This past Spring Break, the BelPres Middle School and High School Departments sent a team of 10 people on a mission trip to Denver, Colorado, where we partnered with Center for Student Missions (CSM), an organization that facilitates urban missions and service experiences for various church groups.
As they guided us throughout the week, CSM was a mission tour guide of sorts for us—helping our group get to know the city of Denver and walk alongside its people. Even more, CSM helped us see the unique issues and problems in the city and allowed us to see firsthand what God is doing to foster and further His Kingdom in the city of Denver.
CSM’s theme for the year was “Interruptions: Abandon Expectations” and this couldn’t have been a more appropriate theme for our group. Our week was filled with constant interruptions. These interruptions challenged our group to truly abandon expectations and forced us to rely on one another and our faith in God.
One of these interruptions came while our group was participating in a task called “Meet a Need,” where we were challenged to walk down a busy street in Denver, find a stranger in need, and see if we could meet any of their physical or spiritual needs. About an hour into it, our team happened to run into a group of homeless men outside of a Burger King. We spent some time getting to know them, listening to their stories, hearing how they ended up in Denver, and, of course, asking how we could meet their needs. While we eventually purchased some food off the dollar menu for these men, the most powerful moment was when we prayed together as a group. These men really poured out their hearts during this time as they shared their faith in God.
It was evident that the Holy Spirit was on the move in this moment and our students were deeply touched by this experience as well. One student, Angela Lin, a high school freshman at Seattle Prep, said of this particular experience and the trip overall:
“We have so many preconceptions and misconceptions of homeless people. We see them as those who are unable to support themselves. We seem them as those who are weak. However, it is through this experience of connecting and reaching out to them that I truly experienced the meaning of resilience. The homeless on the streets of Denver are some of the strongest people I’ve met. They’re strong because of the physical pain and obstacles they’ve endured. They’re strong because they survived abandonment and abuse. Most of all, they’re strong because of their faith in God. When we prayed with a group of homeless men on the streets, one man said, ‘I walked away from you, God, but You were by my side the entire time.’ I realized how true that is for all of us. After this extremely rewarding experience in Denver, I now have a deeper understanding of the world around us, and a deeper faith in God.”
Angela’s words were true for just about all of us. As we heard their stories, we not only began to see homeless people as part of God’s kingdom family, but we were challenged and encouraged by their great faith as well.