My mom and I found out about the organization Church on the Street from a member of our church who had done mission work in Atlanta recently. He began planning an all church mission trip to work with Church on the Street and the homeless of Atlanta. I was excited and nervous to be going on this mission trip. Georgia is a long way from Indiana and the thought of hanging out with the inner city homeless for a week was overwhelming. Nonetheless, on June 17 my mom and I were up until midnight packing. We got up at 5:30 Monday morning so that we could leave the church by 7:00.
The van ride was long, but fun as all of the youth and youth leaders were piled into one 15 passenger van. We arrived in Atlanta at 7:30. Our motel was nice and comfortable. We had AC, a refrigerator, nice beds, and a clean shower. That evening we met with the pastor of Church on the Street, Andy, and his interns. They gave us some ground rules for the week and attempted to prepare us for what they had planned. Our group went into this mission trip thinking we would be spending most of every day out in parks or anywhere around town spending time getting to know people who were homeless, building relationships and learning from them. The staff of Church on the Street went into this week thinking that we had never thought about the homeless or the poor as human and broken people.
We ate breakfast every morning at St. Paul’s church where Church on the Street is based. They serve breakfast to anyone who comes and we were able to talk to people during that time. It was cool to see our group fit in and easily begin building relationships. There were regulars who we saw every morning and could greet them by name. The first day we climbed Stone Mountain and that evening we spent an hour walking around Atlanta. We went to two parks before finding one with people to talk. I enjoyed it a lot. The rest of the week we joined St. Paul’s in Bible study, service time, and lunch. In the late afternoons we got to spend time in the community. Then we would debrief and go to bed.
The trip was definitely not what any of us expected, but one major thing we were reminded of was “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 13:17. I think our group, as well as Church on the Street, needed to remember that we learn from each other.
On Friday night we planned to leave for Chattanooga. One of our vans broke down- it needed a new alternator. Our senior pastor and another paid staff stayed with that van in Atlanta to get it fixed. They were able to join us in Chattanooga Saturday afternoon. On Saturday our group went to the Blue Hole in Soddy Daisy. There is this large rock and across from that a spot on a cliff for jumping. I was crazy enough to jump off the cliff with two of my friends. It was terrifying, but great. I’ve been there twice now and I can’t wait to go back next year. On Sunday we went to the Bridge church. Our church is closely connected to the building of this new church and we are proud to support David Sternberg, the pastor. After the service we headed out. The trip had exhausted us and we were ready to go home.
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