Monday, November 15, 2010

Urban Hope Mission Trip

I spent the past few days in the West Kensington section of Philadelphia at a place called Urban Hope. Urban Hope is a ministry we support in inner-city Philly. It's about as far away a place from Goshen, IN, as it could possibly be ... and that's exactly why we went. Our teenagers got to see things and experience things that just wouldn't happen in Goshen. When you go there, you see people on the street corners selling drugs. While I was buying lunch at Jade's Palce (1 block away from Urban Hope) I saw 4 drug deals go down. It's sounds shocking, but it's just what goes on in that area and that is why Urban Hope is needed so badly there. This place is a LIGHT to that community and the people who serve at Urban Hope have chosen to be there, chosen to raise their families there, in order to reach that community for Jesus Christ. And, even though we often hear of the negative stuff that's happened in the area ... drugs, violence, addictions, abuse ... what we often don't hear about are the God things that are happening. God is really working in that area. People's lives are being changed. A church is rising up in that neighborhood and is making a statement: "This is no longer Satan's turf. We are taking it back!"

I know there are so many more "well-known" Christian leaders today. People who have huge churches and huge ministries and lots of followers on Facebook or Twitter or on their blogs. I'm all for that! I'm probably one of their followers. I love when people can make a difference like that for the Kingdom of God. But, man, some of the real heroes of our faith are people whose names you wouldn't recognize and they are working right there in inner-city Philadelphia at Urban Hope. When you see the area, when you see what goes on, and then you know that people have intentionally chosen to go there instead of move away from there ... wow! I'm humbled by that.

Our kids were AWESOME! I loved watching them serve and reach out to people. Seriously, I have been totally blown away by our kids so many times this year and this was definitely one of those times. We had a nice mix of teenagers ... some who've been on mission trips before and some who hadn't. But, they all really stepped up and allowed themselves to be stretched. I wish I had more pictures of them in "action" but it was kind of hard to serve and take pictures at the same time. So, the pictures I've posted below don't even begin to show exactly what they did. We primarily did three different things while we were there: 1) Fed the homeless and tried to have some spiritual conversations with them. 2) Prayer walked and prayed with people. 3) Installed smoke detectors in people's homes for "Fire Prevention Weekend." The smoke detectors were just an "in." The real goal was to build relationships and pray with people.

Our group at Urban Hope

Of course we ordered some Philly Cheese Steaks at Geno's.

Making sandwiches Friday night to take to some homeless people in the city.

On our way back we stopped in my hometown and stayed the night. We started out the next morning by taking a walk in the mountains to get some good exercise and enjoy some amazing scenery.
I loved seeing our kids in action and I loved seeing them build relationships together. One of the really cool things was that half of our group really didn't know each other. That changed by the end of the weekend and some great relationships were formed. And, can I just say that spending nearly 24 hours traveling with a group primarily made up of girls ... a riot! And, even more fun for the one teenage guy that went with us.

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