Mission Denver 2011 – Update 4

Posted: June 24, 2011 in Mission Denver

“Pardon my French…but there are some bums out there.”

by Olivia Hill 

Good morning all! It’s Friday morning here in the Jackson street house. This afternoon, we begin the poverty simulation, so this is the last post we’ll have until it’s over on Sunday. However, we have plenty to get caught up on.

Wednesday night at the Bible Clubs, we were able to see God working in the lives of these kids. There were over double the kids there that were there the night before! Now that we knew what we were doing, it was much easier for us to get set up and scout the neighborhood. The drama team told the story of Abraham and Sarah and how God always keeps his promises. Points were being thrown left and right and at the end of the night, the green team was looking good at being able to throw a pie on the yellow team’s face the next night. Many of us just enjoyed playing on the park with the kids and talking to them. Ashlyn and Matt were able to share the Gospel with three girls, Mary, Daphne, and Iris. They went over Romans 6:23 and John 3:16, laying out the foundations of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a really exciting night , especially in that we were able to continue our relationships with the kids.

Early Thursday morning, we were woken up to go on a prayer walk through downtown Denver. At 12:30 am, we were given water bottles and granola bars to give to any homeless that we saw. We were actually able to find Jesse, one of the men we had met at the homeless forum two days before. He took us to his home around the corner. We prayed with him, gave him water, and he went on our way. Walking through the streets, we were introduced to brand new experiences. We were all filled with many different emotions as we saw the brokenness that was all around us. Shock, fear, outrage, depression, sadness, skepticism – we all felt it. We prayed with several, handed out water, and many of them were grateful for it. Near the end of the walk, we reached a place called “The Great Wall.” The Great Wall was where we saw the most brokenness of all. Dozens of people were lined up against a chain-link fence which Dave said was where they all hit up for the night. Several of us walked on the Great Wall side and the rest walked on the opposite side. Brianna was one of those who was on the Great Wall. She said that she wasn’t afraid until she saw someone being tased continually. Walking in groups, they were surrounded by people taking the water and granola from them. We eventually made it back to the vans for a very silent ride home. We were exhausted both mentally and physically, but many of us cried ourselves to sleep that night.

The next morning, during our devo time, we were finally able to talk about what we had seen and how it had affected us. One of the questions we had was “Do you think you pitied the homeless or identified with them?” Many of us thought that we pitied them rather than identified with them as we should have. We saw so much brokenness around us that it was shocking. In many ways, we didn’t know how to deal with it. For many of us, it was the first time we saw drunkenness and drugs in real life. We were able to talk about it more with Dave when we went over to Encompass. He encouraged us and spoke with us about how we would be able to identify and correctly fix the brokenness that we saw in our own community. It is this understanding that is what we hope to bring back to our Waterloo/Cedar Falls community.

After lunch, we were given the names and addresses of several organizations in the Denver area that helped people in the community find relief from their struggles in poverty and homelessness. We were able to meet with several organizations to learn about their mission statement, what their goals were, and how they achieved those goals. From free health clinics to lowered-rent apartment buildings, we were able to see the different organizations that helped alleviate the poverty that we saw last night. It was encouraging to see how much help was actually out there.

And now we only had one more thing on our agenda: the last night of Bible Clubs. At 5pm, we invited families from around the neighborhood for a cookout. Some of us were able to meet the parents of the kids whom we had learned to love very much over the past two days. However, our usual game area had been taken over by dozens of teenage boys playing kickball. We decided to approach them and ask if they wanted to eat with us. We found out that they were actually from three different group homes for boys that had been in trouble with the law and were either orphans or weren’t allowed back home. Dave brought over some hot dogs and the drama team was able to perform the Lifehouse skit we did at the banquet for the kids, parents, neighbors, and all those teenage boys. Dustin got up afterwards to explain what the skit meant. Many, if not all of them, were riveted by both the skit and the explanation. We had hoped we would be able to perform the skit, but didn’t know where it would fit in. But God had plans for those boys to be on the field and for us to share the Gospel message with them.

The regular Bible Clubs were well attended like the previous night and many of the parents stuck around to see what we were all about. Parents and kids alike took home Bibles we handed out. Aaron even led three kids to the Lord yesterday. You can imagine the grin on his face! Our last skit covered Joshua and the battle of Jericho. The kids answered questions about it, earning more points for their team. When all the points were totaled up, the green team (with leaders Erin and Ben) were able to put pies in the faces of

Ben trying to smuggle things into the poverty simulation.

the yellow teams leaders (Shantel and Aaron, see the video below). The kids were extremely excited for it! We played for a while longer on the soccer field and the playground. When it was time to go, we hugged the kids and drove off. Logan later said that one kid told him, “Tomorrow when I see you, I’ll bring my puppy!” It broke all of our hearts.

During the debrief, Rachel told us of how she was able to give a girl named Dulce a Bible. However, it started to rain during the clubs…while it was sunny. (Oh, Colorado weather.) Rachel saw how she protected that Bible from the rain as if her life depended on it. Matt was also had a chance to talk to a little boy about his own Bible. He said he had once had a Bible, but that his older brother had taken it from him. Matt found out that his older brother was part of the Crypts gang and took his Bible to burn it in the name of Satan. Many of these kids have already gone through more than we had seen in our lifetimes. And I can promise that we will never forget any of them.

This morning, we’re preparing to participate in the poverty simulation. We still don’t know what to expect, but we trust that it’s all in God’s hands. Thanks for all the support and prayers! See you all on Sunday!

Check out these two videos:

  1. jennyjoline says:

    Wow! I loved this post. It made me smile (Ben, you’re crazy – and hilarious!) & tear up (I’m sure it was hard to see some of the things you all saw in downtown Denver in the middle of the night). And to hear how the Gospel was shared & the response to the Lifehouse skit is amazing! I’m so proud of you all – look at how God is using each of you! I’m praying a lot for each of you today through Sunday during the Poverty Simulation. I hope Ben can survive without his Catch-Phrase game & anti-bacterial hand wash! See you soon!

  2. lori says:

    …brokenness. “Simulation” is nothing but shallow education puffed up with pride… just sayin’. You might consider saving resources and simply go out at night in your own community. Did you let them wash YOUR dirty feet? Did you go empty handed and allow them to minister to YOUR needs? Or did you confirm they were filthy sinners in need of your water and granola bar…. hmmm. ALL sinners are created in God’s image and have an innate desire to do for others… the day you KNOW you’re in the same boat with them, you might give them the opportunity to KNOW they’re no worse off than you… they’re part of the same warped society you belong to, you’re just on the other side of the fence… big woop.

  3. Sandy and David says:

    Good to see you all still having lots of smiles, at least on Thursday. We have been praying for you especially over these past 48 hours as you have gone through the poverty simulation. Also pray that you will have a special day of worship today as you gather together with other believers. Looking forward to having you home soon.

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