|Participating in the Ambassadors in Mission (AIM) Outreach, students clean up the grounds of a local elementary school in Louisville.
Take more than 450 students and leaders on a mission to show the love of Jesus to a city and watch the impact unfold. That's exactly what happened at Louisville 2012 as many saw God move in great ways through the Ambassadors in Mission (AIM) outreach.
"Louisville was a tremendous blessing to our entire group," Bill Wireman, youth pastor at Bethel Assembly of God in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, says. "We saw God heal people, heal youth in our own group and give hope to the lost and hopeless. If the National Youth Department ever decides to go back to Louisville, then that would be great by us. Everything was beautiful - the city, the people, etc."
Numbers speak for themselves, especially in outreach efforts. According to a preliminary report by Brian Neugent, Kentucky District youth director, students and leaders volunteered numerous hours participating in outreach, clean up and renovation. Teams canvassed 6,000 homes giving the residents local church information and inviting them to church. In preparation for students coming back to school, eight schools received 700 hours of free labor.
Community efforts were also made as two city parks were cleaned. A Vacation Bible School and Mega Sports Camp held during the week averaged 50 attendees each day. Four block parties were held with a total attendance around 1,000 and about 70 people participated in a prayer walk that covered several city blocks.
On Monday, 120 AIMers and local churches offloaded and repackaged groceries from a Convoy of Hope truck. The Convoy of Hope food distribution helped 2,500 families with 5,000 bags of groceries. Wednesday night, AIM teams participated in or led the local services with 500 in attendance.
Pastor Beth Arp, of Shively Worship Center in Louisville, Kentucky, says she had a wonderful experience with AIM and appreciated the work the teams completed on Friday afternoon. "I was sitting at Subway and the AIM team had just finished going to the apartments in my area, praying with people and passing out flyers," she says.
"I was eating lunch when the assistant manager from an apartment complex called me. She says, 'I just want you to know that the guy that came and prayed with me, that passed the flyer out and talked with me, really touched on my life about some things that are going on in my life and really ministered to me. I would like for you to call the manager, which I am going to do this afternoon, and see if we can get some ministry going into the apartments.' So that was a real positive outcome from the AIM team that came. It's a really good testimony."
Arp says she is going to try to get an appointment with the manager next week and see what the church can do to minister to the estimated 200 residents in the apartment complex. She added that the assistant manager was really impressed by the leader and the students who came.
Several renovation projects were also completed throughout the week. A house was painted for the Urban Ministry Center to house Engage students who will aid in further ministry opportunities in the city. Teams also painted and helped out at the local pregnancy center. Other sites receiving help in renovation included: Shively Worship Center, the Kentucky District campground, Kentucky Teen Challenge's ladies home, a church family's barn, senior adult homes, a retired Assemblies of God pastor's home and a single dad's home.
Pastor David Heigl, of New Hope Assembly and Servant's Heart Family Worship Center in Louisville, thanks the AIM participants for the positive impact and encouragement sewn in the community. "You can tell the change in the atmosphere that is here," he says. "Something is happening in Louisville."
He says it was an honor to work with AIM students and leaders, to see their strong witness and know there will be no clean up following the departure of the teams.
"Outstanding district and host site leaders were well-prepared for the more than 450 AIMers that participated in last week's outreach in Louisville," Chet Caudill, student missions director, says. "The variety of ministry opportunities and service projects provided a great balance of evangelism methods through words and acts of compassion. Doors were opened within the community for continued ministry via local church involvement. In addition, students and leaders testified of God's hand at work and presence felt. We are praying for continued breakthroughs in the coming weeks and months."
Caudill says AIM looks forward to partnering with host churches throughout the Orlando area for a city-wide AIM outreach in 2013 during General Council.
"We are praying and believing that God is going to do amazing things through the students and leaders that participate," Caudill says.
The 55th General Council, National Fine Arts Festival and AIM outreach will take place August 5-9, 2013, in Orlando, Florida. For more information on future AIM outreach opportunities, click here.
Photo credit: Bethany McGrath