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Nine members of the Montrose Evangelical Free Church, including five teens and four adults, signed up for a life-changing experience this summer.
Members of the Montrose Evangelical Free Church performed street ministry in Carmel, NY.
The team, all members of the Montrose E-Free Church, traveled to Carmel, NY, an hour north of The Bronx, New York City for a week-long outreach trip. The trip, which was facilitated by the Children's Bible Fellowship of NY, allowed the team to perform skits and clowning in an impoverished neighborhood, carry lunches to the homeless, and do work projects at CBF's camps. "When we had spare time, we would interact with the children at camp. The campers at Camp Hope had all kinds of handicaps, from physical to mental. They were a lot of fun," recalls Sarah Fahringer.
Trip leader Steve Smoker said that he is thrilled with the impact the trip made on the lives of the students. He explains, "The trip was primarily for our students, although the adults who went were equally involved." The trip gave the local youth a chance to see, up close, the challenges of raising a family in an urban environment, Smoker said. "We ministered in an area called Hunts Point. It's one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the nation. Many of the children that grow up there are literally traumatized by their surroundings. Its easy for our teens to be preoccupied with the next school dance or the latest electronic gadget. Firsthand exposure to what's going on outside your bubble blows away your complacency."
"We wanted our students to experience what life in the inner city is like, and to be moved to the same compassion Jesus had for the hurting. It's very difficult to be moved from a distance. You need to experience some things firsthand," said youth leader Lara Rose.
Smoker adds, "We met children starved for affection. I mean, there we were, total strangers with a dab of clown make-up on, but the kids would just cling to you. We tried to leave them with hope, which is even more important than the physical food we gave away."
When expressing the biggest reward for the group, rising junior Sarah Maynard says that it is the long-term impact in the lives of the participants. "At the end of the week we went to a conference where we were challenged to do hard things. I want the compassion that God gave me in New York to affect my life here at home. We need to step up and do hard things." Montrose high school student Carolyn Myer adds, "I loved working in the City. I hope I can go back."
Smoker says, "The life of a true Christ-follower is about being a servant. We are called to be Christ's hands, His feet, His voice. I think our students got that." Last, but not least, Smoker appreciates the parents of the students. "They took a risk, letting their students minister in the inner city. It was stretching for everyone, but in the end, we were the ones who benefited most, all because we learned to share a little bit of kindness in Jesus' name."
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