Hitting the ground running!
by Elisabeth | July 7, 2013 11:26 PM
We arrived! After checking into our rooms at the hotel we headed over to the Dolton campus of New Community Church for a youth night. We had a great time playing large group games of "Paint Spill" and "King of England" (see photo!), after which we broke into small groups to discuss Romans 12. We enjoyed getting to know the youth of New Community over pizza and ice cream sundaes!
We also had a great orientation meeting. We re-focused ourselves on God through worship, learned more about the community of Dolton, and strategized for the upcoming week. We're excited to plunge into ministry tomorrow through service projects in local parks, prayer walks, and sports camps.
Pray for us as we serve the Dolton and Park Forest communities that we love authentically and are keeping ourselves open to all that God has in store!
God's Plans > Our Plans
by Elisabeth | July 8, 2013 11:21 PM
After an early breakfast at the hotel we headed to the church for quiet time, and to pack our lunches for the day. Pastor Derrick presented some tips to ensure the safety of the children we'll be working with, and then we split into two groups for a day of ministering in the communities of Dolton and Park Forest. Our best laid plans of doing park cleanup were suddenly changed by the torrential downpour that lasted until after lunch. God's plans were better anyhow! Those of us who stayed in Dolton worked with the Dolton Park Service on straightening, organizing, and taking inventory of two large storage sheds. A lot of the tools we were sorting and taking inventory of will be put to use later in the week in our ministry!
The other half of the team stayed at the church to stuff church literature in door hangers, for use on prayer walks throughout the week. Although they initially planned on helping the City of Dolton clean up several abandoned houses, the rain shifted the teams focus. We drove to each of the houses to assess the work that needed done, but more importantly, spent time praying over the homes and neighborhoods we drove through.
God brought sunshine in his perfect timing. It dried out just in time for our sports ministry in the afternoon. With half of us in Park Forest, and half of us in Dolton we spent quality time with a lot of kids and teens in the afternoon. Basketball and Nine Square (an expansion of four square) were special favorites of the team and local kids alike! While the older kids played sports, we enjoyed spending time with the younger children singing songs, and decorating cardboard treasure chests to remind them that we are God's treasure.
In the evening we put on a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at a local recreation center. While some of us enjoyed playing basketball, others spent time getting to know the the community members who were watching the action and playing with the younger children who were there. We're hoping to see some of the same families come back throughout the week.
Pray that God energizes and encourages us as we continue to serve the communities of Dolton and Park Forest, and the congregation of New Community Church.
by Elisabeth | July 8, 2013 11:34 PM
Talking with community members during the 3-on-3 basket ball tournament.
God is at work!
by Elisabeth | July 9, 2013 11:46 PM
We had an amazing day full of prayer walking, service projects, and relational ministry. After breakfast and personal devotions Pastor Ed spoke to us about the power of prayer walking, and gave us instructions on what streets to go on. New Community really has a vision for “praying on-sight with insight” and we had an incredible time walking the streets of Dolton praying for strongholds to be broken, souls to be won, and lives to be redeemed. In the late morning we divided up into two groups. One group attacked the jungle surrounding several abandoned houses in the neighborhood, and the other group worked at a local park clearing brush and painting a fence surrounding a basketball court. It’s exciting to see the transformations take place before our very eyes!
The VBS and sports ministry in the afternoon included a lot of time to share the gospel message with kids in small groups. Using creative cardboard visual aids called flipper-flappers, we had the privilege of walking a lot of kids through the story of salvation, and then praying with them. Seeds are planted that we believe by faith will grow into fruition.
The evening 3-on-3 basketball tournament was a huge success! We had a huge turn-out, in part because of the door-hangers we hung on Monday, and also by word of mouth. We excitedly cheered on as one of our teams of three actually beat a local team! While part of the team interacted with those watching the tournament, the other half of the team started a kickball game in the field next to the gym. Where there is a game, kids will show up! We had quite a lot of kids show up, and we’re hoping for even more tomorrow!
Pray for a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind as each one of us steps outside our comfort zones to show God’s love to the people of Dolton.
Its all about the people
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 7:44 PM
While we have had a full schedule of prayer walking, service projects, and sports camps, we’re all learning that the real ministry is the conversations we get to have with people because of those activities. This morning we went prayer walking with Pastor Ed in the streets around the church. We got to stop and pray with several people, and we know that God is also going to use the door hangers to minister to many others.
