WOW! What a weekend! THANK YOU for the many prayers that covered our Chicago Mission Experience! The presence of the Holy Spirit and the sharing of the kids & adults with the people of Chicago were absolutely INCREDIBLE. We were all IMPACTED with how the Lord used us to His GLORY and the blessings have changed our lives! PRAISE GOD! Your prayers made a difference! That was how our month ended—on a great experience with God and each other.  We are still in the recovery stage of catching up with sleep, but I still have a smile on my face and I must say, we were very proud of our kids.

We started off the experience early on a Friday morning at the Mt. Haley Altar with prayer for us by Pastor David and drove most of the day hitting Chicago in the midst of a traffic jam – the praise was that the kids got a close look at all of the downtown Chicago skyline.  Friday night began with a meal at a Puerto Rican restaurant where the kids gobbled some great ethnic food, while we got acquainted with our CSM host, Taylor.  After a great supper, we spent the next couple of hours on a prayer tour around the city of Chicago, visiting places of need, different neighborhoods and a chance to feel the atmosphere and picture of the people of Chicago.  Many prayers were prayed that night, as we heard the joys and plights of people’s lives.

We were up early Saturday morning and by 7:00 AM at the Canaan Baptist Food Pantry on the south side of Chicago.  We met and worked for a most incredible 70 year old lady named Ms. D that had a limitless heart for God & people as we help package and carry bags for families that lined up for two blocks for four hours to receive food for their families.  We also had the opportunities to talk and share with people, pray for them and offer them a message of peace and hope.  Beginning with this and throughout the day we were able to pray and distribute our green, glow in the dark bracelets that say “Prayed 4 and I am Loved.”  We don’t know who was more blessed, the people we prayed for or ourselves.

From there we proceeded to a place called “Two Lil Fishes.” This is a lunch program that reaches out to the homeless in the Uptown neighborhood. Our group spent time talking & sharing with the patrons and serving the meal.  We also met an incredible person named Isaac who shared his testimony of homelessness and someone we had a direct connection with because he grew up in Saginaw and even worked as an intern at Dow Chemical. He encouraged the kids to invest in people and share the gospel of Christ. After all that work at developing relationships and helping people, we had lunch and some slurpees from 7-Eleven.

We then took a walking prayer tour of the city and were totally fascinated with the needs, people and sights of the city.  Our activity immediately following that tested our faith and courage as we engaged in “Meet a Need.”  Each adult with a couple of kids were given $5 and challenged to meet & greet people on the streets of the city sharing prayers and the gospel of Christ.  The students met the challenge as they bought water, hamburgers, coffee, etc to offer to people, but most important they offered prayer and hope to many of the people they met, as well as bracelets.  We were blessed!

We finished our ministries by going to the Cornerstone Community Outreach’s center to help organize their huge rummage & clothing thrift store.  Located on the sixth floor and very hot –we were happy to conclude our serving for the day.

The evening meal was unbelievable!  We ate at a Thai restaurant called the “Siam Café” where we enjoyed a 7-course meal and lots of conversation about our day.  Praises, debriefing and counting of blessings filled the evening as we thank God for the experience we had.

Sunday morning we attend and worshiped at the Lawndale Community Church – an African-American congregation that works to renew the Lawndale neighborhood community.  Lunch was at a Mediterranean restaurant called “Dawali’s” where Lawrence & Jo blessed us with a rich dessert of Baklava.  Thank you Adams!

We spent the long ride home, sleeping, laughing, counting our blessings and sharing with each other the experiences we had.  The mission ended “At the Altar” of our church thanking God for being able to serve him and giving all the honor & glory to Him.  Ask any kid and they will say they want to go back.  God touched us and the stories will live in our hearts for a long time.  Every one of us was impacted in our relationship with Christ, each other and the people we meet on a daily basis.  We truly learned to “Love God, Love Others.”  Thank you for your prayers and support.

This was a great experience to kick-off our new year.  Youth starts up again on Sunday night, September 9th, hopefully in our newly remodeled Youth Room.  (GREAT BIG THANK YOU)  We will begin with post-lessons on our mission trip and a Church of God Youth ministry called “Spread the Word.”  We will welcome new sixth graders into the youth ministry and hope to invite and bring many friends to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  New 2012-2013 Medical Release and Permission forms will be coming in the mail.  What an exciting time in our youth ministry!

During class time on Sunday mornings (10:00-10:45) the Middle School students are meeting with Maggie Hyde and the High School Class is with Pastor Jerry & Connie.  The High School students are studying the book of Romans and we are inviting YOU to come.  Each lesson stands on its own; you are not behind or ahead, SO, join on Sunday mornings.  (You just have to GET UP and COME.)  As always, you are invited to church also at 11:00.   One item of information for you, there will be NO youth on Sunday, September 16, 2012 because Connie & I will be attending the Baby Dedication of our granddaughter in Lansing.  Thanks for your understanding.

Praise God for the AWESOME summer we have had!   Your prayers have been felt in everything activity and lesson we had this summer!  Let’s pray for a great beginning to a new year.

Love God, Love People!

Pastor Jerry

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