"HG (Helping God) TV" guys, Toledo pastor Mike Hancock and Lafayette youth pastor Russel Bender, pose with a drill and with Aizik Myers.
"HG (Helping God) TV" guys, Toledo pastor Mike Hancock and Lafayette youth pastor Russel Bender, pose with a drill and with Aizik Myers (photo submitted)

LAFAYETTE — In our modern age, Russel Bender believes its essential to be as creative as possible in engaging youth — with the things of God.

The Lafayette youth pastor takes them to Christian concerts, to inner cities, to paint ball fights at Scene 75… you name it. Why?

Because his approach is to reach the “whole person.”

Mr. Bender is the youth leader for four churches in Lafayette (the youth group is combined). The churches include: Congregational Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church and Liberty Chapel.

Each summer the youth go on extended mission trips.

Last year, as an example, they went to the inner city of Toledo. “This was the poorest part of the city,” said Mr. Bender, who believes exposing youth to a hurting humanity will, one, help them better appreciate the things they have. But more importantly, it will inspire them to want to help more those in need.

In Toledo, the Lafayette youth took on rehabbing a whole city park – across from a church they stayed at (on the gymnasium floor).

They used a lawn mower and weed whacker (they purchased and would be leaving behind) to clean up the landscape in the park. They then erected some historical signs at the park.

And finally, and this is a BIG ‘and finally,’ they went to another park that was closing, dismantled part of a Noah’s Ark playground set – not, apparently, much smaller than the original Noah’s Ark – then transported it and reassembled it.

Human dignity, and sound spiritual principle, says those kids in the city should have a right to a nice park/playground as well, said Mr. Bender.

“This is also getting our kids to see that one person(s) can really make a difference,” he continued.

The Lafayette youth group is currently planning a trip for this summer to Chattanooga, Tennessee. They will be helping rehab a gymnasium in a public school in, again, one of the poorer parts of the city.