|The 2010 Senior High Mission Team|
We were off to a good start on our first full day on the mission trip. After breakfast we had the president of the Nehemiah Mission give us a talk about the history of this church and how the East Ohio Conference turned this church into a mission site for people to come and make an impact on the city of Cleveland. He told the Nehemiah story and how it related to him and his staff as they have seen Cleveland fall apart and God has challenged them to rebuild the community and help restore hope. It is always awesome to here about someone’s passion that God has laid on their heart.
Then we headed off to Laura’s Home which is a ministry of the City Mission in Cleveland. It was awesome to go to the Laura’s Home. About 9 years ago I took my youth group in North East Ohio to this very building when it was bought by the City Mission. We helped to demolish the insides of the building so that they could begin making it into a mission for homeless and hurting women and children. So now fast forward several years and here is the mission in full swing with a large staff and a lot of ministry going on. Also, one of my students from my first youth group was a full time staff member helping to make an impact on the children who come through this mission. It was great to see Jaime and to see all that she was involved in at the mission. I was really excited to introduce her to the teens.
After that we split up the team into two groups and I took one of the groups to the City Mission site that was directly downtown. We were told that the City Mission is right on the 21st most dangerous intersection in America in the 7th most dangerous city. This site primarily took care of men. At the City Mission we met a guy named Bob who was a really nice guy that helped line us up with jobs around the mission site. We did a lot to make the outside look really nice: yard work, weeding, cleaning, taking care of dead plants, etc. During our lunch break Bob got two of the men at the mission to come and share their stories. It was very powerful for the teens. These men shared how they ended up here at the mission and what God has been doing in their lives to change them around. Their former life and their current life were seen in very stark contrasts. They both emphasized how they wish they could be young again and make the right choices instead of the path that they lived out. They let the teens know that that just one bad choice can forever alter their lives. They need to be smart, follow God, and make good choices. J.R. said that at 53 years old he is just now beginning to put his life back together. He has just about ruined all relationships with friends and family and is just now trying to rebuild relationships with his grown children that he neglected throughout their childhood. Toby told the teens that he has lived more than half of his life in prison because he stole millions of dollars. But even with all the wealth he acquired, he was never satisfied until he came to know God. He challenged the teens to stay focused and follow Jesus. He shared how someone in prison began witnessing to him and through that relationship he came to know Jesus. Now he would like to go back and minister to other guys in prison. After lunch we did some more work around the mission and then headed back over to Laura’s Home.
At Laura’s Home the other group did a lot of similar stuff taking care of the outside of the facility. Some of the boys got the privilege of playing Wii with some of the kids. I also got to see Jaime’s office and catch up with her a little bit.
We wrapped things up in the afternoon and came back to the Nehemiah Mission. We had a Chicken Parmesan dinner and then one of the other guys at the mission gave a devotion. He emphasized how we are bringing hope to the hopeless just like Jesus did in his ministry.
After that we headed off to Huntington Beach in Bay Village. We had a blast together swimming. It was a beautiful night. It was slightly cloudy so the sun would peek in and out of the clouds. You would see some amazing clouds lit up by the sun; the sun breaking though the clouds sending down beams of light onto the water; little pockets of rain out on the water. There was also a lot of wrestling, dunking and Marco Poloing going on. We had fun. We returned to the Nehemiah Mission and had our team meeting. The worship team lead us in music and then we talked about how we were impacted throughout the day. In the midst of doing odd jobs there were some interesting stories of interacting with people and hearing what God is doing in their lives. The teens are getting along great and having fun with each other. It is awesome to see how God is using them already to grow together.