This week our middle school students took the Urban Plunge into the Youth Initiative program at Broad Street Ministry (BSM) in Philadelphia. There we took part in new and different worship services, discussions about poverty, racism, and the bible, and experienced many different work sites where we served in diverse ways.
A major highlight of our time there was Breaking Bread, the meal served to those in need at BSM. We had the opportunity to serve the meal and sit in communion with the guests. “I loved Breaking Bread because I got to meet many people and learn life lessons,” wrote one youth.
Other sites we visited were Philabundance, Aspen Garden, the Church of the Advocate, and St. James School. One youth said, “I loved weeding at Church of the Advocate because it was fun and helpful.” Another youth said, “I felt challenged pulling weeds at work sites, because I was tired and hot, but I kept working so I could help sustain new plants.”
We learned so much this week ‑ about God, about our city, and about ourselves. “I learned that life isn’t always perfect, that one wrong day or decision can lead to a not-so-perfect life,” said a youth.
We were disappointed to see the poverty in our own city, but we saw firsthand that we are capable of helping through service to those in need. The most valuable lesson our youth learned was that “we all deserve to treated and seen as equals, just as we are in God’s eyes.” We plan to continue to share the work of God through service in our own community and by telling others about our time there.
Nightly worship was a huge hit with our teens, with one boy saying, “I liked that I could connect with God after we served all day.” A large piece of worship at Broad Street Ministry was the music, which included a mix of classic hymns and psalms and contemporary hits from Bob Marley and Alabama Shakes.
Our time at Broad Street Minsitry was eye-opening and exhausting, but we left with a new fire to make a change, just as Michael Jackson tells us in “Man in the Mirror,” our favorite worship jam. After discussing the parable of the vineyard all week, we can safely say the Kingdom of God is like… Broad Street Ministry. A place that is welcoming to all who wish to listen and be served. A haven for the hungry, the tired, the poor, the outcast. A beautiful home to everyone, who are all equal in the eyes of God.