Serving Others in Christ’s Love3 min read

Youth Servant Events

Every summer, youth from The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) have opportunities to serve others through LCMS Youth Ministry servant events. Messiah, Holt is looking forward to hosting its 13th “Forts and Sorts” servant event June 16-22, 2013 at Youth Haven Ranch (YHR) in Rives Junction, Mich. Messiah’s mission is to “Seek the Lost and Grow the Found.” Hosting a servant event provides us with an exciting opportunity to reach out to our community and beyond in Christ’s love.

Youth Haven Ranch’s mission is to provide year-round Christian programs for children who are underprivileged. In just one week, Messiah’s servant event assists the ranch in getting the camp ready for summer activities by completing maintenance, repair, and construction projects, saving them approximately six months of work hours for the ranch’s small grounds and maintenance staff! Subsequently, more of their resources are available to serve the hundreds of children who attend the camp free of charge.

One youth participant commented, “You may not want to clean gutters and move trash, but it makes a difference and helps support God’s ministry.”

Larry J. Carlson, president and co-founder of YHR, wrote in a letter after last year’s servant event, “Without the help of concerned individuals, the needy children who come to Youth Haven Ranch would be without much hope for the future. With you standing with us, together we are helping to transform these precious children’s lives for God, and for their eternity!”

“Forts and Sorts” began in 1999 with a small group of dedicated volunteers from Messiah who wanted to reach out to the community while helping youth grow in their faith. Its name comes from the servant event’s first project, building “Fort Haven,” which is a fort for the children, complete with Conestoga wagons used for overnight campouts, outlook posts, and a campfire area. The servant event grows each year as more members of the congregation and other volunteers take part in working “behind the scenes” and on-site, making donations, praying, and feeding the youth.

Most of our volunteers, leaders, and participants express how blessed they feel at the end of the week to have had the chance to work hard serving others in the name of Jesus.

LCMS youth groups from congregations as far away as Nebraska attend the week-long servant event. Typically, four to five different youth groups totaling 20-40 people participate each year in “Forts and Sorts.” This year’s theme is “Live Love(d),” the theme of 2013 LCMS National Youth Gathering in San Antonio, Texas. The goals for the youth at the servant event are to:

  • grow in their faith;
  • experience their faith in action by working at YHR; and
  • build community and relationships with each other.

Besides the work that the youth do for the ranch’s buildings and grounds, they have opportunities to interact and share the Gospel with the children.

When asked to describe a meaningful moment during the week, one youth said, “when we were at chapel and all of the kids were so into the service.” 

Joining the children at their Wednesday night chapel is often the highlight moment of the week for many of our youth.

Grants from LCMS World Relief and Human Care have enabled us to accomplish more construction and painting projects for YHR. Last year’s $1,000 grant purchased concrete, plywood, lumber, and paver base.

Mr. Carlson also wrote, “It is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank you, and the rest of the Forts and Sorts Team for applying for a grant from LCMS World Relief and Human Care for materials purchased and used during the 2012 Forts and Sorts event at Youth Haven.” 

As we eagerly anticipate and finish preparations for the 2013 “Forts and Sorts” servant event, we pray God’s blessings on all of the youth who will attend and the children who will be served. Please for more information about “Forts and Sorts” and Messiah Lutheran Church.

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