Carnival of Hope 2016
Last Saturday from 12 to 4 Urban Hope shut down Tioga--from Ella to A--and Ella Street--from Venango and Ontario--and replaced the street traffic with carnival games, face-painting tables, lick-n-stick tattoo parlors, a photo booth, bouncy castles, a basketball court, informational tables, free cotton candy and hot dog stands, a stage, loud speakers, some banners and a swarm of volunteers from Urban Hope, Grace Church Norton, Berachah Church, Echo Valley Grace Brethren, Camp Conquest in bright green shirts eager to tell others about the God's Saving Grace.
The status of the 2016 Carnival of Hope?
On stage the main stage D Trex--a dance crew from Liberty University--got lit to the rhythms of popular Christian Hip Hop artists, we played Minute to Win It games with the adults and daring challenge games with the kiddos. A towering stack of gift cards and 4 Kindle Fires were raffled away, toys and bikes were won and 1 of 3 finalists won in an audience-polled singing competition. Down at the courts, teams faced off in a 3 on 3 basketball tourney and individuals shot buckets in a 3 point competition all for trophies and prizes. Orlando, Rocky, Kevin--with a spoken word performance--and Omar, all men who grew up in our West Kensington neighborhood, proclaimed God's glory by sharing their incredible stories of Salvation.
I stood on the main stage humbled. Never did I foresee myself standing in the middle of West Kensington, Philadelphia, emceeing an urban outreach block party while my wife, Amber, ran around capturing footage of cute kids and their parents with a camera. And I can't help but wonder if many of the other volunteers--that the Lord used so mightily last weekend--were thinking along the the same lines.
For four incredible hours, God gave us the opportunity to show our community His Unconditional Love with every face painted, every photo taken, every video recorded, every hot dog handed, every cotton candy spun, every goldfish won, every fake tattoo given, every game played, every song sang, every dance danced, every prize presented, every hand shaken, every conversation spoken and every story shared.
And the Holy Spirit moved. Seven people made first time decisions to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.