When you hear “mission trip” what comes to mind? For many, a mission trip conjures up visions of missionaries serving in far-off countries with its inhabitants speaking in a foreign tongue.
This summer, high school students from The Chapel at FishHawk discovered a mission field in their backyard—a few miles south in the town of Wimauma. Without a doubt, the prep and packing for the mission trip took longer than the 30-minute ride to the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry.
Beth-El assists Hispanic farmworkers and their families through hunger relief, education, healthcare and spiritual growth. It serves nearly 600 families on a weekly basis through its food pantry along with offering health and legal services.
For five days, the high school students stayed and labored on the Beth-El property. Though the comforts of home were nearby, the students were immersed in a subculture foreign to them—starting with the Spanish-speaking worship service where the greeting of a kiss on the cheek was customary rather than a handshake or hug.
Kyra Zitko, a student at Newsome High School, explained how her actions of serving others demonstrated Jesus’ love without saying His name.
“At Beth-El there was a language barrier, but God told me I was there for a reason. So I got to be Jesus without saying Jesus by doing God’s work,” she said.
The students packed and distributed food bags, built personal hygiene bags, sorted produce and nonperishables, painted rooms and fed farmworkers. Although the adolescents endured long workdays marked with manual labor, not one complaint was voiced.
Olivia Denmark, another Newsome High School student, commented on the stark difference between her life and the life of the farmworkers.
“Our lifestyles are so different, and I think a lot of people take it for granted here,” said Denmark. “We are expected to graduate school and live a luxury lifestyle spending money for the fun of it, but 30 minutes away there are families who work hours on end picking ridiculous amounts of produce only to be paid 50 cents for around 400 pounds of it.”
Denmark continued, “It was a very eye-opening thing to be reminded that someone has to handpick the foods we eat often. I felt good knowing that I helped these families even if only a little.”
Beth-El Farmworker Ministry is a nonprofit organization located at 18240 U.S. Hwy. 301 in Wimauma. For more information or to volunteer, visit its website at http://beth-el.org or call 633-1548.