What a week!
We (8 teens and 9 adults) just returned from our mission trip to San Antonio, TX.
Yes, that's right, Texas.
Domestic mission trips may seem strange to some, but it all depends on your perspective and what you're looking to accomplish. 1 thing to remember, statistics show there are more Christians currently in Africa than there are in the USA (chew on that for a minute). Furthermore, the mission (in my mind) is people - reaching the needy, the hopeless, the lost with the LOVE of Jesus Christ through relationships. That, my friend, can (and desperately needs to) be accomplished anywhere.
In San Antonio, one of things we did was spend most of the week at a place called Haven for Hope. Haven for Hope is a 37 acre campus dedicated to serving the homeless in and around San Antonio (and no, that's not a typo - 37 acres!)
I can't call it a 'homeless shelter' because it is so much more! On the 37 acres sits 15 buildings (expanding right now) consisting of over 1/2 a Million square feet under roof. Under those roofs is not one autonomous entity but nearly 80 different non-profits and government partner agencies. On any given night there will be about 900 'semi permanant' residents staying at H4H and an additional 900 or so staying in the overnight shelter; each night Haven For Hope houses between 1500 and 2000 men, women, and children.
Speaking of children, 1 of the most shocking statistics for our group was to hear that the average age of a homeless person in San Antonio (where over 25,000 a year experience homelessness) is 9. 9 years old.
During our stay, sure, we did some of the hard work to help out as best we could (literally moving tons and tons of materials in a warehouse, rearranging 300 new mattresses that came in on shipment, sorting clothes, staging the store, scrubbing baseboards, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, etc. etc. etc.), but that's not what the trip was about.
Our teens (and adults) found people. We sat for hours, talked a little, and listened a lot. We spread the hope of Jesus Christ while receiving more encouragement than we ever imagined. We met kids, moms, dads, grandparents, college students, middle school students, and babies. We listened to their dreams, their goals, their hopes, their fears...we shared ours with them, we prayed, we sang, we hugged, and we smiled. And THAT is needed everywhere, by everyone, and can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere.