Lovin’ Austin at D*Now 2017

“God has a purpose even for us high school kids right here in Austin!”

So said Jessica Martin, a participant of Covenant’s DNow/Love Austin weekend retreat. Jessica “loved” this year’s event, as Student Ministry leaders Billy Streu and Whitney Bell worked to transition the weekend to be more service-focused.

Whitney explained: “When we were thinking about DNow 2017, we kept hitting a wall when determining what we wanted to do. Billy turned to me and said, ‘What if we changed this into something that we really loved? What if our focus became loving the city?’

“That made perfect sense! We offer mission opportunities in Oklahoma and in Belize. But our call as Austinites is to love Austin! When Darrell Guder encouraged us to see Covenant as a love letter to the city, we began looking for opportunities for young people to do just that. Thus, Love Austin 2017 was born!”

So this year, Covenant middle and high school students went out into Austin to volunteer. Some kids worked with Movin’ and Groovin’, some kids passed out flyers in the St. Johns neighborhood, some delivered care packages to Westminster Manor and to Texas Reach Out clients, others painted with Street Youth Ministry. Jessica’s group participated in a somewhat different activity.

“The senior girls didn’t really volunteer around Austin, We stayed home and decorated rocks for Redeemed Ministries,” Jessica said. “A representative from Redeemed Ministries came to talk to our group. I had no idea that human trafficking was such a problem here in Austin and it was incredibly eye opening. Also, decorating the rocks for the safe house was awesome because I know that something I make could make someone feel happy or at home. I love the thought of giving someone hope when they see my rock.”

After spending Saturday morning serving, DNow/Love Austin participants spent the afternoon learning about and praying for Austin. “We called this time our ‘urban plunge,’” Whitney said. “We had groups praying at the Capitol, at UT, at Zilker Park, at city hall and at other important areas of our city.”

For her, Jessica said most fun part of the weekend was “just hanging out in the houses at night with our D*groups. Murder in the Dark is my FAVORITE GAME EVER. I love the simple fellowship that comes along with playing games and hanging out.”

In this, her fourth year of attending D*Now, Jessica appreciated the subtle changes. “I feel like this year was much more meaningful and it made me feel like I could make a difference. I really like the aspect of “Love Austin” and I think it will be a great transition in the coming years to focusing on God’s community right in front of us. We don’t need to travel to a different country to do God’s work when there is plenty to help with right here in Austin.”

“This weekend was incredible because it fits into our heart as a church to encourage one another to follow Jesus wherever we live, work and play,” Whitney said. “Our students and leaders were able to pour into our city and communities and see where God is at work loving Austin!”