CSM Boston: Thursday

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We spent the day with the boys from Eagle’s Nest Landing Center and had SO much fun with them! We started off at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (where ENLC is based out of) and some of the team played chess with the boys while others colored or did word searches. Just before lunch we headed to a local park where we played in the playground with the younger boys, threw the frisbee and and played ball with the older ones. After a few cracks of thunder we figured it was time to head out (apparently it hailed back home, only 45 minutes away… but we didn’t get any of that in the city).

IMG_3269We eventually headed over to the Ray & Joan Kroc Center. This was built by the Salvation Army through the donation of Ray & Joan Kroc (the founders of McDonalds). The Kroc Center has an indoor water park, a gymnasium, educational programs, and a theater/chapel where the Salvation Army holds worship services.

 

We all agreed that we felt a little funny going to a water park on our missions trip, but as soon as we all got in the water the boys really started interacting with us even more than they had before. Whether it was waiting in line for the water slide, playing water volleyball or basketball, floating together in the lazy river, or playing with the littler boys in their section… we really had a blast with the boys.

After we were done swimming together Mr. Duncan took us to the chapel where we all talked together. When I shared with the group that we would love to come back and see them again since we’re so close some of the boys got visibly moved. One of them (who’s usually a jokester) spoke up and said, “That’s really sweet!” and had a huge smile on his face. These are kids who are used to teams coming in for a week and then they never see them again. But since EBC is so close to Boston we have the great opportunity to follow up with these boys and this great ministry. They don’t usually get many volunteers during the school year, and even during the summer CSM is the only group that consistently sends volunteers. What a great opportunity to show these boys that we genuinely care for them and want to invest in them!

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CSM Boston: Tuesday

Boston Team - Tie Dye

On this wonderful “tie-dye Tuesday,” the morning started at the Eagle’s Nest again. After an exhilarating game of “7 Up” (while waiting for the boys to finish their classwork), our team was split in two and competed with the boys in Bible Jeopardy. We had lots of play time outside with the boys before lunch. After a few rounds of Knock-Out on the basketball court, we spent plenty of time running and playing with the kids.Mr. Duncan and the guys on our team surprised the boys with two laundry baskets full of water balloons before we left.

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One of the boys asked Michele to read to him, so she got her Bible and they read various Bible stories for a while. It was a great opportunity for her to dig into the faith and teach the kids more about who God is and about his love.

After Eagle’s Nest, we went to Boston Rescue Mission. Anthony, the kitchen supervisor, got us to work quickly. Some students got to work cooking, others organized the food, cleaned the floors, and set up the tables and chairs.

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Here are some of the things students want you to know about the Boston Rescue Mission

  • They have programs to help addicts to get back on their feet.
  • They serve 1500 each day (between the six meals they serve each day to residents and people off the streets)
  • The people who work there are nice and friendly. They’re also residents of the program and are working hard to get back on their feet.
  • It’s awesome.
  • The staff does a great job taking care of volunteers and giving advice to not make the mistakes they made. (The girls were especially warned “beware of those college boys.”)
  • The staff really gets to know the people who come through during meals, and they care for them beyond the food they serve.

CSM Boston: Monday

It’s been a busy few days. The team arrived on Sunday night and enjoyed Mexican food while learning more about what to expect in the week to come.

CSM Boston Team Picture

On Monday morning we spent the morning serving at the Eagle’s Nest Learning Center, which we also spent this morning and will also go on Thursday. Eagle’s Nest provides tutoring, Christian education, and important friendships to boys from some of the most difficult neighborhoods of Boston. Mr. Duncan, Eagle’s Nest founder and only full-time staff member, drives his 15 passenger van to pick up and drop the boys off each day. We have quickly grown to love these energetic and fun boys. Ministries and organizations like Eagle’s Nest are important for students to receive the support and friendships that’s so essential. Many boys turn to gangs for the support they haven’t received elsewhere, Eagle’s Nest helps provide adult mentors, spiritual formation, and educational tutoring that will help these boys develop into mature and godly young men.

After leaving the Eagle’s Nest we went to Boston Commons for our “immersion” experience. Over the next four hours, we broke into four groups and each team member received $2 for dinner and a number of questions related to homelessness in Boston. Each group then spread out throughout the Boston Commons and the neighborhoods surrounding it in search for some answers to our questions (like: “How long have you lived here? What changes in this neighborhood have you observed regarding homelessness? Where can you find a free meal? Where can you find shelter? Where could you receive medical care in case of emergency?”). One of the additional challenges each team received was to purchase and share dinner with one homeless person with our team’s few dollars.

I (Pastor Mike) can’t write at length about other teams’ experiences, but we all agreed that talking to strangers was a challenge that became a bit easier with each conversation.

