Christ at Work

When asked where I see Christ working in the lives of people, my first thought was of the Sunday School children singing the Christmas Carols, with each group belting out the songs in both English and a foreign language during the Children’s Service. Their bright eyes and smiles permeated through out the congre­gation. It was as if their innocence broke down the gap between the gener­ations and for that moment a true feeling of Christ’s message filled the hearts of all.

The other time I saw the imprint of God’s love and under­standing was during the times I chaperoned groups of confir­mation students as we attended the Urban Immersion Program inMin­neapolis. Pastor Kristin asked me to assist her in this task either out of desperation or thinking I looked mean enough that the kids would not dare cross the line of civility.

For those who don’t know, the Urban Immersion Program gathers students from various churches throughout theMid­westand informs them of the plight of people who are those less fortunate and the programs available to them. They become aware of the multitude of people who are jobless, homeless, malnourished, abused, unable to seek help for medical or psycho­logical problems. They also become aware that there are these problem in every city in theUnited States– even kids with whom they go to school.

After the infor­mation portion of the program, the students had oppor­tu­nities to learn about the agencies and spend several hours at each site working. Much of the work was mundane, but when it was put into perspective, it was a chance for them to provide assistance in cutting costs while perpet­uating the goals of the organi­zations. To teenagers, the ego, the self esteem, their image and their acceptance by others are the centers of their lives. However as if by magic these were the last of their concerns when they began working. Once they knew what they had to accomplish and their purpose the kids found their niche and worked together and tirelessly. This included cleaning toys at a preschool at an agency that provided a safe area for single mothers while they work and attend college or a trade school.  Here preschool kids tore down the egos of a couple of boys as they were on their knees helping them with coloring. At the Lutheran Social Services, the kids helped prepared food, setting up a buffet and cleaning up for a group of people who were attending a meeting on how to best get a job. They worked side by side with people who were learning job skills. One student learned how to cook portabella mushrooms. After leaving the LSS we drove across the city to an agency who was preparing food packets to be shipped toAfricaand the local area. Again the kids learned about the goal, the job they were to perform and achieved it before we left. One group visited people who were infected with the HIV virus and listened to their stories. There was a group who cleaned a home for homeless kids. However we all ate at a “soup kitchen” for our suppers. Several kids were fearful and appre­hensive about being around the homeless until they entered the building. They were encouraged to eat at the same tables along with the homeless. By the end of the meal, the kids came away with a different feeling of the homeless. They humanized the homeless.

How this time with the Urban Immersion will influence their future has yet been determined, but I do know that God was with them during their stay and the confir­mation students were affected by the experiences. As they returned to their friends and schools.  I know they will remember their times in Minneapolis and will have a much better under­standing and empathy of the hardships of those who are suffering. Who knows how God will direct their lives.

John Lee

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