Livin' the City Life

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Being able to step into someone else's shoes & learn about their everyday lives is an experience I will never forget. I will try & take what I have learned & bring it into the rest of my life.

- Rachel

From the plains of North Dakota to the skyscrapers of Chicago and Milwaukee, Team B road-tripped over 1,000 miles for their first ministry trip of the year. Experiencing SO many different cultures in such a short time has definitely changed our perspective on life. We try to challenge our students to see the World through the eyes of others and we hope this blog challenges YOU to view those around you in a whole new light as well.

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To see the World as others do we need to interact and engage with those we do not normally encounter. To accomplish this we began our journey in the breathtaking city of Chicago. During our stay, we partnered with Belmont Assembly of God with Youth Pastor Joey Silva. On our first full day, Joey took us on a city tour so we could get a better understanding of his city and the people who live there. With each new street we drove on we heard of the communities stories and the various cultures represented in each. It was like stepping into different worlds as we experienced the different cultural areas: Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Cuban, China Town, and Little India.

After we had the opportunity to see some different cultural areas and get a better understanding of the area it was time to get active. Belmont AG has a ministry called Seeds of Compassion that reaches out to those who are homeless and have no other ways of getting the necessities they need. One of their leaders, Joshua, shared with us his powerful testimony and how God has radically transformed his life. In the few moments we had before going out on the streets to minister, he shared with us words that have convicted each of us to make an impact in our communities. 

It has opened my eyes to the issues we have right in our backyard. I pray that God opens my heart more to feel for others. I don’t want to be numb to the world around me. I want to be present and aware. I need to be advocating, taking care, and praying for those around me.
— Amanda
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This stunning double rainbow met us right as we were leaving to go pray with those on the streets. It was a timely reminder of God's faithfulness & promises. It gave us that extra push of boldness knowing we were not alone!

We then stepped out of our comfort zones and vehicles to walk into the areas where Chicago's less fortunate have taken up residence. As we stood and prayed with those whom society has in some ways ignored we couldn't help but ask, "Has anyone every done this before?" So one of our students asked if anyone had ever come down underneath this particular underpass and prayed with them before. The answer shocked and challenged each of us. NO. Plain and simple, no one had taken the time to stop and talk or pray with them. We know that there are ministries reaching out to those who are living on the streets, yet this shows how much more work there is to be done among those whom God loves so dearly. 

“Be nice to everyone, we are all people and we all just want to be treated like one!” A man who was homeless named Caesar told me this and it changed my attitude and outlook on the people trapped in homelessness and poverty...The biggest idea that kept recurring was the truth that every person rich or poor, in a home or homeless is a person chosen and made by God.
— Seth

On Sunday, we attended Belmont AG where we experienced both their English and Spanish services. The team loved seeing the beautiful cultural differences and hearing our same God be praised in another language. That evening, our team had the privilege to hold a service for the young adult ministry. Our students powerfully proclaimed a message of persisting in our relationship with Christ. It was beautiful to see how the Lord strategically helped each testimony, spoken word, or message flow perfectly together to challenge our hearers.

                                                              Never a dull moment with this bunch!

                                                             Never a dull moment with this bunch!

We then transitioned to our next ministry which has a focus on community development in the city of Milwaukee. The goal of City on a Hill is to help their community, made up of mostly low income residents, to develop and create better lives for themselves. For us this involved not only reaching out to community members but also becoming educated on what their neighborhoods really face on a day to day basis. Whether we were serving food, volunteering at a free health clinic, participating in a poverty simulation, or going out and praying for people within the community, each aspect of our time in Milwaukee taught us that there is something that every single one of us can do to make an impact for the Kingdom. To get a better understanding into what happened in the lives of our team during this time we would love to share with you a quote from one of our students.

My friends and I spent eight days in the inner cities of Chicago and Milwaukee walking streets, listening to stories, and learning a whole lot about real life. God steadily unraveled my own expectations and ideas of poverty and showed me the raw realities that people are living with. I was exposed to the genuine struggles people face and learned that being hungry means so much more when there isn’t money to go buy groceries.

After this trip, it couldn’t be more obvious how desperately people just need to be heard and need to be loved. Honestly, it’s not even that complicated. I can make excuse after excuse about why I can’t do something, what I lack for others, or why I can’t relate to someone, but I’ve realized that all God asks of us is that we listen. First we listen to Him, and then we step outside of ourselves and open our hearts to hear from others.

I cannot change the situation or class I have been born into, yet I am responsible for recognizing my blessings and understanding my place in meeting other’s needs. Because when I actually humble myself to really listen, it is so obvious that we as people are way more similar than we are different. We all have passions, struggles and challenges to overcome. But even more, we all need relationships. We need people that will encourage, challenge, and push us forward into believing what God knows is possible for our lives.

My point is that our lives can’t be spent always caught up in our own present circumstances. There are people we encounter every day that need to be loved and it’s our responsibility to invest in those relationships. It’s our responsibility to be their person; to see that they exist and care about them, to love them.
— SHANNON

This is only a fraction of some of the things we learned and experienced! Thankful that there is still so much that the Lord is going to teach us throughout this coming year.