Youth Serving in the City

In the first week of August, twelve students and two adults from All Souls, Church of the Savior, and Church of the Great Shepherd spent time in the Edgewater neighborhood, serving the community. Some of us served food at a homeless shelter while others talked with the guests. We staffed a food pantry, walking clients through as they picked up their groceries. We served dinner at a women’s shelter, and sat and listened to stories of the women who spent some time there, getting back on their feet. Half of us sorted and boxed up books that went to children throughout Chicago, the other half boxed up textbooks that went to a university library overseas. There were little jobs and big jobs. And all through the week the students were willing to serve in whatever capacity was asked of them.

People naturally ask after a trip “how did it go?” This is my tenth mission trip with our group, and it becomes hard to really assess how each year goes. Do we measure it by the impact of the work we did? The organizations we partnered with do really good work, and we were able to come alongside them, ease their burden for a week, so they can keep on doing kingdom work the other 51 weeks of the year.

Do we measure it by injuries? There were zero. Mission Accomplished 🙂

Do we measure it by the impact in our own lives? We do pray that God shows us things about ourselves on these trips, that we can draw closer to Jesus, as He promised to be present in the hungry and the thirsty and the stranger when we encounter them. But chasing spiritual highs can be a dangerous game where you start to treat other people’s problems as the means by which you get your next hit of “philanthropy.” Or, as a friend of mine called it: “poverty tourism.” So we pray for change in our lives, but we don’t serve for the purpose of feeling good ourselves.

I hope that the trip was successful in that fourteen of us raised funds and took a week of our lives to serve others. That during the week God provided some for the people we served, and that those of us serving were more and more formed into the likeness of Christ, who chose to empty Himself for our sake. That habits of loving and serving others were ingrained just a little deeper into our own lives, so that we can walk with Christ more faithfully.

Was it a success? I think it was. I think we did good work, I think God worked in our lives, and maybe we even were able to sense His presence in the midst of it all.

My thanks to our churches who support us and help us go on these trips year after year.And my thanks to God who has us walk alongside Him in the way of the cross.

(Check out some pictures from our trip to get a picture of what it was we were up to!)