Why Volunteering Is For Everyone

By Mike Pahl

Mike Pahl’s first church youth trip did not happen until he was in his 20’s. His church, Farmington Lutheran, had a last minute need for another adult to accompany a youth mission trip. Mike said, “yes.”

He explains that youth trip “was the first time in my life I experienced a group of people who loved and accepted me as I was. That Christian community made such a difference that I wanted to continue that experience for myself and help create it for others.”

Over the last many years as a member of Shepherd of the Valley, Mike has been an adult leader on both middle and high school mission trips to Duluth, Rapid City, Green Bay, Panama City, and Disaster Relief trips to South Carolina and Texas.

Getting work time off is a little different for Mike Pahl, because he owns his own business (Nice Guy Technology). He explains, “the extended time together on those trips of worship, quiet time, work, and play creates a powerful Christian community,” making those weeks the best of the entire year.

He has experienced kids being more dialed into deep conversations while on church trips because they don’t have cell phones available. Mike comments that he ends up being more focused as well, when he doesn’t always have his business phone constantly ringing.

“One thing I realize from being on these trips is how every person has a story.” Mike continued, “Jesus told stories and we connect to stories. Trips give people a safe place, a loving place, where people trust one another, and then those stories come out.” When those stories are shared, people experience that they are not judged, but loved and valued. “That’s the experience of Jesus on my life on those trips,” Mike declared.

Mike understands that many adults likely don’t feel qualified to go on trips because they don’t have enough faith or feel they don’t know how to interact with youth. But his perspective is that if adults love Jesus and share from their lives, that kids will respond and adults will find their lives transformed by the experience.