Monday, July 1, 2013

God Squad 2013- Cross Cultural Mission Experiences

In June, the God Squad partnership became real as five students and 12 adults from Olivet United Methodist Church participated with over 120 others in a cross-cultural mission experience in Washington DC. The “rural United Methodist youth” of Lusby, Maryland packed their bags to live and serve in the urban neighborhood of northeast Washington, DC. The adults of Olivet church visited them for a fellowship meal with McKendree-Simms-Brookland UM Church (MSBUMC) and took a tour on the Old Town Trolley together.  Uncertain of what it would be like in a busy, crowded city everyone was set at ease by the hospitality of the people at MSBUMC. The students of Olivet discovered first hand how a church can be an outpouring of Christ’s love. Then they became a part of the sharing of Christ’s love as they came together for combined mission called “Hip Hop Hope.”

The youth from three churches worked together in ministry reaching out into the community with a gospel message for all ages with service projects, music and multi-media.  MSBUMC, Olivet and Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church in Chicago gathered daily for breakfast and hip-hop worship before going to their service projects. This became a great time for them to play and talk with each other and the younger pre-k and elementary children. The Olivet girls all took quickly to a nine-year old boy from the neighborhood that loved to dance. On the first day, he grabbed their hands to dance with them. This broke the ice and got them all laughing. On the last day, there were tears as they said goodbye to each other. The Olivet girls each remarked that they liked getting to work with the children, they made sure the children had enough breakfast, which was part of the neighborhood outreach, and helped them with their Bible lessons. All the students worked on a variety of service projects which included serving as teaching assistants, table clean up, urban gardening, and creating faith-based messages using a variety of social media. 

Mr. Mason of MSBUMC led the many teens and young adults in the gardening project. Thanks to the local Home Depot, we had many plants and flowers donated. The beautification project transformed ta barren area along Rhode Island Ave. NE into a flower garden.

I enjoyed teaching students how to express their faith using multi-media tools. Videos and photo montages were created by over 30 different kids throughout the week. Many can be seen on the facebook page for either MSBUMC or Olivet. Each student was challenged to create public messages of hope, love and salvation through artist expression and capture it on camera. By posting the videos on the church Facebook page, parents, parishioners, and friends could peak in on their mission week and comment on the ministry. This became a source of encouragement for the kids who saw the “likes” and the thumbs up. Collaboration and learning was multi-directional because once a student discovered how to do something on the computer, I would encourage them to show others which fostered an environment of sharing and collaboration.

Reverend David Hall, the pastor McKendree-Simms-Brookland UM Church says that through of the inspiration of the God Squad Grant, a new computer lab was brought to completion at his church. Our mission week laid the foundation for a creative, multi-media afterschool ministry where kids can create and teach one another. His next goal is to have a recording studio at the church for even more creative expression of faith by young people!

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