Your M25 Mission Team had a great week serving among the homeless in Atlanta last week. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask any of us, we’d say that we are “Blessed and Highly Favored.” That is the common response that our friends at 7 Bridges to Recovery say every time someone asks “how are you.” With great enthusiasm, mind you. Here is a small glimpse of how our week went.

kidsMonday we took a route that our 7 Bridges friends take every day (rain, sleet, snow, ice, heat – better than the post office) to deliver a sack lunch and offer prayer to several apartment complexes, on the street sidewalks, under the bridges, and even as we were driving through some neighborhoods.  I witnessed several of our students and adults overcoming fears, speaking/praying in public, preconceived ideas, and smells that I wish upon no one, in such a caring and loving way.  Another joy of the day was getting to play with children at a couple of the apartment complexes. Children have few barriers and can find joy/bring out joy in any circumstance they find themselves. At the end of our route, we met a new friend who shared with our group a message of hope and vision. She pointed to each of our youth and challenged them to be whomever God is calling them to be. Literally, everyone in view was given a purpose in life by our new friend and it was cool to see!

father's dayTuesday was another great day for your M25 Mission Team. We spent most of the day at the Gateway Center in the heart of downtown ATL.  Some of our team gave manicures and shoulder massages, others sorted and distributed clothes out of their clothes closet, and the remainder of us picked up trash outside the building (which was merely an opportunity to meet and hear some wisdom from those who found a bit of shade and a small cardboard box for comfort) and then decorated a Happy Father’s Day bulletin board. After a quick lunch we headed over to the SafeHouse Outreach building. We shared a nontraditional communion (grape ice cream and broken waffle cone) meal with the clients there. Then served them ice cream and played Jenga while getting to have some great conversations.  I witnessed the youth and our leaders stepping out of comfort zones, dealing with the reality that not every lives the way we do, and seeing that hope does not discriminate.

bdayWednesday at M25 was quite an experience. Multiple times we celebrated Libby Hume and Brittany Krietemeyer’s birthday. The youth experienced the homelessness module. The module is a self guided tour through the stories and challenges the homeless often face. Stations were setup around the church where we were staying, and the experience was tough, but very meaningful.  After a “rest” we went to the Clifton Sanctuary Ministries. There we met men who showed us that there is hope for breaking out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness. The men are in a final phase of re-acclimating to independent living, budget training and job hunt preparation. We have experienced so much this week, at times it has felt overwhelming, empowering, exhausting, and amazing.

jengaWell, I have to be honest. When we got home, I was wiped out. Thursday morning, prior to returning home, we made one last stop at the SafeHouse Outreach and made some of the most fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches to serve at lunch, played some intense Jenga, and celebrated a great week of transformation in our lives.

A few easy things we learned this week – 1. Change a Day: we may not change someone’s life, but by loving people well, we can bring change to someone’s day when we love them the way Jesus loves us; 2. Blessed and Highly Favored: you are a child of God, therefore you are blessed and highly favored; and 3. So That…the Kingdom of Heaven and the Glory of God may be known. Thank you for sharing in the journey of M25 Mission Camp with us! Thank you Drew Burkhalter, Chelsea Thomason, Scott Fillmer, Logan Hays, and Brittany Krietemeyer for leading our team with me well! Now, the mission continues at home, among our friends and those whom we encounter.

Pat Bethea
Youth Pastor