I spent the past 4 days on a mission trip to inner-city Philadelphia at a place called Urban Hope. I had the opportunity to take 7 of our high school students and 3 of our former student leaders (now in college) on this trip and it was an amazing experience! There are so many reasons why I love teenagers and I was reminded of several of them while on this trip. Here are a few:
- Not a single complaint out of our group. Even when things didn't turn out the way we were expecting a few different times ... even when the weather turned absolutely nasty ... even when kids were shivering from the cold ... even after 24 hours in the van ... not a single complaint!
- They worked incredibly hard at whatever they were asked to do.
- They initiated conversations with several homeless people and tried to turn those conversations in to "spiritual" conversations.
- They prayed for and with people.
- They literally danced ... yes ... danced for a homeless person.
- They were so much fun and brought so much energy with them. Lots of laughs!
Here are a few of the pics from our trip.
This is our group with Ed Lewis ... our point person on this trip. Ed is in his 60's but is as young a person as you will find. He has worked for CE National for, well, as long as I can remember, and has just recently transitioned his role at CE to spend half of the year in Winona Lake, IN (the headquarters of CE National) and the other half of the year in inner-city Philadelphia. The reason he did this is because he wanted to try to have more of an impact on people. I've always had so much respect for Ed, but my respect has definitely grown over the years and our kids just fell in love with him. He was such an encouragement to work with.
On Friday night we spent some time making meals for homeless people. Here is part of our group getting some sandwiches and other good stuff ready to be passed out.
After making the meals we headed in to "Center City" to initiate conversations with some homeless people and pass out some meals and hot chocolate. It was a cold night and the hot chocolate definitely hit the spot for many. The best thing was just seeing our kids talk and talk and talk with homeless people. They prayed with them and just really showed love to them. It was such an encouragement for me to see.
The weather was a definite obstacle on our trip. Who would have thought that there would be a pretty big snow storm in October? But, there was. It rained, then sleeted, then snowed the entire day on Saturday really disrupting some of the outdoor stuff we had planned. But, our kids made the best of it and still tried to initiate conversations with people in the middle of the storm by going door to door. They also shoveled the sidewalks around Urban Hope. The above picture is at a rest stop on the PA Turnpike. We decided to leave earlier than planned on Saturday night because of the snow. I'm glad we did. The trip to this rest stop (which took about an hour and a half) was pretty slick the entire way. The snow plows hadn't hit the toll road yet, so things were just really slippery. While at the rest stop we found out that an accident about 10 miles ahead had shut down the toll road. So, we just waited at a rest stop (that had no power by the way) for over an hour. By that time, the snow plows had made it through and that helped tremendously as we made our way to spend the night at my hometown in South West Pennsylvania.
This was my 6th trip to Urban Hope and I love the ministry there and the opportunities for ministry it provides for our students.