Midtown: Community

Hikers rely on prayer, each other to get through

After spending a full day hiking the Appalachian Trail and climbing up steep mountains, Ben Wright, 18, was ready to throw in his hiking boots and call his parents to come pick him up. But he persevered and found the strength to complete the weeklong, 65-mile hike by praying, talking with the youth leaders and reading scriptures with his fellow youths.

Earlier this month, 34 youths and 11 leaders from nine churches with the Raleigh Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embarked on a weeklong hike starting in Blue Ridge Gap, Ga. They carried their own supplies, cooked all of their meals and slept in shelters or tents.

Throughout the week, many hikers had moments when they wanted to call it quits, but in the end, every single member completed the entire journey.

“It wasn’t just a hike or campout. It was a wilderness survival and you carry your own food and supplies with you,” said Wright, who recently graduated from Wake Forest-Rolesville High School.

Wright said completing the hike was a life-changing experience and gave him a lot confidence in himself. One of the most challenging times was when his tent and belongings got soaked in the middle of the night. He spent the rest of the night huddled in a shelter with his friends.

“We took turns reading verses aloud from the Book of Mormon and praying together,” Wright said. “A spiritual feeling came over me, and I knew that we would be all right.”

The hike has been an annual tradition for the past 20 years, but this year they had more hikers than ever, ranging from 14 to 18 years old.

“The purpose of the hike is to help our youth understand who they are and what they can accomplish,” said Robert Henderson, adult leader and hike organizer. “We want to them know that they have to rely on more than their own power and rely on God to overcome challenges.”

Henderson said that even as an adult, the hike was one the hardest things that he has ever done. After hiking up a 1,500-foot ascent in less than a mile, he was exhausted and felt that he could not continue.

“I then stopped along the trail and prayed with the others in our group. Afterwards, I could not feel the pain in my legs anymore and I had the strength from God to keep going,” Henderson said. “It was just really inspiring to see the kids do things that they thought couldn’t, but in the end we all found the power to push through.”

Hope Lutheran assists Habitat for Humanity

Last month, 13 members of Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest spent a week assisting Mitchell-Yancey County Habitat for Humanity near Boone. The team built railings, worked on the trim, painted, landscaped the yard and volunteered at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

One of the highlights of the week was working alongside the new homeowner and learning about her efforts to help battered women in her community, participants said.

Hope Lutheran is sending another mission team to the area in October. For more information on participating in the mission trip or donating to the cause, contact Kelly Slaybaugh at mkslay@aol.com.

Christmas in July for kids

The community is invited to West Raleigh Presbyterian Church’s Christmas in July from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 7, in the church courtyard, 27 Horne St., Raleigh. Children can play a Christmas game, make a Christmas craft and play with live sheep, goats and chickens.

The celebration is to help spread the word about the church’s upcoming vacation Bible school from July 28 to Aug. 3. For more information, visit www.wrpc.org or call 919-828-5468.

Mount Vernon Baptist Church VBS

Mount Vernon Baptist Church is holding its vacation Bible school from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, July 9, to Friday, July 13, at the church, 7600 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh. Children age 4 through rising sixth-graders are invited, and the cost is $15 per child. To register, visit www.mtvernonbaptist.net.

Windborne United Methodist VBS

Windborne United Methodist Church invites children age 3 to fifth grade to vacation Bible school from 6:20 to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 29, to Thursday, Aug. 1. This year’s theme is SonRise National Park VBS and will include Bible stories, creative crafts, skits, games and music.

Dinner is available for $3 per person or $10 per family. To register, email office@windborneumc.org or call 919-386-0212.

Do you have some faith news to share? Send it to correspondent Jennifer Gregory at nrnews@newsobserver.com.