Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Team Report After Brooklyn

Our team has been home in L.A. for almost two days now. I'm still processing what happened in Brooklyn, New York, so this posting will just skim over the highlights.

When we arrived in Brooklyn on July 27th we had to find the church that we would be serving/sleeping in. The walk from the subway station to 2nd Evangelical Free Church of Brooklyn was really cool. The neighborhood is mostly inhabited by Chinese immigrants, so the streets are filled with markets and people. Already we had entered a great environment for our team to be introduced to a culture many of us had never experienced before.

2nd EV Free of Brooklyn was very much like our own church in LA. The church serves mostly immigrant families. They have a sort of community house next door that houses much of their staff much like our Nehemiah House. Most of our time was spent in their S.A.Y. Yes! tutoring program which we also run in Pico Union. These similarities allowed our team to fit the needs of the church very quickly. I was very impressed with our youth who jumped right in with the kids and poured so much of their energy and love into them. Along with a visiting team from Two Rivers Church in Tennessee we spent five days with kids from pre-K up to 5th grade. We tutored them in math. We colored with our kids, and sang worship songs with them. There were geography lessons, and trips to the park. On Thursday we took the kids on a field trip to a Biblical Art Museum and to Central Park. Once 1 o'clock hit we ran a Vacation Bible School for them and performed skits and Bible lessons. By the time Friday came around we had to say good bye to these precious kids. Our youth cried that night already missing the children we became friends with. Many on our youth team told us how good it was to be in our shoes at a S.A.Y. Yes! and experience how much we loved them. By the end of the week I asked if any of them felt more confident in being a part of ministry in our church now that they've completed this trip, and they all raised their hands. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for our young leaders to go through.

Our nights in Brooklyn were packed with taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of our surroundings. Remember that many of our youth have never been outside of California so this was incredibly beneficial to them. Above you see some of us eating at a traditional Chinese restaurant. The food was great, but very different from the Latin and American food that we are used to.

We also took the team to see the sites. On Sunday we took the ferry past the Statue Of Liberty. On a free night we walked around Times Square. We also saw the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, but the most memorable site out of all of them was ground zero. We all had different emotions running through us as we prayed for our world over the site of one of our generations greatest tragedies. It seemed appropriate to pray with younger people in hopes that times will be better for them and their kids.

Over all this trip was about God showing us what kind of leaders we are as individuals and as a team. It seems to me that short term missions is not as much about teaching the people you visit as it is about what you learn and bring home with you. Pray with me that our youth will realize their role in God's body. Pray for our staff to be able to encourage and challenge them to commit to their roles and minister now rather than waiting for some undefined moment when they'll feel as though they are old enough to do something about the gospel.

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