All is quiet while I write to you from the church as all your kids are sound asleep after another beautiful day in the south side.
Today students continued serving in their work groups at the school, at Living Hope Church, and at Sunshine. In the afternoon, students had the opportunity to share a meal with someone from the homeless community in the financial district of Chicago. Be sure to ask them about this...it was so encouraging to hear them share about how they stepped out in faith to share a meal with someone and hear their story. God is at work in and through our students!
Tonight, Jared shared a message on the question "Why are people poor?" He shared three reasons why a person may fall into or stay in poverty: tragedy, personal sin, and injustice and oppression. He then shared more about the reason the Bible speaks about the most...oppression and injustice. Jared's message challenged and encouraged our students to dig more into understanding God's heart for the poor, what this looks like on the south side, what this looks like at home, and what our response is as Christians to oppression and injustice.
Below are some reflections from our students on their experiences so far.
We are so thankful to be a part of what God is doing on the south side. Keep praying for us.
This trip has been amazing and has opened my eyes to see more about diversity and racism. It’s only been a few days and I am already wishing that this trip would be longer. I have grown in my faith and have become close to the kids that I am working with at the school. They make me smile and laugh when I spend time with them and they have been amazing to work with. My highlight of this trip was definitely riding the “El” train because I made an amazing friend named Bernard. He taught me so much about life, Jesus, and our society, and I can’t wait to see him again in heaven someday.(Charlie S)
One event on this mission trip that really impacted me was the meal share. We talked to a girl named Eliza, she was 16 years old (our age) and desperately wanted to go to school and get a job. This really put things into perspective because I sometimes don’t want to go to school which I now realize was quite selfish. We had already given all of our money and lunches to other homeless people that wanted nothing but that. We were feeling pretty discouraged that we hadn’t had any conversations with people. That’s when we saw Eliza. We had nothing to greet her with but a dollar and she received us with open arms. She sat with us and told us all about her amazing story. The only thing in her life constant enough for her to hold onto was God. This was so encouraging for my faith knowing how much she had been through and how strong she was in it. I will always remember Eliza and her story for my whole life and I am so blessed for the opportunity to hear it. (Laura H)
We have been to serve on the children’s team and we can see the impact not only in their lives, but ours too. Earlier today, there was an award ceremony for the elementary kids that had awards to receive such as perfect attendance, most improved, citizenship, and A and B honor rolls. We were surprised to see a young boy in our first grade class lagging behind with tears in his eyes, arms crossed, and a scowl on his face. At first he pushed us away telling us he didn’t want to talk. We told him we were always there if he wanted to tell us why he was sad. Minutes later he tapped our shoulder saying in a soft ashamed voice “I’m ready to talk about it now.” We immediately got on our knees to comfort him. He proceeded to tell us he had not gotten any awards at the ceremony and felt stupid, as a lot of his classmates were boastfully waving their awards in their air. We told him it shouldn’t affect how he felt about himself and how he should use it as motivation to work extra hard next year to receive one. We hugged him and he kept thanking us for the encouragement. We got back in the room and decided to quickly scribble out an “award” as an attempt to try and cheer him up. We wrote something like “best effort in the class – we will never forget you and you mean so much to us.” When we gave to him, he stared at it for a bit and then we asked if he wanted us to read it to him. As we read it, his eyes brightened up and he began to have tears again, but telling us “they are happy tears!” and hugged us again with a big smile. We had no idea that this little piece of paper would have such an impact on this kid and how easy it was for us to do something small for him, but it made a big difference. It taught us that we don’t have to do something big to make someone’s day better. (Jackie B and Lauren W)
One thing that I took away from today is that after the meal share, I realized that that there are tons of ways people could end up in poverty and my perspective on the poor has changed (Jacob B)
Working in the elementary school on the children's team has given me a new perspective and has changed my entire outlook on my life. I have come to the realization that I am blessed beyond belief. I have come to absolutely love the girls in my class, and I hope they feel the same way. I can’t wait to hang out with these kids for 3 more days and to see what Jesus is going to do in my life and theirs!!” (Sarah D)