MFUGE (Mission) is designed to accomplish two goals: To give students a hands on mission experience while deeply challenging them spiritually along the way. The week is filled with a lot of fun, worship, and serving on various ministry projects.
Students may find themselves working with children or doing sports ministry in a community center setting. There’s a painting/construction/ yard work track where they can truly roll up their sleeves or they might serve in a social ministry setting serving at local homeless shelters or nursing homes.
MFUGE began at Palm Beach Atlantic. I had just started at my first church in West Palm, fresh out of seminary. Several of my friends and recent classmates were staffing this new endeavor.
Several times during its’ first summer at PBA, I was asked to fill in as a mission site leader for the day and help with program aspects at night. I saw firsthand the impact it had on other groups that came through that first summer. It was unlike any other camp experience at this time. Today, we continue to see lives impacted by the gospel in these cities and in our own communities when our students return.
Student Ministries Assistants AJ Pacheco and Jarrett Conkling were greatly impacted by participating in MFUGE as students. Here’s what they had to say about their experiences.
What first made you want to participate in MFUGE?
AJ: All of the testimonies I had heard from people who had already gone. My friends and older brothers had gone and told me it was something I had to experience because it was life-changing.
Jarrett: I first wanted to participate in Mfuge as a high schooler because I had the opportunity to go out of state and spend time with people who had my best interest at heart. Friends and leaders who cared about my well-being more deeply than just what sort of value I could bring to a friendship.
How has MFUGE impacted your relationship with Christ?
AJ: It really was a catalyst for me to take the next step in my faith. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into places where I truly had to rely on God. And that has impacted me to be someone who wants to not only believe in Jesus but walk in His ways and spread the good news to others.
Jarrett: MFUGE changed my relationship with Christ drastically. It essentially gave me a practice field to go and love people in situations that were uncomfortable to me. It helped me choose the Holy Spirit’s nudging over the desire for my own comfort and safety. MFUGE gave me the chance to do these things with “training wheels,” as I had my friends and leaders nearby, encouraging me to push outside of what I was comfortable doing.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had because of MFUGE?
AJ: Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at MFUGE have simply been serving alongside all of my friends and making relationships that are rooted in Christ.
Jarrett: Choosing only one is a tall task in and of itself, but I would say the most impactful one was going out to our site in Greenville, South Carolina, during my second MFUGE with a sense of purpose and leadership. Striving to take what I had learned the previous year and apply it by jumping into the site with vigor and without holding back or letting my desire for comfort trump my love for the people around me.
What is it like getting to be on the other side now and see other teens go through the same experience you had?
AJ: It is amazing to see other students go through some of the same experiences I did when I was a student at MFUGE. Walking through situations and struggles with students who experienced some of the same hardships I had gives me perspective on how God worked in my life when I didn’t even notice. Nothing is more encouraging than watching students serve others, spread the gospel, and choose to put God on the throne of their own hearts.
Jarrett: It is both beautiful and frustrating! It is amazing to watch these kids grow over the years and learn the simple truths about the gospel through experience. Watching them take the step from knowing the concept to actually applying it and becoming doers of the Word and not just hearers is the biggest blessing. It is also beautiful to see the kids bond over the course of the trip. MFUGE is a foundational part of the DNA of our youth group as it teaches so well what it is like to love others the way we have been loved by Christ. So to see the kids apply that not only to the people we serve but also to other members of our own group is a true encouragement. However, it can also be frustrating at times as we cannot understand Christ and the joy that comes from pursuing Him for the kids. It is something they learn over time as the Spirit works and takes root in their lives. As leaders that love them, we have to let them come to an understanding while walking alongside them at MFUGE and here in Orlando as they contextualize their faith, no matter how long it takes.
What’s one thing you would say to any teens who may feel hesitant about attending MFUGE?
AJ: For those who feel hesitant, first I say - I understand. I was hesitant too. There’s a lot of questions you want to ask and a lot of unknowns you are stepping into. But I would say this: JUST SIGN UP. God doesn’t need you to have all the answers or you to feel ready before he can work through and in you. If you’re afraid because you don’t have any friends going - trust me, you’ll make friends. If you’re worried because you are unsure how to tell others about the Gospel - we’ll help you out. It is only one week of your life. I encourage you to give that week to God and commit it to furthering His kingdom.
Jarrett: Just jump in! This kind of trip can be the perfect time to get to know other kids your age as they are also stepping out of their comfort zone. If you can trust the Lord enough to come on this trip, I promise it will not be something that you regret. Our team will always be there to help you as you figure out how to mesh with the group and how to make your faith in Jesus something that will change your life from the inside out! If you are still worried or hesitant, just contact me at Jarrett.Conkling@NorthlandChurch.net. See you there!
MFUGE High School Summer Camp is happening Sunday, July 10 through Saturday, July 16. Learn more and register at NorthlandChurch.net/Students!