Back Student Summer Recap, Part 4: Chicago Mission Journey
August 24th, 2011
For many Brentwood Baptist students, summer isn't just a time to unplug from the world and wait for a new school year. It's a time to go, serve, and build community. Every summer, the Student Ministry offers students a chance to participate in missions, discipleship, and leadership opportunities through four major events. Below is the last of a four-part recap of the incredible things that happened among our students this summer:
For the past seven years, Brentwood Baptist has had a close friendship and partnership with Jamie Thompson, pastor of Reborn Community Church in Chicago, Illinois, supporting him and sending teams to minister to his community. And it all started with our students.
This year, we continued the tradition. From July 16-22, 94 high school students and 23 adults entered the Windy City to mark their eighth visit to Garfield Park in Chicago, working hand-in-hand with Reborn Community Church.
What started in 2004 as a handful of people meeting in Pastor Jamie's living room has now grown to a congregation of 60-70 members who meet each week in an old 2-story firehouse on one of the busiest, and most dangerous, corners in the area.
Amy-Jo Girardier, Brentwood Baptist Girls Minister and Student Missions Coordinator, said, "That corner is the center, the hub, or almost all activity in that area. More than 83 neighborhoods make up Chicago. Each of them have different ethnic groups living in them. Garfield Park is primarily African American. And, like so many of the other communities, its one that's very broken and doesn't have a lot of hope spoken into it."
Victoria McKee, a Brentwood Baptist summer intern, said, "Many people on the L-train would ask us where we were headed or what we were doing in Chicago. We would say, 'We're helping out in the Garfield Park area for a local church . . . and telling others about the Lord.' Many would respond, 'You know that's a bad part of town, right?' or 'Why would you go there? It's a scary place.' Hearing people say that, I knew we were going to the right place. The Lord loves everyone. Even in the darkest area, a light needs to be planted and that's why we go."
Throughout the weeklong mission journey, the students broke up into teams, rotating between hosting Vacation Bible School, throwing a block party, repairing the church building, and participating in service evangelism such as passing out lemonade and flyers about Reborn.
Josh Shelley, a Brentwood Baptist summer intern who was on the trip, said, "One of the coolest stories that came out of watching God at work in these students was seeing them worship at nights and in the morning, and then watching them serve during the day. It was incredible to see them place Christ in the center of their lives—both in worship and service."
"Going to the park and spending time with the kids was a blast," Victoria said, "but it also broke our hearts. We'd leave and many of the kids would start crying because they didn't want us to. We didn't know what the rest of their days would be like or what they'd be doing or what would happen to them. But while they were at the park, we made sure they had fun. I know the Lord worked after we left in ways I couldn't even see."
Already Reborn Community Church has established a solid presence in the community since it began. And because of Brentwood Baptist's annual support and partnership, we're continuing to build relationships with the people in that community as well.
"The trip wasn't for us," said Victoria. "It was for the people in Garfield Park to know that someone loves them—and His name is Jesus."
Story by Kaylan Christopher, Staff Writer
Read the story about Jamie Thompson, Reborn Community Church, and how they're ministering to a broken community every day.