Outreach to Englewood
The High School Justice & Compassion Englewood Trip served with evangelist Daniel Bair at Urban Youth and Family Outreach June 17-21.
These are reflections on the trip on how God was at work.
At Urban Youth & Family Outreach on the south side of Chicago one of our highlights is the many teams that come to learn and do ministry alongside us. While these teams bring with them a much longer work week for our staff, when they leave, though physically exhausted, we are spiritually reinvigorated. We spend many hours training our teams in how to more effectively help those in need while marrying the Gospel to those efforts.
We have enjoyed hosting many College Church teams over the years. This past HYACKS Justice and Compassion trip was no exception. We were encouraged by the joy and energy they brought as they loved on or neighbors through Bible stories, games, crafts, and so much more. The joy was tempered midweek by a funeral our staff members had to attend for a young man from our community, but the team was encouraging and flexible during this time. Their highlights are our highlights. Thanks for allowing them to serve alongside us and sending them in a manner worthy of their service.
— Daniel Bair, Host and Sponsored Evangelist
Each day we were in Englewood, our team went on walks through the community to pray with people. On these walks, I met a surprising number of people who were willing to pray with us, despite the fact that they were not Christians. Not only did they agree to pray, but many immediately had specific prayer requests for their families or the community. In Wheaton I think many people, including Christians, would feel uncomfortable or consider themselves too busy to pray with strangers and probably struggle to think of a way they need prayer. God was and is at work in Englewood, opening the hearts of non-Christians to be willing to pray.
— Meredith Taylor
I think I saw him most in showing me the truth behind poverty and how it’s not as much of a need situation but how we interact with others and ourselves and the choices we make. But I also saw him at work when even though there were not many people that accepted our prayers (on the prayer walks), the people that did, did it joyously and it was good to see that they recognized what we were doing. Also I think the testimonies were really powerful especially how we could see that God can bring us out of the darkest situations that we may not believe we can get out of.
— Sam Carlson
Although there were not many people on our prayer walks, seeing and learning about the neighborhood was eye opening to the struggles that we don’t face in Wheaton. Hearing the testimony of a former homeless man and God’s persistent love in his life was incredible and encouraging to see that God’s grace reaches even the toughest areas and seemingly impossibly hardened hearts.
It was great to see team members building relationships with the kids and truly enjoying doing God’s work with the ministry. While we didn’t all know each other very well before the trip, everyone enjoyed each other’s company and working alongside one another. God placed people on this team who were happy to step up whenever needed and who could show His love to the neighborhood.
— Joanna Larson
Having been to Englewood a few times already, I wasn’t really expecting to learn anything new on this trip. I knew that God would work through the team and in us, I just thought I pretty much had Englewood figured out. However, this time I was discouraged in ways I hadn’t been before, and encouraged in different ways than I have previously experienced. Everyday the team would split up into smaller groups to walk around the neighborhood and pray. When we asked people to pray with us, our group was rejected by more people than I am used to from past experiences, and to be honest it was disheartening. Yet God used that to remind me that we don’t walk around Englewood and pray for approval from others, or to feel good about ourselves, but rather to depend on our Father, and because we know that only through Him will Daniel’s ministry have any fruit in the community of Englewood; prayer is powerful because God is all-powerful and he uses our prayer to do his will – in Englewood and everywhere.
— Eleanor Kearley, college intern
During our trip in Englewood, one of my responsibilities, with a small group of other students, was to lead music with the kids who came to the ministry. On the first day, we had two songs picked out: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and “Hallelu Hallelu.” When it was time, our two guitarists came out (without chairs) followed by two singers — including me. The kids had already been gathered in one area but there were a lot of them, and they were antsy. The guitarists, having nowhere to sit, stepped about ten yards away from the kids to lean awkwardly against the wall, and I stood about halfway between the kids and the guitars. I could barely hear what they were playing, so I was sure the kids could not. After the first verse of the first song, with half-hearted hand motions, there was some discrepancy over the words to the second verse, so half of the people leading music just repeated the first verse again. Nobody knew who to follow, but that hardly made a difference, since nobody was singing anyway. The second song was no better. By the end, I was completely flustered, practically running inside to take a deep breath and pray for a better day tomorrow. The kids had never seemed more eager to get back to playing.
The next day, we decided to do the same two songs in hopes that the kids would be more willing to sing along if they recognized them. As we started to gather the kids, I realized that it was much quieter than the previous day had been. Miraculously, there were no adults loudly playing competitive basketball. There was no explanation for it — it was a nicer day than before, and nothing else had changed. Of course, the quieter atmosphere was simply God’s gift to us, to make it a little easier to sing together and a little easier to keep the kids engaged.
This time, we brought out chairs for the guitarists so they could sit close enough to the children for everyone to hear what they were playing. Everyone did the hand motions, and we took suggestions of different animals that God has in His hands for about seven verses. The second song, too, ended with everyone singing loudly and praising God with smiles on their faces. It was about a hundred times more successful than our last attempt. What a wonderful blessing it was to worship the God who truly holds the whole world — including our little VBS — in his hands!
— Allison Taylor