As the leaves begin to change, the air becomes crisp, football is on, and you may hear the words “First Fruits” thrown around at Reston Bible Church.
Each year the fall season and First Fruits go hand in hand. First Fruits is a church-wide community service project. That can mean a lot of different things, so let me explain a bit more.
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, an army of over 700 volunteers in different teams move in full force across the Northern Virginia area from 8:00-5:00 p.m. raking leaves, cutting grass, moving things, cleaning yards, and more. Donations are then collected from the jobs, and at the end of the day the teams go to Shoppers in Sterling to buy food for a family whom they will deliver the food to that night. In physically delivering the food to the family, you have the privilege of making a personal connection with families in our community. This is enjoying the “first fruits” of your labor. We work hard together all day and then get to see what our hard work accomplishes.
First Fruits began some 25 years ago with a dream to do something different than the norm. There are a lot of great service projects out there, like collecting blankets for the homeless. Yet a desire was born to help those who are under the radar—like a single mom who has no government assistance and is working many jobs, but still cannot make ends meet. Or a family with both parents working that still has financial struggles. Or a family where one parent is battling cancer or a spouse has died.
First Fruits works with the local schools who know those who fit what this project is looking for. RBC attendees also submit forms for those they believe could benefit from this day. God has consistently used this one day of serving to provide in a unique way for our local community. Last year over $37,000 was raised in ONE day!
First Fruits started as a Youth Ministry event, but has morphed into a church-wide one, as the Lord has blessed and grown the efforts of so many since its conception. The need is BIG to allow the day to happen. We truly cannot do this without the help of each person at Reston Bible Church playing his or her part. We are in need of over 700 volunteers. Yes, 700! There are a few ways you can be involved:
- This year we are praying and asking the Lord to provide more Team Captains so we can have more teams that are smaller and more manageable.
- You can be a volunteer to work that day.
- You can provide a job for a team to do that day.
- You can refer someone you believe is in needs of food assistance.
- You can make a donation toward First Fruits.
Having participated in First Fruits for the past three years, I can say the day is truly soul satisfying, not to mention you sleep well that night. First Fruits is being “The Church” outside of the church walls. I believe the emotional and spiritual impact we have far outweighs the physical and financial gift we bring. Yet the physical and financial gift is what paves the way for the emotional and spiritual impact.
I’m glad God shows up with His power when it doesn’t seem humanly possible things will work out nice and neatly as I would like. This happened for the student ministry’s “Spring Clean” this past Saturday, April 16.
Each year we host Spring Clean to do jobs for those in the church — things like mulching, cleaning, raking, etc. to raise funds for student summer missions. This year we did 49 jobs, with 14 teams consisting made up of 150 workers (adults, students, and children). We had both fewer jobs and workers this year, but the Lord still showed His power by providing over $19,000 in funds!
We are blessed by a church congregation that supports missions and the student ministry in a big way! I was personally blessed by the adult captains of each team who give of their time and energy to make the day happen. I was also amazed by the students and adults who came out to help that day and had no stake in the mission trip, but wanted to help their friends. It is awesome to see the body of Christ work together for the Kingdom.
Each winter, the students and leaders of the RBC Youth Ministry are blessed to have the opportunity to “retreat” from the daily schedule of life and trade it for time with each other, time in God’s Word, time on the slopes, time away from electronics, and more.
In February, we went back for the third time to Doubling Gap Christian Retreat Center in Doubling Gap, PA. The setting is awesome for “retreating” because it is an old hotel in the mountains with very little cell service (and it’s covered in snow!)
The speaker this winter was Shelby Abbott, who is on staff and an emcee for CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ). Shelby spoke on the theme of Living Outside the Box.
That theme is out of John 17:14-18, where Jesus calls His disciples to be in the world, but not of it. The desire was to help students see that God wants them to be engaged with the world around them without being overtaken by it. To do this as Christians we need to take on God’s approach to life. Shelby spoke on taking God’s approach to pop culture, extremes (legalism vs. license), relationships and dating, and suffering. The final message was to be on taking God’s approach to power (living by the Holy Spirit), but due to snow the retreat ended Sunday night. Many students have commented that the message on relationships and suffering were very impactful to them. This is most likely due to the difference in what they heard from the Bible and what the world tells them about relationships and suffering. God’s Word is truth and speaks!
We also had a blast out on the slopes of Round Top, the bowling alley, and the roller rink. New relationships were built and friendships were strengthened. Leaders poured into the lives of the students in their small groups. Students meditated on God’s Word and it spoke to them. We are blessed to have the opportunity to lead these camps and retreats, which are milestones for students because they clearly see and hear God in their lives.
The RBC congregation was generous in providing the funds to give scholarships for over 25 students to be able to attend the retreat. THANK YOU! Your financial gifts and prayers are so important! From the Youth Ministry Staff we all say thank you!
On September 29, GAP, our Senior High Youth Ministry, sponsored an event called Gettin’ Schooled. Gettin’ Schooled turned out to be a big success and a blessing to our students. It was an “in-reach” event designed around the thought of the students going back to school and how to spiritually equip them in this. We did this in three ways: food, fun competition, and electives.
The night started off with some dinner and hangout time, where we ate what you would get a school football game: hot dogs with chili, cheese and jalapenos, hamburgers, and nachos. We then had a competition between 10 teams of students and leaders, each team having 4-5 people. The first to finish all of the stations won; the stations were a hotdog eating contest, having to get 25 Skittles out of a bread loaf pan filled with whipped cream, smash a pumpkin off a rope while blindfolded, a teamwork game where you had to rearrange yourself on cinderblocks, and an alphabet soup game where the team had to make out the phrase “Gettin Schooled at the GAP.”
After the competition students then got to go “get their schedule” for the electives they had chosen. The electives they chose from were Quiet Time 101, How to Start a God-Movement at Your School, Standing up Without Standing Out, Study Skills 201, Stress Strategies and Prioritizing, How to Not Be a Follower, Dealing with Temptations, and Developing Friendships with Non-Believers. The students were really excited to get their schedules and the feedback from the teachers was that students were very involved. Our prayer was the students and staff alike were blessed and encouraged in their faith by attending the event and above all that God received all of the glory.
Please be in prayer for our students as they continue to grow in their faith and be a light for Christ in their schools.