We’ve already had so many great moments on this trip! Everyone is doing so well and we hope you enjoy the below stories that share a bit about what we’ve experienced here in Philly so far.
“The first night arriving to Streetwise was a pretty crazy, tiring, and forgiving day. We arrived, settled in and were thrown right into serving. We were assigned by Urban Hope to work in an area that is a more impoverished and depressed portion of the city. We had constructed lunches that consisted of sandwiches and bottled water to give to the homeless. When I had stepped off the bus onto the streets we had encountered many people who were in great need of the lunches.
One guy who really stuck out to me was Hector. Hector was an older, Hispanic man who lived in or around the area. He was with his wife and asked for a couple of the lunches. Although Hector didn’t speak much English, and was living with very little he was one of the most optimistic, enthusiastic, and thankful guys we had encountered. After we had given him the lunches he wanted to stick around the group and talk to us about us and himself and had also offered many hugs. Before we had left him and his wife to themselves, he demanded to get a group picture with all of us. We had encountered many people like Hector who were very thankful and even stopped to talk about the church. These people are a huge part that gives us that feeling of generosity and hope. They live in one of the most broken, hurt, and depressed areas and yet still find a way to express kindness and to stop and listen. Spreading the word of the gospel to people of a community and seeing the people absorb our faith, allows for you and God to see the wonder.” – Reis Rising
“Today I got the opportunity to experience the islamic culture. Earlier in the morning Sean McDowell, the StreetWise conference speaker, spoke about muslims and how we could encounter them in a loving, respectful way. He compared christianity with islam. One of the points that stuck out to me the most was “In the Qu’ran it says God is loving, but in the Bible it says God is love.” One of the main distinctions islamic culture is false is because it doesn’t mention the death and the resurrection of Christ. It skips over the most important part, God’s relentless grace that He gives us by dying for our sins. When I arrived at the mosque in New Jersey, it was different then I had pictured. Usually when you think of a mosque you think of a high domed building with lot’s of unique designs.
Instead, it was just a regular building with people who need the truth of Jesus. All the Muslims were very accepting of our faith and practiced true hospitality to our whole team. At the mosque Sean shared the gospel and after, the imam shared his beliefs. The people there prepared and served us a delicious meal along with a huge spread of deserts. (My personal favorite was the triple fudge chocolate cake which was totally unhealthy, but was totally worth it!) After the meal, people in the room were allowed to ask questions about either faith. I’ll be honest, it was very interesting to hear the answer the imam gave to try and compare his faith to Christianity. During the time questions were still being asked, I saw a Muslim man sitting to the right of me on the side of the room. With God’s strength, I got up from my seat and sat with the man on the floor and started a conversation with him. He told me his name was Mustafa and explained to me about his wife and 14 month old daughter. It was such an amazing opportunity I can’t even explain it. I asked about his culture and some of the practices he believes, which was cool because he then asked about mine. Although I didn’t get to describe in defaultdetail about Christianity, I got to plant a small seed in Mustafa’s life. Just initiating one simple conversation and listening with care allowed me to be able and connect to the Muslim man. It just goes to show how good God is. He is working in the lives of the people here in Philadelphia and He’s using our team to make a difference. I am loving StreetWise! It has been amazing being able to bond with everyone. And not to mention our leaders are great. Please continue to be praying for us as we have another fun, full day ahead of us!” – Hannah Engle
Thank you all for your prayers! Look for more stories and pictures tomorrow.