Zachary Parnell, 24, a campus student from Philadelphia, was one of our "master builders' on the Philippines HOPE Youth Corps. He is also one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.This is what he shared about his time on HYC:
I truly had no idea what it meant to serve. Sure, in church I see people "serving in the song ministry" or "serving in children's ministry." But what it meant to serve outside the church walls became clearer to me on this HYC.
I quickly realized that my focus on the HYC and back home was not on serving God, and that needed to change. Through helping build houses, serving communities, and seeing children's eyes light up, I started to feel a longing to serve and wanted to focus on that and nothing else. The HYC took me back to the roots of God, and our relationship, and reawakened things in my character I thought I had conquered but hadn't. And I'm better for it.
I realized that the intention to serve must be there but must also be followed by swift action. I realized that we can do godly thing after godly thing, yet miss the point of service altogether, which is love. Doing everything in your power and with the faculties God provides to make someone who is sad feel happy, and choose to be used by God to give them hope. It's all about seeing the need through the crowd and going in faith to see the right and not the wrong.
God wanted me to focus again on our relationship, God wanted to use me emotionally and spiritually instead of just physically. God wanted me to boast in my weakness so, in turn, glory is given where it's due. Physical activity doesn't always mean you're being productive if you're not using your activities and gifts to glorify God and reflect God's glory.
We tend to do things so fast that we can forget why we are even doing them. This HYC experience put me in touch with my heart, and helped me realize that I need to be monitoring and checking where it's at often. I need to be asking myself if I'm comparing myself to others, or if I'm comparing myself to Jesus. Am I doing this in response to God's love?
This HYC experience has me asking myself if I praise God when things aren't going so well, or if I only praise God when things are going well. This HYC has sharpened my eyes for the detail of neglected things, and has struck my heart to make me wonder if I always have the humility to do something about it. "Let the person you've become on HYC be the person you are when you go home." Those words by Aaron in our last devo struck home. If you can say that, it means some amazing things go down on a HYC.
Lastly, God revealed my heart as I've never felt it and experienced it before. It was as if I had loved for the first time, and was scared because I wanted it to last forever, it was a glimpse. I want more glimpses.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside godly people striving to live out the aspect of Jesus' ministry that many neglect. I'm not sure what God has in store going forward, but I feel different upon returning back to the West, truly different.
If you want to experience what Zach is talking about, apply here: https://www.hopeww.org/blog/hycinfo/