We often include a segment of our weekend worship hours entitled “From The congregation” in which someone in our church family will share a short story concerning their spiritual journey.
In preparing for our trip to Chicago, I challenged our team to read and memorize 2 Timothy 4:1-5. Here are a couple phrases from that passage: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching…as for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Living, and working in an urban setting in out-of-the-ordinary conditions for an entire week is quite a grueling process. Despite that, our team of 8 students and 3 leaders persevered, and fulfilled the ministry God gave us through Family Empowerment Centers of Chicago.
Here are some highlights from our trip:
- Serving at South Asian Friendship Center’s block party (over 400 people)
- Seeing our students lead worship during church
- Putting on a Day Camp, with an average attendance of 38 kids
- Watching our students take on many different tasks, working with the other youth group, and being willing to go the extra mile to make the Day Camp extra special.
- Kids sings, smiling, laughing, and warming up to the group throughout the week.
- Visiting a Bahai temple
- Prayer walking through Roger’s Park
- Foot washing ceremony
- Learning about who our neighbors are
- Learning about the Great Commission
In students voices, here are some of their takeaways from the trip:
As said by Katie M: “I’m leaving my Day Camp kids, who I’ve gotten to know and care about this week…it’s been amazing to see the things God has done this week. He is good.”
As said by Jeremy P: “It has been very awesome working here at the FECC. It was really cool to see the kids go from the first day of shyness to the second day of being loud and singing. I have learned that whoever is close to you (in this case, the BC Team and the Iowa Team, and Rodgers Park area) are my neighbors. I learned that we need to love our neighbors and not judge by what you see with a first glance.”
As said by Renee B: “This trip has been amazing, we have been learning how to minister to other people here and love them. And the talks with our leaders have given us a new perspective in thinking about our faith and how we are listening to God. The power of prayer has also been a blessing. This experience has been wonderful in teaching us how to love others and do God’s work!”
As the leader of the trip, my takeaway from the week centers around the night we learned about the Great Commission. The realization I had is that God’s work in the world has existed from the beginning of time. Our task as Christ followers is joining in the work God is doing. So, we joined the work that God is doing in Roger’s Park, Chicago. Even though we’re no longer there, that work still continues, as does the work God gives us where we are today.
We give all the praise to God for allowing us to participate in his work in Chicago. We know that the week would not have been possible without individuals praying for us, and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
After 19 hours and 1500 miles later, 17 of our Junior High students and leaders made it to Chattanooga, TN. Not your typical joy ride, but the trip was a great opportunity for our youth to use their energy and talents. God has blessed them with many opportunities to do different activities and help out the community.
We stayed at The Gathering, a church on the north side of Chattanooga. The students were mixed around into five crews with the two other youth groups that joined us. These crews not only worked together at each work site but also prepared and cleaned up our meals each day.
Some of the work sites and activities our students participated in were:
- Playing, reading, and praying with elderly people in assisted living centers
- Playing with and entertaining toddlers or preschoolers
- Clearing brush for a new trail at a local state park
- Filling hundreds of boxes at a local food bank
- Moving 500 bricks from the rubble of a 150 year old house for new walking paths
After a hard day’s work, the group participated in fun evening activities such as climbing around Rock City atop Lookout Mountain and playing at a downtown park. You ask any student who went, and they will all tell you about the cool on-site worship service on our last night. It was very unifying for our group, allowing our students to understand God in a whole new way.
We, as leaders, are proud of each and every one of them for the mature attitude they held throughout the trip. We are encouraged to see the great men and women God is growing them into. See more pictures on our Facebook Page.