The Hands and Feet of Christ

Posted on May 5, 2010

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By David Ettinger

The Student Ministry at First Orlando has been busy the past few years. After all, they have taken mission trips to Los Angeles, Atlanta and West Palm Beach. Within the past few months, their emphasis has been closer to home as they held community outreaches at Hankins Park, less than a mile from the First Orlando campus.

Caption: First Orlando’s Laura Headley gets her hair braided by one of the Kingsway kids.

The students’ most recent endeavor has also been nearby. During the week of July 27-31, 2009, First Orlando’s teens shared the love of God at Kingsway Baptist Church, located about three miles from the John Young campus. “What we basically did was just love the kids [at Kingsway],” said Daniel “Critter” Crittendon, an intern in the Student Ministry who led the week’s efforts. “We did Vacation Bible School — playing games, doing arts and crafts, reading Bible stories and basically helping out any way we could.”

But besides their work with the kids of Kingsway Baptist, First Orlando’s teens also mowed grass, pulled up weeds, cleaned bathrooms and pretty much did many of the things Kingsway would have had difficulty paying for. “Kingsway is a church that loves the Lord and wants to do ministry, but doesn’t have the funds it needs,” Critter said. “We were able to donate Bibles to them and do those essential things that churches need.”

Caption: Brandon Thomas donates his time to sweep one of the bathrooms at Kingsway Baptist Church.

Keith Harmon, Student Ministry Pastor, was out of town and knew he wouldn’t be able to supervise the work at the small church, so he turned the job over to Critter, who enthusiastically took on the responsibility. “As the time was getting near, I started praying about it and eventually made a list of six boys and six girls that I wanted to go with me to Kingsway,” he explained. “I didn’t put any pressure on them. I said, ‘If you don’t want to do it, that’s OK, but I’d really like you to be a part of this.’ ”

Not only did all 12 of those invited accept, but even more students joined the team.  “Kids were coming out of the woodwork,” Critter said. “In fact, we even had people joining us from the College Ministry. It’s been a real blessing.”

And though that blessing benefited those at Kingsway Baptist, it ended up extending to the First Orlando students who were doing the serving. “They’re really learning what it means to be an ‘Acts 2:42’ church in that they’re going out and being the body of Christ,” Critter said. “They’re not just sitting in the congregation and learning, but actually going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus to our local community.”

According to Critter, First Orlando’s students have grown as result of their extensive outreach activity. “Anyone can go out and work in yards, but they are learning the ministry aspect of it,” he said. “Sure you can cut grass and get rid of weeds, but when you do it with a smile on your face in 100-degree weather, then you know you’re doing it for the sake of Jesus.”

Caption: First Orlando student David Ayuzo does some trimming at Kingsway Baptist.

Critter’s point is given credence by the fact that though 12 students were invited, about 20 showed up daily. “This tells me that something with our students is going right,” he said. “Just the fact that they would want to be part of something like this is an incredible blessing. It’s a blessing when they say to you, ‘I want to donate my time,’ or, ‘If you need me, just let me know. We want to help.’ ”

What makes this selfless attitude even more significant to Critter is the fact that quite a few of First Orlando’s students live in a much more comfortable environment than the children they serve. “Each one of our teens could have stayed in their air-conditioned homes and played video games if they wanted to,” he said. “Instead, they have a real heart for these [Kingsway] kids who are less fortunate and just want to love them. Just playing basketball, foursquare and kickball means so much to the [Kingsway] kids. It really does tell them that not only does Jesus love them, but that we love them, also.”

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Posted in: Local Missions