Written by Carolyn Fairbanks. Digital Media by Jessica Sturgeon.
This past weekend, Greenville students plunged into St. Louis to serve the homeless. Forty-five students volunteered their weekend to serve at two ministries, Sun Ministries and Covenant House.
On Friday night, students took a tour at Sun Ministries. We walked around the neighborhood surrounding Hyde Park to see the sights that Sun Ministries works at, as well as to learn about some of the historical buildings. “It was so cool to learn more about this area,” Kayla Henneberry explained. “It has so much history, but it makes me sad how abandoned it is.”
Sun Ministries is an organization that has focuses on helping the neighborhood find and keep jobs to help fight the poverty. They are currently renovating a café and an apartment building to open for the neighborhood, but they have buildings in the neighborhood already that are being used as workshops and opportunity centers.
After the tour, we ate barbeque in fellowship with each other and Sun Ministries missionaries. The night ended with worship and a powerful testimony from Executive Director Dr. Terry Goodwin. Goodwin spoke of the chains that were wrapped around him most of his life. He explained that the only way to remove these chains were to forgive those that put them there.
Students were given paper to write down what chains they have and people they need to forgive. They then laid down the papers at a cross, giving it to Christ. Some brave souls stood before the group to share what they wrote down. It was a powerful night. God’s presence filled the room, pushing strangers to confess their weaknesses and pains.
The next day, students were split into four groups to visit the different sites. Some worked on yard work, dry-walled, and tanked walls. My group made crafts for the ministry using coffee bags and beans. We made earrings, bracelets, and stockings. They will take these items to festivals to sell them. Jo’s Java actually sells some of these bags made out of coffee bags, so go check them out!
After a day of work, we went to Covenant House, which is a house for homeless teenagers. They offer short term and long term housing for teenagers
ages 16 to 21. Along with housing, the organization offers GED preparation classes, life skills classes, employment training, and placement assistance. When taking a tour, “I was surprised how nice the living arrangements were,” Chelsea Kirkley revealed. “It was so bright and happy!”
After the tour, we played games and ate pizza with residents there. I met Carrie, who was from Haiti, and Frank, who lived in Saint Louis his whole life. They shared their stories of how they got to Covenant House and what they wanted to do with their lives. Carrie hopes to become a nurse and is attending school with that as her goal. Their stories were unimaginable as was their willingness to share them with strangers.
The weekend was life changing for many that attended, including myself. It was a time to interact with Greenville students that I didn’t previously know and serve to our neighboring community. Urban Plunge is hosted every semester by the World and Mission’s Outreach office, so keep your ears open next semester for another opportunity.