Today we left Wesley Seminary at 9:30 and attended service at the Rising Hope Mission Church. This is a church that specifically caters toward those who are below the poverty line and homeless. The main goal of the mission is to be a church for the poor rather than one that simply supports ministries for the poor. It is such an uplifting experience to see work like this being done in an area that truly needs it.
The Worship service today probably ranked as one of the best worship experiences I have had. The energy in worship was so high and it seemed like everyone actually wanted to be there. As I sat in worship I reflected on times when I used to go to church and as we sang hymns and songs it sounded like people were just dead as they sang. There would be no enthusiasm and there was no atmosphere. However, at Rising Hope everyone was singing loud and proud no matter if they could sing or not. They were just making a joyful noise to the Lord. When we allow this type of passion into our worship services we truly allow the Spirit to work within us and be a part of our worshiping experience. It reminded me that I should never stifle the Spirit in worship, but let it come out and never be afraid to express God within a service.
Also during service we participated in a Wesley Covenant Service. This was something planned by the church months ago and was planned without even thinking about Wesley students visiting the church. However, this was one of those “God has a sense of humor” kind of moments, because this is something that I totally needed as a recharging agent for my spiritual growth (especially on a trip like this). Working with these kinds of people I felt that it really cleared my mind and allowed me to place my mind in a place to disconnect from all of my preconceived notions about this trip.
After worship we got our first opportunity to interact with members of the church as they had a lunch after church. Being able to interact with the members of this church gave me an opportunity to learn who they really were, where they came from, what they do, and what passions they have. I talked about many things. Church, exercising, and yes even football (as the Redskins did play this afternoon). Getting to know these people truly allows me to place myself within this culture. This trip is all about being immersed within a certain culture and learning who these people are allows me to understand who these people are. I really want to know what this community is all about. My goal from this Immersion was to learn more about this culture. I want to learn more because this is a culture I see myself working with when I become a pastor and am leading ministries of my own.
The last thing we did at church was we had an opportunity to sit in on a Church Council meeting in which we got to learn about all the different ministries that are offered through Rising Hope. It showed me that this is truly a place that is there for the poor. They are right in the mix by having a food pantry, feeding people meals, and providing a hypothermia shelter to get them out of the cold. The church just provides a safe haven for homeless people to be spiritual. These people come to church and participate in worship. They help make decisions for the church to reach out to other people they know to get them into the church as well.
Overall it was a learning day (our first of two) in which we were introduced to the culture. AsI learn about this culture a little bit more I hope to be changed by the culture. There is such a need in this context of American Culture to help others, those who are less fortunate. The poor is a largely growing group and a mission like this reminds us it is not something that we can just throw money at, but it is a place where we have to dig in and get our hands dirty. Meeting these people today was the first knock that reminded me of this goal. It is unfortunately something we must all be reminded of, but this is the big message of my day is that I truly need to be involved with these people in order to help them. I hope that through this week I can learn of ways in which I can do that and be an advocate of God to these people and help them grow spiritually as well.
Be back tomorrow with another update hopefully.