Hey Y’all! I can’t believe we only have one more day here in ATL! Thursday morning we went to The Center for Civil and Human Rights. At the center we walked around and looked at various rooms displaying different issues in our world. First we looked at a room all about Martin Luther King Jr. where they had letters and documents from him on display. They also had a replicated wall of what they thought his book shelves may have looked like and the books they think he may have had.
Next we went to the floor for Civil Rights. Here they have a simulator that shows what it would have felt like to participate in a sit-in. There was also a room showing the struggles of the Freedom Riders and the path that they traveled and their many arrests. Next there was a very large displayed video of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech and it also showed everyone who went out to support and come together. There were more rooms showing the struggle for civil rights.
On the next floor there were a few rooms showing the problems and struggles for people around the world. Some of the issues were women’s rights, sex slavery, and the plight of people living under oppressive dictatorships today. There are life size videos of people around the world sharing their stories of everyday struggles that they go through. This center was an amazing and very eye-opening experience for our team.
Then Thursday night we had our last kids camp at our locations and churches. All three programs went very well and we even saw kids accept Jesus into their hearts! Overall it was a fantastic week with the kids and we built some incredible relationships with the kids and their parents.
What a crazy week! These days are seriously flying by! Wednesday was an eventful day as we visited the Al-Farooq mosque in downtown Atlanta. Upon our arrival at the mosque we were instructed to remove our shoes before entering, as is the custom as to keep the mosque and its floor clean. We met the “director of community outreach” and he gave a tour of the mosque. The first thing the director showed us was the washroom. This was a first time experience for most of us on this trip and it was a confusing one. We learned that muslims believe they have to wash themselves in a very specific way before every single prayer in order to be “perfectly clean” in order to be presentable to their god. Another thing about the muslim belief is that they pray five times every single day, at the exact same time every day, praying five different prayers that are repeated every day. It is so great to know that we can pray to God wherever and whenever we want to! We don’t have to wash ourselves before we come before God in prayer!
After the washroom we went to the main prayer room and we learned about the five pillars of Islam which are the five core concepts of their belief that they must live by. Once the director was finished, we had a Q&A session where we could ask any question we had about Islam or the lives of muslims. We learned that those who follow Islam have no assurance that they will go to heaven. They work their entire lives living for the five pillars of Islam, hoping that can do enough good works that god might show them mercy. Wow…it is so awesome to KNOW that we can go to heaven and spend eternity with God. What’s amazing about God is that his love is endless . The Bible says “For God SO loved the world…” He doesn’t just like us or put up with us, He sent his Son to die for all of us. And I forget who said this but for me it really opened my eyes to God’s love for the whole world. They said, “Does God love the lost? Does God love those who hate Him? Does God loves the Muslim as he is praying to allah?” God loves every person all the time. My heart goes to the muslims who put so much dedication into their religion.
On a positive note, tonight is our last night at our kid’s camp! The last three days don’t seem like nearly enough time and every night we’re as sad to leave the kids as the kids are sad that we are leaving. Tonight we are presenting the gospel and I’m so excited! The Haitian church has been such a blessing and making friends with the kids is so amazing! God is definitely doing wonders with our team and I can’t wait to see how God moves in the lives of the kids tonight! Thank you everyone for all of your prayers! We’re feeling the love!
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (Mark Wengerd)
Hey everyone! Thanks for coming to this blog to check out what God is doing on the #EncounterATL trip! He is already working in a big way and we cannot wait to see what He has in store for us next. Every day for the rest of this trip, we’ll have a student or students share about the day from their perspective. Today, you’ll be hearing from Deborah! Thanks for your prayers – we appreciate them!
Billy Starkey, Grace Students Director
Wow, it has been a busy and eventful two days!! Yesterday morning the whole team went to orientation at Encompass to be introduced to the ministry that we are helping out with. Our group headed to Buford Highway Farmers Market after learning about situations we might encounter and how to respect people we meet that are from other cultures. Buford Highway Farmers Market is a world farmers market that focuses on different ethnic and cultural foods. After we explored in the market for a while, we parked ourselves in the cafeteria for lunch that is provided there. Just a few of the crazy food items that we purchased and taste tested were raw octopus, camel’s milk, raw eel, bubble tea, rambutan, and chiquita mini bananas! After lunch, we headed back to the Encompass office and debriefed what we had seen at the market. We then headed to Best Friend Park and started to put together activities and skits for the kids camps that we would be holding at three different locations. Our teams headed to their locations at about 5:00 to set up the camps. We went around and made ourselves familiar with the locations and then began to introduce ourselves to the children. That night, two children from one of the locations actually accepted Jesus! We got off to a great start!! After the camps we ended the night with team time, dinner, and watched a disappointing NBA Finals game. All in all, day one was successful!
This morning the team headed to Encompass again to be educated on the Hindu religion. After, everyone loaded up the vans and we headed to a mandir, one of the largest Hindu temples in the United States, and began a tour. We witnessed some Hindus performing their prayer rituals and got the chance to ask questions about their beliefs and religion. We went from the mandir to the Global Mall to have lunch. We got the chance to try food from an Indian buffet and expand our cultural taste buds! Post lunch, we had a chance to explore the mall and then we went back to the hotel to regroup before camps. We then headed to Best Friend Park to work on skits and crafts for the second day of our kids camps. We, once again, had a successful evening at every single location! At debriefing there were many stories shared and compliments to others paid. We ended the night with team time and two wonderful, powerful songs. Praise the Lord for a successful first two days! We are praying for the rest of the week to be just as good and we are thankful for your prayers as well!!