Sunnyside Youth Reach Out in Los Angeles

August 21, 2016 | Warren Rushold

From the day his mother enrolled him in Little Dribblers basketball at age 4, the sport was the first love for Colby Maier of Kelowna, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. While attending Kelowna Christian School, his skills steadily improved; he was named a provincial all-star in ninth grade and provincial tournament Most Valuable Player for B.C. Division 1-A during 10th and 11th grades. During 11th grade, he started getting recruitment letters from NCAA Division 1 basketball programs offering him scholarships.

However, a severe injury to his right ankle between grades 11 and 12 gave Maier time to think about the direction his life was headed. During four months of ankle rehab, his Adventist grandparents invited him to church and an evangelistic series. The very humble Kelowna Adventist Church pastor greatly impressed Maier.

Maier continued studies with the pastor. During his 12th-grade year, he was baptized into the Adventist Church. His first love now was Jesus Christ.

Between high school graduation and enrolling at Canadian University College (now Burman University) in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, Maier went on a mission trip to the Dream Center in Los Angeles, Calif., sponsored by the Kelowna Mennonite Church. He was greatly touched by the ministry to the poorer sections of Los Angeles, especially the many homeless people in the city.

While he had been thinking of going into the ministry, this trip solidified in Maier's mind the determination to do this full time. He kept in the back of his mind the wish to take another group of youth to the Dream Center so they could see the ministry and receive the inspiration that had so deeply touched his life. He was to get that chance.

In his role as assistant pastor at Sunnyside Church in Portland, Maier and two other adults led a group of 12 Portland-area academy students on a mission trip to the Dream Center March 18–28, which included several major activities in Los Angeles.

During Adopt-a-Block, the youth would walk around the assigned streets picking up trash and doing whatever they could to make the environment look better. This was greatly appreciated by the neighborhood.

The youth also helped with food distribution. Surplus and donated food in boxes was taken to government-sponsored housing projects and distributed to low-income residents. When the students asked if they could pray with the people, more than 90 percent appreciatively said “yes."

When interviewed about their trip, students Daniel, Nathan and Autumn reported being glad to have had this mission experience. Their comments included:

  • “It was great to really help people and not be just a tourist.”
  • “We were anxious at first [about] what would we be expected to do.”
  • “It was amazing how many homeless people there were.”
  • “I learned how to pray with people in all ways.”
  • “The prayers we prayed and the stories people told us really touched our hearts.”
  • “We would like to do more for people, especially the homeless, here in Portland.”
  • “Our class/church needs to be more engaged.”
  • “We are going to do what we can to make that happen.”

Has your church taken its youth on a mission trip lately? If you ask them, you may find many are ready and eager to go. What are you waiting for? Blessings and inspiration await.