The heat eased up today! We emerged for this mornings’ ministries to bright sunlight and cool temperatures. A few students had sweatshirts!
Splanchnizomai. The Greek word meaning “to be moved deeply”… as in your gut. The morning’s devotional focused on Matt 9:35-36 (same passage as CPC’s service last Sunday)! This word, translated as “moved with compassion”, is used twelve times in the New Testament. Today was a day of splanchnizomai.
In our morning ministries we cleaned a park, visited with families in need, prayer walked and handed out snacks to homeless addicts. All of this ministry followed a time of prayer when we asked the Lord where He would have us serve. Students felt God’s presence through a tug on their heart, a clear leading to a specific ministry, or even a vision of a need. We grouped by similar calling and headed out! Our hearts were deeply moved by the depravity and the losses we saw and heard about. We prayed with people who believed their life was worthless. Our students showed unconditional love, kind words, and life giving prayers.
Our afternoon children’s ministries continued in their third day. Our team continued forming deep relationships at the small church VBS. The children brought more friends, too! The parachute, dynamic skit and paper bag puppets filled a wonderful afternoon for the neighborhood children.
Our team doing the large park outreach saw their numbers grow also. The beautiful weather allowed all activities to remain outside. Yay! Children laughed, played frisbee and kickball, built sand castles, made crafts and sang. After story time, we handed out snacks. Sadly, we ran out. Not good. Two boys threw punches. In breaking up the fight, a couple of our adult leaders received significant elbow hits. Additional students from our team helped smooth things and helped walk the children home. Fighting appears to just be a part of life. No big deal…to them.
Our team served in several ministries after dinner. Don, Rachel and a portion of Red Letters led worship for our host church’s mid-week service. The service followed a free meal for the community – to which we had invited many people during our prayer walks and outreach. After the music, our team led a children’s church ministry for the additional hour left in the worship service. Amazing to hear how the Lord calmed one of the kids through scripture (more on that at the August 15 missions potluck!).
The other half of our team and the other half of Red Letters drove to Kensington Avenue to come alongside Cast Your Cares ministry. Among other things, they host coffee houses regularly for the homeless in the area. Red Letters would share their gift of music as our team would serve and chat with the guests.
While setting up to serve lemonade and Philadelphia water ice, I struck up a conversation with one of the staff members of the ministry. Josh is married with a baby. He works and serves at Cast Your Cares because the ministry profoundly changed his life. He was once homeless.
“What delivered you from the streets?” I asked.
“This place.” Josh pointed down gravel of the vacant lot now brimming with homeless guests and CPC students.
“How did you decide to overcome your addictions?”
“When homeless, I came nearly every week. One of the leaders told me that my problem was not the drugs and alcohol. It was a lack of something in my life…God. First time I ever heard that. That was why all the rehab failed me.”
Awed by his honesty, I listened intently to his story.
Josh continued.”It was the mission teams like your students here. They showed me this Jesus and his unconditional love. They smiled and talked and served and cleaned up. They prayed. Their love broke through my heart.”
“How long have you been off the street?” I asked.
My heart skipped a beat.
“Our student ministry served here in Philly that summer. Here in this very coffee house.”
“I was thinking actually that you look familiar. You probably served me.” Josh smiled and joy washed over his face.
Sometimes the Lord lifts the veil to allow us to see His work very specifically. I recognize that I will need to wait until heaven to truly comprehend all of His purposes and His works. But He occasionally allows me the privilege of seeing the fruit on this side of glory! This was one of those moments.
We never know the impact we have… one day, one week of showing love can truly save a life. It’s more than a short-term mission project… it’ a living classroom on splanchnizomai.