At both the abandoned houses and the parks we were able to stop and pray with people who were inquiring about what we were doing. Although we were busy painting fences, pulling weeds, cutting grass and trimming branches we still made people our first priority. Our service to the city and the park system is helping to show the people of Dolton that the Church cares about them and their community.
We wish you could hear the shouts of the children in VBS as they scream “we’re gonna send our praise to heaven”! All of the kids are really engaged with the songs, stories, crafts, and one-on-one prayer times.
The older children seem to really enjoy the sports. Soccer has become the biggest hit, though they also enjoy basketball, four square, and chalk. During one of the breaks we shared the story of Daniel and the lions’ den and had small group ministry and prayer time afterwards.
Pray that God would give us boldness and courage to talk and pray with people we come across. Pray also that God gives each of us the right words to use when we minister to the people of Dolton.
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 7:45 PM
Knock-out is a favorite with the kids of Dolton!
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 7:47 PM
The basketball tournament at Dolton park is bringing in lots of kids, teens, and parents!
Small Group Discussion
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 7:49 PM
Spending quality time with kids during the sports camp at Park Forest!
Attacking the Jungle
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 7:55 PM
The abandoned houses are starting to look tamed, now that we've attacked the overgrowth with lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and elbow grease.
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 8:11 PM
"I got my hair done...... fifteen times!!!"
by Elisabeth | July 10, 2013 8:19 PM
Every night we worship, debrief, and pray as a team.
by Elisabeth | July 11, 2013 2:58 PM
Events like the VBS and sports camp are just vehicles for real, life changing relationships to form.
Who has been more changed?
by Elisabeth | July 11, 2013 3:45 PM
The fantastic thing about mission trips is that they affect not only those who are receiving ministry, but also those who are giving it. This morning, God laid on the heart of one of the leaders the need to pray over the students. We’ve been praying that the community would believe truth rather than lies, but each of us believed lies about ourselves. We spent much of our morning in small groups, discussing those lies and then praying for each of the students that God would replace the lies with truth. At the end each person verbally declared the following.
“My name is __________. I am not (a lie of the enemy they had believed about themselves). I am (truth found in scripture) because I am a son/daughter of the most high God who died for me and covered me in His righteousness. God is always (truth about God that we find difficult to believe sometimes).”
It was powerful to hear student after student proclaim truth and reject the lies they had believed for so long. Nobody left the room the same. While we had to be flexible about our ministry schedule we were exactly on God’s schedule.
So who has been the most changed this week? The team or the people we have met during our ministry? With God, do we have to limit it to one or the other?
While God has undeniably impacted each of our lives, he’s also used us to reach out to countless individuals in Dolton.
There are the little boys who found new best friends among the team, as well as men to look up to.
There were the teenage girls who opened up to us about their past and allowed us to pray with them.
There are the community members of Dolton who saw Christ in action to meet serious needs at the parks and at abandoned houses, as well as the city and park department employees whose hearts were softened to the gospel by the tireless and cheerful efforts of the team on difficult projects.
There are the pastors and members of New Community who excitedly served beside us because they know that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
As one of the youth group guys who worked beside us most of the week said: “I’m going to come to this park all the time to play basketball. And when I do, I’m going to tell all my friends that ‘those Pelicans painted that fence!’”
And that is a legacy that will last a lot longer than the paint under our fingernails, the blisters on our fingers, and all the sore muscles in our bodies.
Celebrating the Week
by Elisabeth | July 12, 2013 11:20 PM
This morning's focus was once again prayer. God directed Pastor Ed to ask us to pray around the church for God to demolish the strongholds of the enemy in the community. He exhorted us with Scripture of the power of our prayers.
Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Praying boldly for the community of Dolton and for all of the individuals we've met this week was the perfect way to end our week of ministry!
We headed down to Lou Malnati's in downtown Chicago for some deep-dish pizza. We enjoyed having our friends from New Community join us. It was only fitting that they enjoy the pizza with us since they worked beside us the entire week on every service project, sports camp, and prayer walk. We'll miss them dearly!
After lunch we headed over to the Shedd Aquarium. The picture is from the penguin play area. We used the penguin costumes, and after the picture was taken some of us even went down the "ice" slide on our bellies in true penguin style. The highlight of the afternoon was the aquatic show featuring Beluga whales, sea lions, and dolphins. God's creation is incredible!
Although our time of ministry in Dolton is done, we know that God will continue to work in the hearts of those we've ministered to, and in the community as a whole. We're excited to see what God does next!