That’s the only phrase I can think of to describe the last few days. I have to tell you that every time a missions team rolls into town I pray for their lives to be changed, but the reality is my life is changed every time there is a group here. This week I am blessed to work with a youth group from Zanesville, Indiana, the minute this group stepped off the bus they were hit with culture shock and a WHOLE bunch of work, I don’t think they were expecting right away. But they took it in stride and god work done! I for one was impressed.
The first night they were here they got to experience Baltimore, we had literally hit the block to do a prayer walk and invite our neighbors to church on Sunday, and as soon as we crossed over one block, the police helicopter was out overhead and cruisers were all over the place. It turns out a criminal from another district took off running with handcuffs on, so they were trying to catch him. Welcome to Baltimore friends. In the end this all worked out because we actually got two police escorts for the rest of our walk, and they were actually engaged in what we were doing, its so refreshing to be in a police district where the officers seem to take an interest in what is happening within their community. It was so exciting to watch the students put aside there fears walk up to complete strangers in a completely unfamiliar place, and pray, place their hands inside the strangers and call out to God on their behalf, moments like this make my heart happy.
Sunday was an even more special day, we go to experience Street Church with Baltimore Street Church members, this is what church is about, stripping away everything and getting down to the nitty gritty. Street church is filled with homeless, addicts, prostitutes and the poor, it meets in the middle of an old abandon mall, and in my heart and eyes is the epitome of beautiful. As I looked around and saw my team holding hands in a prayer circle with our new friends, sitting next to someone they didn’t know and listening to their story, and learning the ‘Sinners Prayer’ song and dance with Ms. T, I knew that we were all in for a treat. I love having the opportunity to share my heart and passion with people, yesterday as I stood in the middle of Old Town mall, I almost cried as I watched the people that I love so much be loved on by 30 “strangers” who quickly became friends. In fact, I heard that when the bus pulled up our friends got SUPER excited!
When I didn’t think the day could get any better we headed over to what we call “Tent City” which is no longer tent city it’s just some homeless people living in a park next to a church. These homeless people are more than just homeless people they are friends, they know John and I and they allow us to come into their home and bring guests. We came with nothing more than Bibles and water, you see most other people who visit the park come with meals, clothing and gifts, but we came with very little other than ourselves and had an experience like none other. I watched Miss Candy tell her story to the girls about contracting HIV, I watched Ms. Dee-dee share her story about being homeless, a prostitute and running from the law and how God has redeemed her, I watched a group of students sit around a homeless man and hang on his every word and he shared his story, as you looked around the park all you saw were mini prayer circles, you saw students laying hands on what most would consider dirty and disgusting people. I am telling you these experiences change my life, I get to watch life transformations in people and it changes MY own life.
Finally, on Sunday we got to attend a Captivate City Night, we were meet at our East Baltimore location, it was a special night because two young people from the neighborhood were baptized. What made it even more special, was one of the team members that may have been questioning something about her relationship w/Christ, she was among 4 people who accepted the gift of Eternal Life last night, it was beautiful.
I tell you the more I look around the more I see lives changing in this group, in me, in the community, kids are lined up waiting outside to play, to come to camp to love us and for us to love them. Today we had our first day of summer camp 27 kids showed up, 27 kids were loved, 27 kids loved us back. It was probably in the 4 years I have been doing camp one of the BEST first days. I am so excited for what camp is going to be like tomorrow.
Finally we had one more life changing experience this evening, want to talk about bringing things home, even for the leaders of these wonderful students, tonight we took the team on a murder walk, we walked to five different murder sights within the city, sights that were researched and personal to us, sights were we could tell a story. While were standing at the sights we challenged the kids to think about what it is like to stand on the site were literally at some of the sights six months ago someone was murdered. We stood outside of a corner restaurant were a 15 yr old was shot and killsed in November, to hear the thoughts that were going through the teams head as they stood their and in other places throughout the evening was evident there was change.