They carried groceries up a steep hill to a woman in Costa Rica with a broken ankle.

They cleaned out stalls in a Nashville, Tennessee, horse farm that serves children who’ve experienced trauma.

They helped refurbish a house in Cleveland, Ohio.

They passed out 600 hygiene kits in El Salvador.

All that and more was carried out by youth from Hancock County churches this summer. Teens from a number of local congregations participated in mission work trips this summer, serving in the United States and abroad. They led Vacation Bible Schools and soccer camps, cooked, painted, built and shared their faith in numerous ways, both in verbal presentations and in acts of service.

Chase Shinkle and his fellow team members from Brookville Road Community Church entered a store in Costa Rica with a shopping list. It included items such as coffee, rice, flour and sugar — “a lot of it was pretty much the same,” he said, as a list one might make here in Indiana.

But the journey to drop off a couple of weeks’ worth of food was very different. The families the group was delivering to live in steep terrain. “When it rains it’s really hard to take their cars up and down the hills,” said Chase, a junior at New Palestine High School.

The trek was made in a humid climate. Chase noticed that when he went to bed at night, on an air mattress with mosquito netting, that his hair was still damp hours and hours after his morning shower.

During the group’s trip in late June, which began with a 16-hour delay to its flight out of Indianapolis, the group also cleared trees and rubble for a church preparing to expand. The teens also played host to a sports gathering and led a two-day Vacation Bible School. They planned the lessons, crafts, snacks and games.

Chase taught a lesson about Jesus’ life and miracles. “I kind of gave the point to the kids … Jesus is still going to love them no matter what,” he said. Later, the person translating his talk into Spanish told him children were saying to each other, “Jesus really loves me, doesn’t he?”

Praying Pelican Missions helped connect the Brookville Road group with the churches it served. Next Step Ministries connected Trinity Park Church youth with the groups they served in Cleveland in late June.

In July, a group of 16 students and four adults from Mt. Comfort Church traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, serving at various community partners. One crew worked at a horse farm that provides free equine therapy to children recovering from trauma. The youth assigned there “did ALL the things, from building fence to cleaning out stalls and helping to care for the horses,” wrote Mary Ann Crisman, the church’s discipleship director, wrote in an email.

Crisman wrote that students and adults served alongside different non-profit organizations, from food pantries to community gardens, day care facilities for children and elderly adults, and farms raising fruits and vegetables and meat for those in need.

Also in July, a group of youth from Realife Church traveled to El Salvador. They offered children’s events for an orphanage there, said Luke Cornwell, communications pastor at Realife. The group also passed out hygiene kits, led a soccer camp, helped build homes and ministered to young adults in prison.

Churches are already planning for their 2024 trips. A car show today (Sept. 23) at Mt. Comfort Church will help raise money for the next youth work trip.

Cornwell said Realife plans to send another team to El Salvador next year. He said such trips offer important lessons for young people.

“We really encourage students to experience the opportunity to share Jesus with people, and to do that outside of their comfort zone, which many times is outside the United States,” he said. “It takes all of the distractions of our normal day-to-day life out of the picture and places them in a position where they need to rely on God and live out what they say they believe.

“They walk away with an experience that encourages them to come back and live out their values here in the United States, in their own community.”


MT. COMFORT — Mt. Comfort Church’s seventh annual car show and fish fry is today, Saturday, Sept. 23.

The events raise money for Lighthouse Student Ministries, for the church’s youth group, to attend a mission trip next summer.

The car show is from noon to 3 p.m. with registration at $20 per car; non-judged registration is $5 per car.

The fish fry is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meal includes hand-battered cod, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, dessert and drink. Day-of-event price is $14.

The events are at 3179 N. CR 600W, Greenfield.