by Elisabeth | July 14, 2013 9:55 PM
We arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon and headed over to New Community Church in Dolton for a youth night. We spent the evening getting to know the youth of New Community with large group games and a pizza party. It was great to build relationships with the team and with the youth we’ll be ministering with this week.
After the youth night we had a quick orientation meeting. In addition to laying out ground rules and briefing us on the plan for the week PPM Team Leader Stephanie reminded us through Psalm 91 that God is our strength, refuge, protection, and salvation. We’re excited to start ministry tomorrow through service projects and VBS!
Pray that God would use us as He sees best, and that we can hear His voice clearly as he directs us through the week.
The Body of Christ in Action
by Elisabeth | July 15, 2013 7:57 PM
This morning we attended a child safety course with Pastor Derrick, a prerequisite for working with children at New Community Church. After we headed over to an abandoned house near the church and attacked the overgrowth with clippers, garbage bags, shovels, saws, rakes, and elbow grease. We all pitched together and finished the house today! We’re praying that God shows His love to the people of the neighborhood through our efforts. After we finished cleaning up, we spent some time in prayer asking God to use the plot of land we cleared for his purposes. It was so cool to see the body of Christ in action as we had people from 5 different states (Alabama, South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Illinois) worked together to transform the house.
After a quick break to clean up, and a dinner of fried chicken, potato wedges, and coleslaw, we started working with New Community Church’s vacation bible school. We spread out as needed, filling roles as security personnel, worship leaders, game directors, kitchen crew, and assistant teachers. We’re excited to get to know the kids better as the week progresses!
Pray for us that we would make people our top priority, and that we would make the most of very opportunity God gives us to minister to the community.
Attacking the Jungle
by Elisabeth | July 16, 2013 3:56 PM
The team at work on the abandoned house!
by Elisabeth | July 16, 2013 3:57 PM
The abandoned house before we started work!
by Elisabeth | July 16, 2013 3:59 PM
The abandoned house after we finished! The large pile of brush will be picked up by the city to complete the job.
by Elisabeth | July 16, 2013 4:01 PM
Playing games with the kids!
by Elisabeth | July 16, 2013 11:03 PM
Pastor Ed met us at the Church this morning and gave us a talk on prayer walking. He likened our prayers to the water that puts a fire out. Because the “fire” in Dolton rages strongly, we need lots of prayer to put it out, rather than just a little. Feeling inspired, we hit up several streets near the church with door-hangers advertising the church’s evening VBS, an stopped and prayed with multiple people. One of the things we prayed for was divine appointments to pray with people we met. God answered our prayers and we had great conversations with several neighborhood residents. Our prayer walk took us right by Needles Park where our afternoon service project was located. We met up with Mr. Cotton and Mr. Knuckles with the Dolton Parks Department and we started work painting the large fence surrounding the basketball court. We worked steadily until our delicious lunch of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, and fries from by a local chain. Delicious! We continued until mid afternoon when we took a break to clean up before the evening.
Tonight we’re continuing to work with VBS. Tonight we shared the parable of the lost sheep and reminded the kids that Jesus is the good shepherd. After VBS we had our nightly meeting where we spent time telling our life stories of how God has worked in our lives. It is so cool to see the common threads in each of our stories, but also the unique ways that God has drawn each of us to ourselves. Hopefully God will give us opportunities to share our stories with people from the community!
Pray for us that we may be active in sharing our faith so that we will have full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ (Philemon 1:6). Pray also that God would impart his love to us so that we can represent him in all that we do.
In our weakness, He is strong!
by Elisabeth | July 17, 2013 11:25 PM
In an effort to beat the heat, we flipped our schedule around and started the day with fence painting at Needles Park. We made a lot of progress today even with high heat and humidity. We’re almost done! We’re confident we can finish the job tomorrow!
In the afternoon Pastor Derrick took us prayer walking at Blackstone Park. We took trash bags with us and spent some time picking up trash, while also praying for the “trash” in the lives of those who live near or use the park.
Tonight’s VBS went well. The kids are continuing to learn about Zacchaeus, and God loved Zacchaeus even when Zacchaeus was sinning. The entire week is centered on “growing in friendship with God”. It’s so rewarding to hear the kids share what they have been learning about God, and to receive so many hugs and smiles!
Continue to pray for strength and energy. We want to finish strong, but we need God’s grace to do so!
by Elisabeth | July 18, 2013 11:10 PM
In spite of the heat we had a great day! We started work on the fence early in the morning, and appreciated that so many of the youth from the church were able to join us. We finished the entire fence before lunch! It looks so shiny and new! Mr. Knuckles, the park superintendent told us that now that the fence has been painted, the city will let him resurface the basketball court. The kids and teens in Dolton will soon have a completely redone basketball court to play on. It is remarkable how the entire atmosphere of the park has changed now that the chain link fence is shiny silver rather than rusty and dull!
After a delicious lunch of hot roast beef sandwiches at the church, we went on a prayer walk with Pastor Derrick. Today Pastor Derrick wanted us to focus on individual houses as we walked. Although we aren’t able to see the impact of our prayers right now, we know they are powerful all the same. Time will reveal the ways God will work through our prayers to transform the community.
It was a bittersweet last evening of VBS. The kids are so loving and cute and we’re all sad to leave them, but we made the most of our time with them. The kids enjoyed eating “dirt” and planting marigolds in decorated flower pots, and at the end of the evening Pastor Derrick talked to the kids about what it means to be friends with Jesus. He encouraged those kids who had never asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior to talk to their crew leaders about what that meant. There was quite a celebration in heaven as several children became part of God’s family!
It was also sad to leave the good friends we’ve made at the church. We spent a while after VBS hanging out and saying good bye to all of youth from the church that we’ve spent so much time with the past few days. We’ve really built a solid relationship with New Community Church this week but it hurts a little to leave.
The Power of Prayer
by Elisabeth | July 18, 2013 11:12 PM
Prayer has been a major focus of our week. We serve a powerful God who answers prayer!
Celebrating the Week
by Elisabeth | July 19, 2013 10:46 PM
This morning Pastor Melvin took us on a prayer walk in the business district of Dolton. We prayed that the business owners would operate with integrity, and that good jobs would stay in Dolton to help keep families stable. After we got back to the church we said our last goodbyes to our new friends. We’ve made wonderful friends with the youth and pastors at New Community Church, and we’re sad to leave. After our goodbyes we headed into the city where we enjoyed pizza from Lou Malnati’s for lunch and then split up into groups for sight-seeing. We’ve had a week full of hard work and ministry, and it was a wonderful blessing to relax with our team and reflect on the week.
Please pray for safe travel as we head home tomorrow!