Many from Grace Church had the opportunity to serve at Urban Hope in Philadelphia recently. Our SALT team spent a Saturday there serving at Urban Hope’s street carnival. Another group visited on Sunday, serving with Urban Hope’s children’s church, Kingdom Kids. And, Jeremiah Kleylein (our Director of Student Ministries) had a group of students there all weekend. Urban Hope is a church, but is also a ministry that prioritizes exposing people (like us) to cross-cultural ministry and training us to be “on mission” in our own community. Because of this, teams from Grace Church always come home different – motivated and equipped to be a bolder witness for Jesus in their daily lives. Read some of their testimonies below.
“I stepped out of my comfort zone and spoke to “Michael” about Christ. Although he wasn’t ready to make a decision, he seemed sincere that he needed to get his life right with God. During my conversation, I learned he was an ex-drug dealer who had been to prison multiple times. At age 52, he knows his life needs to change. At the end of our conversation, he allowed me to pray with him.”
“It was awesome! I loved seeing who we have prayed for and meeting new people that I have started praying for. What a reminder of different styles of praise and worship. It was very exciting to see what God is doing in the lives of people. I can’t wait to go again; I was sharing my experience with everyone at work and my boss said she would like to go next time (she isn’t even a follower of Christ)! I loved seeing Ed loving on his people and them loving on him in return. The fellowship was great, and I pray we have double the people next time. Believe me, you won’t come back the same!”
“I got to speak with two women from the community. One of them is a Christian that attends Urban Hope but is struggling in several ways – I got the change to listen to her, encourage her, and then pray with her. Another woman I met was “Roberta” – Easter Sunday was her first time attending Urban Hope. She was really enjoying the block party and enjoyed telling me a little bit about herself. Together we looked at the information in her bag, and I encouraged her to come back again on Sunday.”
“While we were spending the weekend at Urban Hope, it was put into perspective for me how numb we are to Christ. Ashley and Amber were in charge of the Carnival and helped us with everything we had to do. Every time one of them would ask someone in our group to do something, they did it with no questions asked. I started thinking about how everyone in our group was so ready to serve there and be obedient to these girls, but how often we ignore what Christ is telling us. Christ is constantly calling us to serve in different areas of our lives, but so often we neglect to do so.” -student in leadership group
“We were impressed at how well the Block Party was planned and organized. Things seemed to run very smoothly. It was especially fun to watch the excitement of the children with all the activities and food – their faces were priceless. It was also neat that all the group leaders were people that attend Urban Hope and live in the community – it was fun to get to meet them and work alongside them. Our leader stopped and prayed with us before we left. There were also many other people from Urban Hope serving. (Fun fact: the registration table group leaders actually starting attending Urban Hope and got saved because of a Block Party several years ago.) It’s funny how when you give of yourself, you gain so much back in return. Although extremely exhausted, we felt happiness and contentment. We would go do it all over again in a heartbeat. As we were leaving at the very end of the day, a little girl came up skipping up to us and in a sing-songy voice said “thanks for the party”! Such a cool way to leave Kensington. We hope and pray that many lives were touched through this event.”
Are you developing your skills in being “on mission”? Do you need to stretch yourself? Is the next step for you exposure to a cross-cultural ministry? Or to an opportunity to be trained and equipped? Grace Church will continue to send groups to Urban Hope, so stay tuned for future opportunities!