Written by Shelby Riddle. Media by Jack Wang. [divide]
Over Spring Break, Greenville College students’ Beth Watkins, Emma Maurer, Ellen Lu, and I went to New City Fellowship – a church in St. Louis, Missouri. We worked with the organization CityLights to do mission work for the week. We planned on doing yard work, painting and house repairs, however, the tasks assigned were much different than anticipated.
The majority of the time was spent forming relationship between ourselves, the church community, and the new members of the city. We were able to visit with many families who had just moved to the United States within the last 6 months from Refugee camps in Africa. These families did not speak much English which made it complicated to communicate, but we communicated by different means. One lady we visited spoke no English but had a 3 week old baby that she showed to us and had all of us hold. Verbal communication was difficult but with our hands and facial expressions we showed her that she should be proud of the baby.
We had the opportunity to visit elderly people in assisted-living homes. One of the women that we visited told another man that her church always sent her friends to visit with. The man pondered that for a moment and said, “That must be a real church.” James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Throughout the week we truly were able to live this passage out and we had the opportunity to take care of those who are unaccustomed to our culture and those who are alone. One day, we spent the afternoon with a family who we had been getting too know throughout the week. The youngest daughter read a book to us about hopscotch and we discovered that this family had never played the child’s game. So, we took everyone outside, the children drew the game on the sidewalk, and we all played hopscotch. It’s amazing how much a simple child’s game can bring people together in laughter and fellowship.
Throughout the week we had many opportunities to meet people and to hear their stories. We were able to learn a lot about what it’s like to be new in a culture that is unfamiliar. Overall, we had a wonderful week serving others and loving them like God loves us. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” As Christians, we are called to go out and serve.