The Justice and Compassion team returned home from Englewood, thanking God for the great week of ministry as well as the spiritual and personal growth team members experienced. Here is one last glimpse into their week at Urban Youth Outreach.
Thursday was water day! After breakfast, the team went to North Avenue Beach, where we had some sandy devotions and prayer for the children and youth we met this week. We then jumped in the lake and had a great time of fun and coming together even more as a team. A few of us even managed to get yelled at by lifeguards for swimming out too far.
On our way back to UYO (Urban Youth Outreach), we stopped at Harold's Chicken on 53rd Street. The chicken was unbelievable and the catfish brought Jaimeson to tears. Around 1:30, we returned to the center and head out on prayer walks.
For my prayer group (Mrs. Humphrey, Emma, Heather, Eric and myself), this walk was the most eventful one of the week. At the beginning, we prayed with another group as well as members of the community. While this was special on its own, it became a particularly unique experience when one man thanked God that people from such different communities and cultures were holding hands to pray to our Creator. His enthusiasm about the unity in Christ of both black and white communities surprised me, but wasn't far-fetched considering the lack of diversity in Englewood. Later on our walk, we met a man working on his pick up truck in a parking lot. When we asked to pray with him, he insisted that we only pray in God's name, not in Jesus' name. Surprised by this, we asked him about his beliefs and learned the he stopped praying to Jesus when his "spirit" told him that it didn't work, and now only prayed to God. He seemed surprised to learn that we believed the Bible. After a little more discussion, he drove off and we prayed that he would recognize his need for the Savior as a mediator between our sin and God's holiness.
Back at the center, the afternoon started off as usual. After some play time, we performed a contemporary skit of the story of the Prodigal Son, hoping to teach the kids that God will forgive them no matter what. (Unfortunately, most kids had trouble going from the story to application.)
Then came the water balloons. For several hours, young and older kids alike were running up and down the street and all around the center, soaking each other with balloons, squirt guns and buckets. Young men who had literally shot at each other with intent to kill a few days before were now laughing together and chasing each other with water rather than bullets. This was a powerful example of the spiritual and relational reconciliation that God is performing through UYO.
After dinner, we had a Bible study with a group that meets at the center every Thursday night. The study was lead by Markus Lewis, who had spent 40 years as a homeless addict before coming to Christ. Also at the study was a young man named Rashad, a dancer who recently came to Christ after a suicide attempt, and a girl named Trenia. Following the study, Rashad gave us a dancing lesson, which was very humbling. All in all, a fun, eventful and fruitful day.