3 Things You Should Know About Student Ministries’ Jamaica Trip

The Crossing Student Ministries returned from a mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica nearly a week ago. 47 students, parents, and leaders spent 8 days in rural Jamaica serving Jamaicans. Here are a few lessons I took away that I think you should too.

Teens and Parents Really Do Like Each Other

Across Columbia this week many doors were slammed, many teenagers (and their parents) rolled their eyes, and the accusations “you don’t even know me” and “I don’t even think I know you” have been hurled across living rooms.

I know parenting teenagers is rough, I know that it can seem hopeless at times. I know that most teenagers fire their parents for a period of time ranging from a month to several years.

But this week reminded me that nearly all of the time they really do like each other. Maybe it was out of necessity, maybe it was because there were really no “private moments” where you could do anything out of sight from someone else, maybe it was the lack of TV’s, iPods, cell phones, and laptops.

Either way, parents (since I doubt any teenagers read this blog) keep this in mind when interacting with your teenagers. Remember that you like them, they like you, and then love them and treat them with gentleness, grace, and kindness accordingly.

2. Teenagers Are Capable of Far More Than We Give Them Credit For

It’s eye-opening to see your son pick up a decrepit elderly woman in clothes that she’s probably peed in and left on for weeks and take her back to her bed. It’s eye-opening to see your daughter holding the hand of a quadriplegic with drool running down her chin while reading a passage of Scripture to her.

Yet these are the types of things many Crossing parents had the opportunity to see this week. Many teenagers would have been adults 100 years ago. So don’t let your presuppositions and the culture’s low expectations of your teens hold them back. They are capable of making mature, responsible, and socially-risky decisions for Christ.

So don’t treat them like they’re kids, maybe don’t even call them kids. Don’t just “deal” with them, you “deal” with a sore throat or a headache, not a teenager you love. Give them responsibility and expect them to surprise you. I once heard it said “I won’t be responsible until you give me responsibility.” What if we put this into practice with our young people?

3. If You Have a Teenager, Go Next Time We Do This

I know your summer is busy, I know it costs both vacation time and money. I get it.

But at another level, you may not get it. The sacrifices made to get there, in my opinion (and I’d venture 98% of those who have gone with us) are dwarfed by the multi-faceted rewards you’ll experience.

Just think about it.

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