Back to School
Yesterday evening, Urban Hope Community Church was give the opportunity to reach out to parents, students, and staff of William Cramp Elementary School in a whole new way. In the past, we have stood outside the building passing out flyers for carnivals or Kingdom Kids. We have been inside the library painting as an act of service to the school. However, never in the past have we been given the opportunity to talk about what God is doing at Urban Hope within the school walls. Yesterday, at Cramp Elementary's Back to School Night, we set up a table in the middle of the gymnasium along with many other community development organizations and student assistance organizations.
We specifically prayed that students, parents, and staff would see a difference in us in that Community Partner Fair last night. As soon as the doors opened, people were flocking to our table. At first, I thought it was because of the candy, prizes, videos, and fun colors at our table. But then, I stepped back to watch. Sure, kids were coming for the prizes and candy, but even before they saw the candy, they saw familiar faces that they recognized from the neighborhood. They saw teens from our neighborhood, Kevin, Ralph, Shalia, and Chasily, who most of them remember from Day Camps or carnivals. They were running up to us, giving us hugs and introducing us to their moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas.
Parents were also willingly lining up to sign their kids up for Kingdom Kids and Rock. They were staying around to listen as we explained about our church service and family groups. The most amazing part, I believe, was that they were hearing all of that information from young people who have been born and raised in this community, who would otherwise be on the streets or living the life of the neighborhood. But yesterday, parents at that Community Fair, were talking to teenagers changed by Jesus who were encouraging them to pursue a relationship with God, as well.
To me, the moment I knew that the difference of Jesus was being displayed at our table, was when other community partners at different information tables began approaching us and asking us about our ministry. Their interest was peaked by the young people they saw at our table who have been changed by Jesus. They were all amazed by how we live and serve in this community because almost all of them live outside of the community and come to help during the day. One community partner approached me and said, "Keep up what you are doing. You are right in the trenches of this neighborhood, and you have been for a long time. What you are doing for these young people is working."
Every organization in that gym had a common goal--to help the community and see kids succeed. Every organization in that room recognized that the people of this community are hurting and in need of help. Every organization came with an action plan to solve part of the problem. However, we were the only organization represented who had the answer--Jesus.