by Heather Bock
I went on my first mission trip when I was a freshman in high school. I went with my high school youth group to Mexicali, Mexico, where I hammered on roofs in an oversized straw hat and conducted VBS with other high schoolers, every one of us girls decked out in a flowy, flowered skirt. The neighborhood kids would come grinning to our tents, excited for the crafts and skits. I was hooked. After that, I went every spring break, and when I started college, I went on mission trips to France or Croatia/Slovenia every summer.
Croatia is where I met Steve Meeker for the first time. We traveled over to Slovenia for an outdoor camp set amongst Alpine mountains, crystal clear streams, waterfalls, and flowery meadows. My team from California was to lead in the camp, helping the teenaged Croatian campers with activities like rock climbing, tennis, and canoeing. I’m a runner, unskilled in anything but repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other, so they assigned me hiking and bike riding, the latter still not much of a forte for me. I was to lead a small group down trails while living out my faith in Jesus. We would meet together as a whole group in the mornings and evenings and worship and learn about God together. I watched as a few dear girls gave their lives to Jesus at those camps.
I learned so much on those trips about leaning on Jesus. I was exposed to different cultures, broadening my view of the world. I learned how to get along with team members different than me, and I grew close to the team as I served. It is partly because of these sweet times that I still pray for the Meekers even though 17 years have passed since I last set foot in Croatia. I’m also still in touch with some of the girls from those camps.
However, I was short on something during all those trips. My team leaders always provided a level of preparation for us, as much as they could in the time we had, and I’m thankful for that. I could have benefited a lot more, though, by what Steve Meeker has in place now–Leadership Lab International.
Leadership Lab International is a program that intentionally teaches young leaders, equipping and mentoring them to be stronger leaders. It not only provides Bible study (like my team did), but teaches young leaders how to study the Bible themselves. This is close to my heart, as I wrote a Bible study partly for that very purpose–to teach others how to study the Bible for themselves.
LLI gives leadership skills not only through Biblical training, but through training in outdoor skills–something I very much lacked when I was there. Participants learn backpacking, camping, archery, canoeing, and rock climbing. These activities are used to develop relational and team-building skills. I love, also, that these teams are made up of people from all over the world, so they learn cross cultural communication–so important for international missions.
After LLI participants are trained in servant leadership, they put what they learned into practice, leading actual campers like I did, but with a lot more preparation, and because of this, a lot more growth.
If you are interested in learning more about Leadership Lab International, you can watch some videos about it here. If you are a young adult and want to hone your leadership skills, I would really recommend you learning more about Leadership Lab International at their website: www.leadershiplabinternational.org.
Meet Steve Meeker, Director of Leadership Lab International
“One of my greatest passions is to walk alongside young leaders and encourage them to grow in their abilities and walks with Jesus as they serve together on multicultural teams. After growing up around God’s creation in Colorado with a short stint in Alaska, I finished a degree in International Ministries. This foundation prepared me for the next big chapter of my life where together with my wife Jenny and four boys, we have had the privilege of serving in Croatia for over two decades. Leadership Lab International is a new venture for us as the DPB House changes from a camp to a training center. I look forward to seeing what God will do in and through the lives of all those who come to learn and serve with us!”