The Grace College Go Philadelphia group in front of Urban Hope
Want a run-down of what 25 participants did and what they learned during their week at Urban Hope in Philly? Here is a report from Tristan Spuller, one of the student leaders for this spring break trip:
Go Encounter Philadelphia was an exciting time of getting to do ministry in America’s fifth biggest city! Showing up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed for the 6:45 A.M. bus ride, our team of 24 students made the lively trip on Friday, March 3rd and arrived a short thirteen hours later at Urban Hope Training Center. After a night of rest, it was a full week of opportunities and interaction with the city of brotherly love.
During our trip we were given multiple opportunities to engage with the diverse culture of Philadelphia. Our experiences included interacting with members of a Cambodian neighborhood, participating in a worship service at a dominantly African-American Baptist church, serving at a homeless ministry and assisting in feeding the homeless, visiting and engaging with people at a large international market, helping with children’s ministry, and doing various types of ministry with people in the inner-city. All of these opportunities proved incredibly eye-opening for our students as many learned to care for people who are vastly different from themselves. Our students also learned the value of doing ministry as a team and the importance of learning in community.
On Sunday night, our team assisted with the children’s ministry at Urban Hope. While being apart of it, our students were able to build relationships with the children, participate in games, and lead small group discussions about the lesson. Students were able to see a unique children’s ministry geared towards inner-city kids and walked away encouraged and impressed with the program. Another valuable opportunity was getting to do homeless ministry under the elevated train in Philadelphia. While split into groups, one group of team members got into a spiritual conversation with a man who had been recently attending two churches and questioning what he believed about Christianity. One of our team members Jonathan Chappell found out his story and was then able to lead him to the Lord that night. One final story that illustrates the impact had on our students is about opportunities that are being sought out to minister to the community in Kosciusko County. This past week, team member Briel DeGraff sent an email to our Philly team presenting an opportunity for us to do a prayer walk through the community this coming Sunday, citing that what we learned in Philadelphia can be applied in the same way here. These stories display how God worked and provided cool opportunities that are leaving a lasting impact on hearts and attitudes.
In addition to opportunities provided, some cultural insights were gained as a result of the time spent on the trip. As mentioned, it was largely evidenced that there are many different ways of life than ours. Our students experienced significant culture shock seeing the culture of the inner-city. Another insight, however, was seeing the openness and friendliness of those in the inner city. Most of our students were intimidated and frightened heading into a part of town that was visibly different than what they would know as home. However, after getting to interact, our students saw the warmth and friendliness of these people and grew to love the community. Similarly, our team gained an understanding of likenesses shared with these people; in the same ways as we do, people in the inner city have deep love for family, enjoy strong community, and have a lot of the same desires for life.
In conclusion, we would appreciate prayer for the following things. Pray for the ministry of Urban Hope Training Center. We were blessed to work alongside them for the week and encouraged by the community they have built in the inner city. Pray that God would continue to bless them and use them to reach people. Second, pray for the people we met and engaged with during the week. Pray that God would be working in their hearts and that our interactions would be just a part of a greater plan that He has for their lives. Third, pray for the other ministries we worked with through the week, that God would use them collectively to reach the city of Philadelphia for His Kingdom. Fourth, pray for our students, that this experience would resonate in their hearts and would continue to grow in them a heart for ministering to people. And finally, pray that opportunities would be presented and taken advantage of by our team throughout the rest of our lives. Pray that our students would become people who live on-mission for Christ in every capacity of their lives. Thank you for your support, whether it was financial, prayerful, or simply taking the time to read this report. Your investment was worth it and has made a lasting difference! Continue to support us in prayer as we have opportunities to grow and reach others for Christ.
To find out more about Urban Hope, visit urbanhope.net.