It’s tough to recount all of the wonderful, joyful, exhausting and meaningful moments that occurred during City Week (#cityweekfw), our fantastic week of service at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County.
As I look back on it, and try to tell you about this week of hard work, I can easily tick off many things:
- sweating in a warehouse
- cooking and serving over 1000 meals
- teens giggling in rental vans on the drive down to Union Gospel Mission
- kind smiles from the adults working with the teens
- lots of give and take from our young people and adults
- the overwhelming encouragement from the guests who are finding a bit of refuge at UGM, a temporary home for a while.
These are the sort of memories that all who worked in City Week will have of our local service and mission trip.
This kind of service is what I think Jesus had in mind when he broke bread with his followers and encouraged them to remember him, and live lives that reflect love, compassion and sacrifice. When Jesus lifted up a cup of wine, this symbolic gesture; he had the disciples attention. Today, we are called to that same awareness: to come alive to our true selves, embodying Christ with in our daily lives. We are challenged to come together, much stronger with a common purpose to love those who are forgotten; those who feel they have slipped through the cracks, those that find themselves becoming more invisible each day in a busy world that glorifies a “me first” mentality. We also find that while volunteering at City Week, our own problems seem to melt away. Things that bothered us, anxieties, anger, frustration… these feelings are all replaced with new courage and resolve to try again, realizing that we do not walk alone. We carry on with the support of other Christians, eager to draw closer to Jesus.
What makes City Week important to St. Martin’s is the community that is created in a few short days. Our community began to form, with our teens and adults finding common threads with those they served. Teens and adults were asked questions like, “where are you from?” or “are you here all week?” or even “will you pray for me?” These small interactions told our group that we are really all in this life and world together.
Our group led chapel for folks coming in from the streets, seeking a cool place to rest for a bit. Teens played instruments, sang songs and were delighted when the guests sang along, clapped their hands and offered encouraging words between the performances.
A young man in a wheelchair rolled up to our teens after the chapel service and thanked them for their gift of music. He encouraged our teens to stay in band, practice hard and never give up. This man also shared his fond experiences of being in band as a young person. His kind words truly made an impact with our young people that day. The next day, he lit up when he saw our group again, and we were very happy to see our friend too. Touchpoints like these helped us connect with those we served.
At City Week, I saw the church as I believe Jesus envisioned it to be; not a place or a building, but a living, breathing, giving, work of love. I hope that you will continue to pray for the people who find Jesus at Union Gospel Mission and those who seek to be transformed by service. The volunteers and amazing staff are doing God’s work each day at UGM. We were blessed to be invited to be a part of it. Consider how God may be calling you to service, working together to become the body of Christ.
Please enjoy these pics from our flickr gallery or click below: