On Thursday, June 11, St. Martin’s was joined by youth and sponsors from the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Midland, Texas for a day of service at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County (UGM). Teens and adults served side by side, preparing and cooking food for residents, serving lunch and cleaning up afterward. There were opportunities to also serve in the distribution warehouse, where donations are sorted, folded or hung up. The warehouse is a place where residents can shop for much-needed clothing and household supplies and even books. Our teens and adults also worked on organizing a children’s recreation areas and a children’s library.
One hundred two homeless people who lined the street were invited to come inside UGM with the promise of a cool place to rest and a chance to hear God’s Word with lots of encouragement from a speaker. Our teens and adults were invited into the chapel service. The message was hopeful and full of God’s boundless love.
After chapel, many adults entered the lunch room and found a place to sit at tables with fresh flowers from the UGM garden. Members of our team carried individual lunch trays to each person seated and waiting for a meal. Lezlee Kinney pointed out later that homeless people rarely get the chance to have a meal brought to them, similar to a restaurant experience. This simple act of serving someone is an extra layer of kindness to those who are used to waiting in line or not knowing where their next meal may come.
One woman who was volunteering in the kitchen told a story to one of our team about her journey from homelessness to independent living. In her gratitude, she had returned to serve other homeless people by giving her time to help cook and serve meals.
There was much joy, laughter, happiness and a few tears during this day of service at Union Gospel Mission. What started out as two separate youth groups became one big group of people, united in mission to serve God by serving those who are often forgotten and who often go hungry.
UGM’s Volunteer Coordinator Lezlee Kinney offered a conference room for our group to take an afternoon break and pray and contemplate the day. Ms. Kinney asked our group to make inspirational cards that would be placed on residents’ pillows to offer encouragement. Our church group left tired, but full of God’s love, and many of us are looking forward to returning in July for a week of mission work.
What began as a day of uncertainty resulted in a day where youth and adults were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Teens found that no job was off limits or required special training and understood they could serve just as well as adults. Adults found joy in service and serving as mentors to youth. It was a great day that made a difference in the lives of those served and those reaching out to be the heart, hands and feet of Christ.
These pictures above from our day of service are in this Flickr photo album. Read how to download full-resolution photos from Flickr.