Last week, we had a group from Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia. There were about 30 people that stayed at The Center. Since this was such a large group, we spilt them 3 different worksites. The sites for the week were Babcock Presbyterian Church, Rosemont Community Interfaith Coalition and Knox Presbyterian Church. I had the pleasure of working with a group of 7 youth and 2 adults at Knox Presbyterian Church. My group also worked at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church. The week was filled with mural painting and relationship building.
On Monday and Tuesday mornings, we went to Amazing Grace Lutheran Church to help with restoring a mural with their summer camp and doing some gardening. Amazing Grace has had a mural on the ground that need some fresh paint to restore its beauty. We had the opportunity to work with the campers in their summer camp to start this process. The Eastside Baptist group and I got to hang out with the campers while painting and eat lunch with them.
Our Monday through Friday evenings were filled with going to Knox Presbyterian Church and helping out at their Vacation Bible School (VBS). Their theme was God’s Water Heroes so we learned all about saving water and being nice to our environment (ie. not littering and recycling). We also had the opportunity of helping them paint a new mural that is on the side of their church. Both of these worksites lead to lots of new relationships between the youth and the campers. This was the first time we had a group working with Knox Presbyterian Church. After service on Sunday, we had the opportunity of eating lunch with the members of the church. We all instantly felt at home and I knew that this was going to be a great partnership. All the adult volunteers were friendly and so open to us being there! Through the week, we all built relationships and went out of our comfort zones to have a great week of VBS. By the end of the week, you could tell that some true friendships were made with the campers and the Eastside Baptist youth. One evening, one of the campers came up to me and gave me a big hug and told me that she would miss me. This instantly melted my heart. It is always crazy to me when I realize what a big impact by just being present with kids can be for them and you.
As I have said, last week led to a lot of new relationships and really showed how mission is relational. Thursday morning, we started the day with a devotion on The Road to Emmaus and I asked the group to think about where they see Jesus along their day. After, the group and I went on a scripture scavenger hunt. We were given 10 different scriptures and we had to find something that represented the scripture. As we were completing the hunt, we walked into a park and I decided to say hello to a man who was sitting on a bench. He said hello and asked what we were doing. I told him and instantly thought that this conversation would abruptly end and we would continue on. However, I was wrong. We ended up having about a 30 minute conversation with him and learned that his name was Dwight. Dwight was very excited about our scripture scavenger hunt. We learned that Dwight went to seminary and was also in the military. Somewhere a long his life journey, he became homeless. Yet, he did not let that keep him down and derail him from his faith. For 30 minutes, we shared our scriptures with Dwight and he shared his interpretation with us. This moment was exactly what mission was about. It is about meeting people, who may be different from you, and being able to talk with them and get to know them despite those differences. As the was conversation happening, it was heartwarming to see how engaged the youth were when talking to Dwight. I also couldn’t believe that we talked about The Road to Emmaus that morning and were blessed with meeting Dwight. Each one of us were crossing a boundary we don’t normally cross and doing it respectfully and gracefully. This conversation was definitely a highlight for not just me but for Eastside Baptist. We talked about it all during our debrief that day. The youth talked about how it was uncomfortable and awkward at first but they were glad to have met Dwight and hear what he had to say.
This was another amazing week where what we teach during program about mission being relational was able to be shown to the group in such incredible ways.