Houston’s Pines Presbyterian Youth Group Reaches out to Children in Our Group Homes

Isiah and friends enjoy some time at the beach during a mission trip to Florida.

Isiah and friends enjoy some time at the beach during a mission trip to Florida.

Ambassadors and churches support Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services because they want to make a difference in the lives of children and families who have not had the same advantages as they have had. Here’s one story of one church’s commitment to the children in PCHAS’ care: through its Benevolence Fund, Houston’s Pines Presbyterian Church paid all the expenses not only for the two youth but also for a PCHAS staff member so that they could attend a mission trip with its Youth Group.

“It’s a God thing; that’s all I can say.”

That was the response of Isiah Smith, one of two teenagers from a PCHAS Group Home, who says he is grateful for the opportunity to form a long-term, loving relationship with the youth and families of Pines Presbyterian Church in Houston.

Four years ago, George Harwell, who is a PCHAS Ambassador and was a member of Pines at the time, suggested that the Pines Youth Group reach out to the children on the Waxahachie campus. The leaders provided two scholarships for youth who were not members of Pines PC so that they could participate in the Pines annual mission trip. Nobody really knew what that would look like: inviting strangers to join a tight-knit group on a week-long mission trip. But Phil Wetz, one of the youth leaders, said they fit right in and that their “acclimation skills” far exceed those of some other teenagers as well as many adults.

These two teens continue to have a close relationship with Pines Presbyterian Church, its leaders and its youth group. Over the last three years, they have traveled on two other mission trips (Isiah went to Guatemala) and two weekend “spiritual growth” events in Houston. The Pines youth group has traveled to Waxahachie for special events too — like the baptism of one of the teens.

Sam Jun, the youth pastor at Pines, said the theology of the church is all about “getting connected with people. We are looking for long-term relationships.” The strategy is working: Isiah says the bond that he has formed with the youth and adults of Pines will last a lifetime. He knows that he has friends and supporters there forever.

Harwell pointed out that the commitment of a church to support these kinds of relationships requires leadership as well as funding. Jun’s support and involvement was critical, Harwell said.

If you’d like to sponsor a child from our Group Homes on your next mission trip, please contact your development officer.