CSM Boston: Chuck

My group (Jesse, Amy, Sarah) shared some pizza with a man named Chuck (we met a few other people too, but I’ll just tell you about Chuck). As we talked with him, he shared his story about how he’s from Foxboro and how he moved to Boston because “you aren’t allowed to be homeless in a town, you’ll get arrested for being on the street.” Chuck told us how he worked for a concrete pumping company for 32 years when he had a stroke, got laid off, and couldn’t sustain the medical debt after his “girl” left him.

Other groups had similar stories of men and women who broke the stereotypes we may think of when we hear about the “homeless.” One group even met someone with a Masters degree from Boston University.  Stereotypes may fit certain people you will encounter, but they never tell the whole story for everyone who have that stereotype thrust upon them.

Parents, you’d be impressed by the resourcefulness of your teens. Some groups pooled money together to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to be able to share with someone else in need. Another group found a food pantry where they were given plenty of food to be able to eat and share with others.

Our day concluded with a prayer tour through Boston, exploring the challenges of gang violence, education, poverty, and racism.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for health and soft hearts, that we’d be able to learn and experience all that God has in store for us.
  • Pray for Mr. Duncan and the Eagle’s Nest Learning Center’s ministry. Pray for the boys whose families are not the most nurturing places to grow up.
  • Pray for those who are experiencing homelessness… that they would receive the help available to them, and that they would be given opportunities to get back on their feet.

Boston Missions Team: Packing List & Final Details

Departure & Return Details:

  • Departure: EBC 3:45pm Sun., Aug 3rd
  • Return: EBC 10:00pm Fri., Aug 8th

What to Bring: (please pack light, you can rewear clothes, no one will judge you!) 

  • Shirts (mostly short-sleeve, but bring something warmer too in case it gets cold at night), shorts, long pants, close toed shoes.
  • Light jacket (in case it rains)
  • Towel & bathroom essentials (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Hair drying is not a bathroom essential)
  • Guys, make sure you pack a bathing suit since our showers are open and there are no individual shower stalls.
  • Bible, Journal, Pen
  • Sheets (twin sheets) or Sleeping Bag & Pillow (if you pack a sleeping bag, try to bring a thin one since it is the summer and we won’t have tons of room for huge bags in our cargo van).
  • Water bottle (optional, but it would be good to bring)
  • Some spending cash: $30-40 should be enough to cover you for the week unless you want to buy a CSM shirt ($15-20) or other mementos.

CSM’s Dress Code:

  • Comfy clothes: Bring clothes that are comfortable to work in and you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Long and Closed: Pants and closed-toe shoes are required at many of our ministry sites. At some sites you may wear shorts (they must be longer than your finger-tips when your arms are at your side).
  • Reach for the sky: Shirts must be long enough to raise your arms without exposing any skin or underwear. No tank tops or sleeveless shirts.
  • Support no teams: No professional or college sports team clothing or paraphernalia, hats of any kind, or bandanas are permitted. NOTE: Groups members with bald or shaved heads may wear a fishing hat or something similar (no baseball caps) if they are working outside. (note: the written policy about no Red or Blue shirts does not apply to the Boston location)

A Note About Cell Phones: CSM’s policy is to encourage leaders to have cell phones so that students do not need to bring their phone. This doesn’t reflect a lack of trust, but it does reflect the importance of us unplugging for the week to minimize distractions and focus on all God has in store for our team as a whole and each of us individually. Students will be given opportunity to call home mid-week and towards the end of the week before we leave.

Blog Updates: I’m hoping to write a blog update each night with a few pictures and a brief description of what we did that day. I’ve been told the internet at our housing site is “spotty,” so please have understanding and patience if I’m not able to follow through on this, but I’ve found this to be a really helpful way for parents and church members to stay informed while providing the team members a great way to look back and remember what we experienced and learned.

2014 Boston Missions Team

I’m VERY excited to announce our 2014 missions trip is going to be to Boston through Center for Student Missions (CSM). We partnered with CSM a few years ago when we served in Toronto and had a fantastic experience (I blogged each night about our experiences throughout the week, you can read those posts HERE).

What will we be doing?
Each day we’ll serve in a few different ways. In the morning we could be in a food pantry, in the afternoon we could be helping in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program, and one or two nights we’ll be distributing food to men and women experiencing homelessness. Each day will be different, giving our team a wide glimpse of the needs in our own city that we’ve probably never seen before.

Why are we going to Boston? That’s boring!
Sure, going half an hour away isn’t as exciting as flying to another country, but there are serious needs in our own backyard that you’ve probably walked by a hundred times without noticing. Going far away to serve is great, but if we aren’t willing to serve here then why go there?! This is a powerful opportunity for you to grow new eyes to see the needs around you, even in a familiar city.

