Summer Service Work Retreat Reflections

Catherine Crichlow
Solon UMC
Summer 2014

My experience at Good Works was nothing short of transformational. Having approached the trip as I did every other mission trip (like I was merely filling some sort of mandatory service quota), I expected very little out of my time there. Truthfully, I just prayed that God would help me tolerate the constant presence of other people (something I usually find very stressful). I never could have dreamed what He really had in store for me.

Not only was I blown away by the abundant sense of community (it’s the heartbeat and lifeblood of the whole mission), I was shocked to discover my reaction to it: I loved it. I embraced it, and now, I constantly crave it. I only wish I could do a better job of putting into words their level of love and acceptance and hope for a better future. They are driven by purpose and guided by faith and are absolutely on fire with passion. During my time there, I was able to witness and experience what it truly means to be a part of God’s family, what it means to serve others, and above all, what it means to be in a relationship with God.

I have always put the work that needs to be done above the people, but I learned that week that my formula was backwards. Building relationships comes before building housing, because it’s in building relationships that we really build the kingdom of God. And looking back, it seems to me my entire week was glimpse into that very kingdom. (The crazy part is, we still finished the projects on time.)

There’s no question I am different now as direct result of my time at Good Works. It’s already begun to affect every area of my life- at church, with family and friends, even my work. I cannot wait to go back, and I know I’m not alone. So I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you so very much.

Catherine Crichlow


P.S. I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact of one conversation I had with Jim at the Transformation Station. It’s unlikely he’ll even remember it, but I just want him to know that his words have literally changed my life.



Jennifer Miller
Lake Forest Church
Summer 2014

  1. What is one thing you are taking away from your time with Good Works?

My week was filled with some amazing “aha” moments, so it is difficult to pick just one. I guess most importantly I personally walked away with a new found love for work. It sounds crazy, but headed into the week, I was a stressed out working mom of two kids with a husband who travels. Most of that stress and that outlook was brought on by myself, but I didn’t realize it until I spent the week at Good Works. I was looking at all of the work and interactions that I had as a burden, but I ended the week realizing that work is a form of “worship” and an opportunity to show people, my spouse and my kids God’s love. This new found outlook and appreciation has truly changed the way I do life!

  1. How do you hope to apply what you experienced to your life now that you are home?

The majority of my time at Good Works was spent in the kitchen helping our fearless Leader and in the Kid’s Discovery with the beautiful kids and the amazingly talented young Teachers. Through these experiences I saw people react to tough stressful situation with a calmness that I don’t usually have. Through the week it became apparent to me that they were able to do this because they put God in the driver’s seat. Each of these women walk through life knowing that it will be alright because it is God’s plan. My hope is that I will respond to things in my life more calmly as I learn to follow the Good Works model and put my faith in God more. My prayer is that God will use what I have learned to teach others, including my family, how to trust more and worry less!

  1. Share a story of how you experienced the kingdom of God the week you were here.

Prior to Good Works, I would read scripture some days and my prayer was inconsistent. The structure at Good Works which includes worship in the morning, thankfulness before every meal and the continued prayer showed me how our walk with God should work. Through this process, I heard God more than I ever have! Every time I became worried about something or was overwhelmed by what we saw and experienced, the scripture we studied or the prayers that were said would directly answer what was on my heart at the time! It was as though God and I were having a two way conversation all week! The amount of times it happened was astounding and definitely made me realize that when I haven’t experienced the Kingdom of God it was been because I was not seeking to see/hear it!

  1. Is there anything else you want to comment on?

There was a car commercial a year or two ago where the car was driving through the rain with the windshield wipers on and the world was perfectly synchronized as it drove down the road. That was what this experience was like for the Lake Forest team I was with all week. We came into the week barely knowing each other with only our church and our Lake Norman lifestyles in common. Within days, the normal focuses of our life prior to Good Works melted away. Everyone was just committed and completely focused on serving others in perfect unison. There was no conflict, no egos, not even a little bit of tension, only harmony as we worshiped God in everything we did together!


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