Grace continues its partnership with Urban Hope in Philadelphia
On March 7, a bus full of 18 Grace students drove 13 hours to spend the week in Philadelphia. The week was full of soul food and real Philly cheese steak, but the students came back nourished in more ways than one.
Aside from the tourist opportunities — students got to see the famous Rocky steps, the Liberty Bell, and visit a black church (Sharon Baptist) — they also had the opportunity to minister in many ways to the community around them.
Urban Hope, the organization that hosted them, put them to work dry walling, painting, picking up trash, landscaping, and working with the children’s ministry called Kingdom Kids. They also helped out at Sunday Breakfast and Inner City Missions homeless shelters, serving food in the soup kitchens and street evangelism.
Through Inner City Missions, the students fed the homeless on the roughest corner of Philly, and passed out tracts that explained the gospel.
“It was a good time to get out of our comfort zone and to practice talking out our faith,” said Quentin Guess, a senior at Grace. “I have done that before, but not to that extent. At first it was hard, but after a few days it became natural, I was very surprised. People listened.”
Urban Hope’s mission is very strategic. Street evangelizing wouldn’t have a positive impact if Urban Hope didn’t have an already-established reputation in the community.
“It’s almost like [the needy in Philly] were so dependent on those in the ministry and so thankful that they were able to listen.” Guess explained, “Meeting the physical needs of the community is a platform for telling them about Jesus.”
Caleb Sanders, a sophomore at Grace, was impressed by the long-term plans of Urban Hope to impact the city through Kingdom Kids, Urban Hope’s central ministry. The program brings in kids from all over the neighborhood for a VBS-like gathering on Sunday afternoons.
“Urban Hope is trying to impact the community by starting with children, so that they can go back and be an example to the parents. Also, when the kids grow up, they will in turn be Christian parents,” Sanders explained.
Sanders and Guess both returned home feeling more changed than useful. “It made me realize how silly it is to complain about Beta smelling bad when some people consider the street curbs and dark alleys that smell like urine as their home. It made me realize how petty my problems really are.”
“There’s such a huge void of Christ there,” Sanders said. “There’s so much work to be done… so many people out there need to be shown the love of Christ through a sandwich.”
Guess found himself changed as well: “It definitely made me think through and talk through my faith, and it makes it easier to branch out to people that I have relationships with at work, school or home. It has made me more intentional.”
“I thought the trip was a great learning experience. It was like nothing I’ve done before,” Guess said.
Story by MariJean Wegert | Staff Writer | firstname.lastname@example.org