Urban Mission Trips :: Atlanta Mission Trips :: Experience Mission :: www.ExperienceMission.org
The following blog was originally written for Krista Jensen’s Facebook friends.
By Krista Jensen
Atlanta, GA - Summer Mission Trips
Most of you may know the opportunity that was given to me this summer but for those of you who do not, I was given a job as a student intern with a mission organization called Experience Mission with the title of Outreach Coordinator. Little did I know about the tremendous amount of responsibility that would be placed on my shoulders.
I was placed in the south side of Atlanta, GA with three other amazing interns, Adrienne, Lyndee and Matt, where we would embark on a journey of struggles and triumphs. I love these people to death and they have become such a great part of my life! Our task this summer was to take the leadership role of a short-term mission trip and coordinate each team that would come to Atlanta every week. Youth groups traveled far and wide from South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina and joined us for a week that would change their lives. For most of the teams coming from small rural towns, Atlanta was a big cultural shock for them and even those teams from inner cities themselves their eyes were open to a whole new life that they didn’t even know existed.
It’s amazing the poverty you can find in your own city, being fully aware that it exists but just never seeing it face to face. Why can we go to the depths of poverty, gangs, violence, drugs and prostitution in an unfamiliar city, but when it comes to our own it’s an untouchable place?
While we were in Atlanta, we partnered with the Salvation Army Lakewood Corps with whom we had most of our service and outreach ministries. These ministries consisted of painting the outside of an apartment complex in the scorching Atlanta heat, and two locations for Kids Clubs in the afternoon. Aside from the Salvation Army, we also had ministry locations with the Initiative for Affordable Housing where a nature trail was being made as well as other small construction projects, and a few times in the summer we spent time building relationships with the clients at the 24/7 Gateway Homeless services center and volunteered behind the scenes help at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Needless to say, us interns had our work cut out for us this summer. But we knew that we would not be only, not only did we have the teams that came in, but we had a huge support at the Lakewood Corps church but specifically Jason Pope and Daynes Viera were our biggest and greatest support. They were not only awesome, amazing people with a heart and a vision for their community and so much fun to work with but they instantly became our closest friends and family. I thank God so much for the relationships that we were able to build with each other and with the congregation at Atlanta Lakewood. Another huge blessing that i can say for all of us would be Ms. Lynn our amazing, comical cook who made dinner for us all summer.
With that just being a basic intro, many people have asked me “so, how was Atlanta” and usually I just give the short, “it was amazing, best summer of my life” not because I don’t have much to say but that if i were to tell everyone exactly how it was, i would be talking for years! Writing this is a good way of reflection for me but it also benefits ya’ll who read it as well!
God taught me endless amounts of things this summer, about my life and about him as well. I know that i will continually be learning from things that has happened this summer. Even things that i thought i had learned a while ago, God would just use situations and people as a reminder.
I would like to share this verse of scripture. It is one that many of you probably have heard before–Matthew 25:35-40:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
I am a firm believer of this passage, you can serve God in a lot of ways but i believe that to truly serve the face of God you need to be serving the “least of these.” We need to look outside of our self-recognition and see these people as children of God, loved by God despite their circumstances. In the Bible, it is told that Jesus hung around the poor, unclean, liars, cheaters and prostitutes so shouldn’t we do the same? We are created by God, loved by God, chosen by God to be like him to others and demonstrate his love so what does it mean when we choose to not do that? Ultimately it shows that those “lower than us”(described by the world) are not deserving of that love. And who are we to determine who is deserving of Christ’s love, for it is a gift given to us by the one who wants everyone to know.
Matthew 16:24-26 says:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Just like this passage says, we must deny ourselves, and deny our comfort and opinions of the world and although we might lose status in the world it would be much better than losing our soul. For if Christ is the one that we live for and love than we must go to the depths, go to the unseen and “unclean” and show them that their is no difference between you and I, show them that even though the world says that we’re different, that is not what I, in Christ believe.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of homeless people that we met this summer who was blown away by the fact that we would touch them, shake their hands, touch their shoulder, even hug them. Because they were dirty, hadn’t showered in however many days and seen as a disgrace to society.
My heart was broken even more for God’s people this summer, and it’s my heart’s utmost desire that more Christians would see the least and lost as God’s people too. And wouldn’t care about losing their life in order to gain something greater.
See, I told you that I could talk for years, and this is just one thing God has laid on my heart his summer. This summer, I laughed, cried, danced, was challenged, broken and faced down on the floor before God.
If you want anymore stories, feel free to talk to me.
To God be the Glory for all the things he has done!