Who can go?
Any current High School students. Unfortunately, we can only currently accept the first 14 team members (leaders included).

Note about Group-Size
In order to meet their commitments, CSM accepts groups between 8-14 members and 20+, but groups with between 15-19 are too large for one ministry site but too small for two sites. Therefore, we will only be able to accept the first 11 students (three slots must be reserved for adult leaders) and the additional applicants will be put on a waiting list. If we are able to have a 20-person team or if someone on the team needs to withdraw then those on the waiting list will be invited to join the team. Thanks for understanding… and get those applications in ASAP! 🙂

What are the requirements to go?

  1. Regular attendance/participation in Sunday morning worship, Sunday School, and Youth Group meetings.
  2. Active participation in special Youth Group events such as retreats, service projects, etc.
  3. Active participation in Boston Mission Team Meetings (dates TBD, usually Saturdays 9-12 once a month for the 4 months leading up to the trip).
  4. Involvement in Fundraising Efforts to an estimated $400/person to cover costs. Actual cost of $500 ($100 deposit, fundraise $400).
  5. Completion of the Boston Team Application and submission of $100 by March 2nd (youth should contribute towards this deposit).
  6. Respect must be shown at all times to one’s teammates and Team Leaders must be obeyed.
  7. Possession of or acquiring alcohol and illegal drugs, involvement in sexual or violent activity will be grounds for immediate dismissal. You will be responsible for reimbursing Emmanuel Baptist Church for related expenses incurred.

Download the Boston Mission Team Info & Forms

Thoughts After a Hillsong United Concert

Last night I attended a Hillsong United concert at the Wang Theater in Boston.  The Wang Theater seats 3600, and it seemed filled up with people pouring out their hearts before God – what a night… I was very blessed.

Here are some of my reflections on last night (mostly positive):

1.  I love Hillsong United’s heart. You can say what you want about their worship style, but they are totally souled-out for Jesus!  There’s a world of difference between a worship song led by someone who’s performing rather than truly worshipping God.

2. I REALLY appreciate worship songs that address the reality of suffering without simply saying “Jesus will fix it.” When we read the Psalms (the Hymnal of the Old Testament) we find all these times when the writer is really struggling with God’s “distance” and silence.  Many of our worship songs seem to gloss over this “silent times” of faith and almost end up saying “You may be in the valley now, but don’t worry… God will take care of it.”  I appreciated that some of Hillsong United’s songs really dealt with these silent times in a meaningful way.  If you want a better idea what type of song I’m talking about (in a good way) then here’s a video to check out:

3. Altar calls that don’t point to the cross and call people to actually repent and give their lives to Jesus really frustrate me. Jesus is the Gospel.  “God” is a very general word in today’s culture and people can easily interpret “God” to mean whatever they perceive Him to be… but “Jesus” is very specific.  There is no Gospel without what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty grave.  I don’t think every Gospel presentation and Altar call needs to be presented the same exact way, but they should include at least two elements to be affective: First, they need to be Cross-Centered, and Second, they need to call people to Repentance and not simply confession of sin (I can say “Sorry that I’ve sinned” without committing myself to Jesus… but I can’t repent without doing that).

4. I’m getting older... there were moments when I felt like I was on the outside looking in because I didn’t get the worship experience others were feeling.  This really helped me identify with some of the older generations in my own church who are pretty ambivalent about the contemporary worship we’re trying to incorporate at Emmanuel.  There was one point in particular when people were singing “Woah woah woah” with arms raised high and clearly were being “moved,” but I just didn’t get it.  I don’t mean this as a judgement or anything… I just didn’t get it and felt like an old fuddy-duddy for a few minutes.

5. I was challenged to ask “How does some of this translate to serving churches in their worship services?” Some of the songs were great songs declaring who God is and what He’s done and what He promises,etc… but I couldn’t help thinking “How do you get up and preach a sermon after this song?”  Maybe I’m even more old-school than I realize (which I just may be!), but I firmly believe the sermon ought to be the focal point of the Christian worship service: bringing the Word of God (Scripture) to the people of God to call them to live righteous, humble, godly lives.  I don’t think it’s wrong or bad for there to be worship songs that you would only use for “special” worship services occasionally, but this was just one of my thoughts from the night I thought I’d share.

6.  Revival in New England is on more peoples hearts than I realize. To my knowledge, every nation-wide revival in America has roots  in New England.  I don’t want to be a “crazy” Christian… but I really am praying that God would do a might work in our nation through the least likely place (Boston!).