Over the summer, our student ministry at ECC did an untraditional version of a mission trip. Given the circumstances and challenges presented in planning longer trips, we felt it best to spread out the trip over a month. Each Thursday and Friday of July, beginning with July 8th and 9th, ECC Students traveled to a larger city in the vicinity of Eaton, OH. The result was four two-day trips to four different cities in four weeks. We called it the Summer Mission Tour. And the results were pretty amazing!
Our task in Indianapolis was to work with an organization called Wheeler Mission who cares for homeless men, women and children and provide meals, shelter, healthcare and opportunities to change their life.
We began on Thursday serving at the Wheeler Mission Store and Donation Center. We separated clothes and home goods – a quick side note here: We threw more away than we saved… if you’re going to give something to a thrift store, please make sure it’s not just trash. It will save the workers a serious amount of time! – We discovered this ministry helps fund much of their ministry, as do donations. Selling one item of clothing provides one meal for a homeless person!
On Friday we were given the pleasure to serve dinner at Wheeler Mission’s Shelter for men. Following that, we held an activity time for the Men’s Residential Shelter where men are trying to get their lives back in order. There was competition, laughter, stories being shared and it was an all-around great time! If you’d like to hear some of the stories, ask a student that went on the trip – I’m sure they’d love to talk to you about it.
One of the goals of these trips was to make each city a different type of serving experience, and Cincinnati was quite the experience! It was our privilege to work with Matthew 25: Ministries. Their whole warehouse was dedicated to taking what was useless to us and making it usable for others. Thus, on both Thursday and Friday we spent 9am-4pm (with a lunch break), pairing shoes and sorting feminine hygiene products.
Yes, you heard me correctly. One would think pairing shoes would be quite simple, because don’t all shoes come in pairs? Well, for Matthew 25: Ministries, they often receive shipments of shoes that don’t come with the other pair! And it was our job to find a shoe that matched it as close as possible, thus providing a wearable pair of shoes that are almost alike.
With the other amount of time, we sorted pallets of feminine hygiene products that were unusable in American stores, but were shipped off and later turned into diapers for 3rd world countries! Through these tedious, yet important tasks, we were able to witness how privileged we are in America, and also find God within the mundane. And as you’ll see below, youth tend to make the mundane a little less mundane.
Our third journey took us not too far down US 35 into Dayton, OH. We worked with a local church, New Hope Church, who does ministry in the Twin Towers district.
We began on Thursday by taking a tour of the whole street block owned by the church, and discovering their heart and passion for the people of their community. Following the tour, we were sent off into the streets and to houses to inviting people to a Family Game Night we were hosting (on behalf of New Hope) at a local park on Friday. Our students, with the help of adult leaders, went door to door inviting hundreds of adults and children to this event. Students were even able to have prayer with some and everywhere they went brought the presence of Jesus along with them.
On Friday, our students and leaders did a spectacular job putting on a carnival (Family Game Night) for close to one hundred people who came to the park. We were able to make connections for these families with New Hope’s pastor, while also providing a free meal (gave away over 150 hotdogs!) and games for the local children. It was quite a successful event!
The last trip to Louisville, KY was led by Pastor Dan as we worked with Love City, a ministry located in the Portland district of the city. This ministry is located in the heart of one of the roughest neighborhoods in Louisville, but what they’re doing is pretty amazing!
Our students were sectioned into different groups and were able to come alongside Love City. Some helped with property cleanup, others worked in one of Love City’s-owned restaurants (money to support the ministry – and feed people), and still others served in the community garden. Students also participated in a children’s neighborhood summer camp held at Love City’s school.
None of this would’ve been made possible if it wasn’t for the support of Eaton Community Church. With the amount of donations given to us, most students were able to attend these trips for free! Through your prayers, care, and money our students were able to be the hands and feet of Jesus, while also learning about different cultures and areas surrounding Eaton, OH. Thank you for partnering with us!