“When justice is done, it is joy to the righteous” (Proverbs 21:15a-b). Not only is justice a calling for us as Christians, but practicing justice brings us joy and understanding so that we might better live as Christ in the world. That was the theme for our recent Youth Mission Trip with CROSS Missions out of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On our first day we journeyed on an urban walk through uptown Charlotte, learning and discussing together what it might be like to experience homelessness in that city. After our walk we went to the North Carolina Diaper Bank, a non-profit organization that provides access to basic necessities to support the dignity, health and quality of life for families in North Carolina.
There we learned how “public safety net programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as food stamps) do not cover the purchase of diapers, often leaving families with a difficult decision between buying diapers and other necessities with their limited funds.” To learn more about this organization’s important work, visit https://ncdiaperbank.org/. While there, we wrapped loads of diapers into boxes and bins on pallets.
The next day we worked at Samaritan’s Feet, a fantastic organization that works to give shoes to people worldwide. We sorted shoes by size and by right and left. We learned together how shoes can “prevent infections, protect from diseases, provide economic and educational opportunities, and propel individuals to pursue their dreams” (www.samaritansfeet.org).
On Wednesday we worked with children at Bell Xcel, helping them with classwork and supporting their educational goals (www.bellxcel.org). After our time with the students, we visited the Innovation Barn
(https://www.envisioncharlotte.com/innovation-barn/). During our time there we sorted plastic waste so the organization could transform the clean No. 5 plastic products into something new, for example, 3D printing filament or plastic bricks for buildings. We also helped weave discarded T-shirts into sound-absorbing pads. And lastly, we toured the Barn’s impressive circular economy facility, which includes an aquaponics lab that grows tilapia and vegetables, black soldier fly compost, and a glass recycling operation.
For our last day, we served with SHC Lawn Mowing, a supportive housing initiative, cleaning up the yards of two families who were unable to maintain their lawns due to personal hardship. And for our last job, we worked with Crisis Assistance Ministry, which seeks to provide “assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency… inspiring our communities to justice and generosity as we provide help, hope, and understanding to people struggling with limited financial resources” (https://crisisassistance.org/). While there we worked in the warehouse, sorting and hanging clothes for their clothing closet.
At night we worshipped together with other groups, delving into the theme of joyful justice, discussing how and why we seek justice in the world as followers of Jesus. All in all, we had a phenomenal week serving together. I’m grateful to the organizations that allowed us to participate in this holy work of bringing justice, particularly CROSS Mission for hosting us
It was an incredible time of learning, serving, and fellowship, and we are so thankful that BMPC could send us on such a great experience!
Follow us on Instagram to see more pictures of the week @bmpc_youth!