On July 15 2018 at 6:00 AM I was among four adult leaders who loaded up two vans with teenagers to drive to Dallas Texas for a mission trip. Prior to this mission trip I ask myself on several occasions what I was thinking when I made the decision to take our youth to inner city Dallas. I had some serious doubts about my decision. Now it was time for us to depart. Regardless of how I felt we were going to Dallas. By 6:30 AM we had the vans loaded, we said a prayer with the people who gather to see us off, and we were on the road. At 4:00 PM we had arrived in South Dallas. The temperature was 103°, that would be the lowest high temperature that we will experience the entire time that we were there. The coolest that it would get at night would be 81 degrees. The house that we stayed in was well kept by the church that owned it, however; we were in one of the poorer neighborhoods. The first evening we were introduced to women who were engaging in prostitution, some people who had obvious mental illnesses, and homelessness.
The next morning at 6:00 AM two of the leaders and myself sat outside and watch the sunrise. We also saw many of the same women that we had seen the evening before working the streets that morning. One of the women was so high that she could barely walk. That evening we went on a prayer walk in the neighborhood and these women that we had seen selling themselves that morning and evening before, became more than just prostitutes to us, they became people. Many of them were living under the highway bridge just one block from where we were staying. We saw the woman who that morning was so high that she could barely walk. I watched as one of our youth walked up to her sat down in front of her, took her hands and began to pray for her. I watched as another one of our youth sensing that a homeless man needed prayer took his hand and prayed for him, still another youth asked if they could go back to the house to get water to hand out to people so that they might have something to drink in the heat. One man was so overcome by the generosity of the water that he started praying and thanking God right then. None of these acts of love and kindness were prompted by the leaders, in fact the leaders we’re more concerned with the safety of the youth then we were with the ministry, but the youth stepped up and they allow for God to use them.
During our five days in Dallas we had an opportunity to work at eight different ministry sites. We had an opportunity to attend two very different worship services. One of the Food Banks that we worked at served over 1000 people a day. They did this with no Federal assistance and on a budget of just over $100,000 a year. Most of the work was outside in the sweltering Dallas heat and not one time did any of our youth complain, and it was hard to get them to come in and take breaks.
Every day at the end of the day we would go through a debrief, where we would discuss what we thought were the highlights and the disappointments of the day. On the second day as we were going through the debrief and as the youth were talking about the highlights and disappointments they stated that one of the disappointments was that they felt that on that particular day they did not work hard enough. These 14 to 19 year old youth had been working in the sweltering heat and their biggest disappointment was that they felt that they didn’t work hard enough that day.
One of our ministry sites was an apartment complex where we did a vacation bible school for the children who lived within the complex. This complex was in a rough section of town, in fact when we arrive at the site there were two ambulances and a police car present. It also turned out that in the last month there had been two people murdered at that location. The youth decided that for the short period of time that they were there these children were going to have a good time. They knew that they could not take the children out of that environment, but they but could show them the love of Christ while they were in their presence.
I was blessed to see a lot of growth in everyone who attended this mission trip. There was growth in our youth but there was also growth in the leaders. I also had an opportunity to see that many of our youth were a lot more mature in Christ than I thought that they were. One of our youth sensing the call of Jesus in her life accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She was baptized a week after our return. Before this mission trip I was wondering if I had made a mistake taking a group of teenagers to Dallas, now as I reflect on the trip I realize that it was the will of God that this group of people travel on this mission trip together.
Urban Plunge was the organization that organize the mission trip for us. I want to thank them for putting together a fine mission experience for us. I want to give a special thanks to our guide during our time in Dallas, Ms. Dee. Ms. Dee worked with us, cared for us, and kept us safe. She was truly a joy to work with. The title of this article is, Was it worth it? My friends I can say without a doubt the answer is yes it was worth it.