This summer I had the opportunity of going on a summer mission trip to an inner-city soup kitchen. I never knew I could learn so much in one week! We worked at a place called the Marie Sandvik Centre, located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota – in a part called Philip’s Neighbourhood.
It was definitely on the rough side of town, with many different language groups including people without homes, with drug problems, and with family members in jail. Most of the children came from families with no discipline or no one to love them. Our job was helping the staff and showing the love of Christ to the kids. For some of these the centre was the only place to get a healthy meal.
To help proclaim the gospel we used bracelets that showed the colours of The wordless book. The kids literally begged for a bracelet, but we told them they needed to hear the story behind it first!
One night we laid on a community block party, serving a full meal to a lot of people! It was a great time to share the gospel with many more people. Every day at the centre, we helped with two Kids Clubs (ages 5-15). We got on the buses to pick up the children at their houses. Chapel was a time to sing songs; then we broke into different age groups and went to lesson time.
During the lessons, they heard a Bible story and about the Lord Jesus. After that, we played on the playground, did art projects, or played inside games. Keeping the kids in line was a huge deal! Because they don’t have much discipline at home, they were some crazy ones.
They all seemed to have an endless supply of energy. Between chasing them around the playground and getting them to sit still during the lesson, it was extremely tiring.
I learned so much. I can’t wait to go back again to see all the staff and kids. It’s a lot of work. You are always moving, holding a kid from running away, making food, cleaning floors, or doing dishes. It was great meeting and working with the staff there.
You don’t get much sleep! But you keep going, even if you can barely keep your eyes open. During the trip I got some chemicals in my eyes and for most of the time had an intense stinging pain in them. But by God’s grace, I made it through the week.
I grew close to many of the children very quickly. All are so cute; you just have to love them! Every day we would meet together several times a day just to spend time in prayer praying for them, their homes and the work done at the centre.
I had the opportunity to see things I’ve never seen or experienced before, such as poverty and broken homes. It makes me even more grateful for the Christian home and church I have grown up in.
But even though there is a great need at the Marie Sandvik Centre, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our neighbours need the gospel too. No matter where you are – in Minneapolis or across the sea – every one needs the gospel. We are not only to take care of temporary needs, but of the eternal. Jesus Christ said to his disciples: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15).