Today was our first day of ministry work. Each of the 6 teams went two places, one in the morning before lunch and one in the afternoon after lunch. My team had the opportunity to spend some time under a bridge that is known for sheltering homeless people this morning. We arrived with a cooler of bottled water, set out in groups, and simply handed out water and made conversation with the people beneath the bridge. I was privileged to talk with a man named Walter. He lost everything he had in Hurricane Katrina and had been turned down from relief housing agencies numerous times. Soon after introducing ourselves, Walter began to speak about his faith and what he had seen in New Orleans in relation to it. But what was really surprising to learn was how well he knew the Bible. He borrowed a Bible one of us had with us and pointed out many passages to support what he was sharing with us. Many of my teammates shared similar experiences: most of the people that were willing to talk under the bridge (and many of them were) knew Christ. We left the site with mixed feelings though. While we were encouraged that many knew Christ, we felt discouraged by their stories of how they have been taken advantage of and seemingly abandoned. We have faith, though, that God used what little time and bottles of water we had to make a difference.
Our second ministry experience today was prayer-walking in a New Orleans neighborhood named Treme. For those of you familiar with Flower City Work Camp, you are familiar with prayer walks, but for those of you who aren’t, a prayer walk is simply a walk in which we intentionally set out to prayerfully address the needs of the community and people we see. It was very encouraging that many people were willing to pray with us and that they seemed so open and friendly. Some did respectfully decline, but we prayed for them anyways. We prayed with one man who as texting on his porch when we walked up. The man Darrel, was very receptive to us and we prayed with him for family troubles he was having. Another man we spoke with spoke only Spanish, and one of the people I was serving with and stepped up and asked the man if he would like prayer in Spanish. It was incredible to see how the Holy Spirit was working all around and in us. It was also neat to be able to see a little bit of New Orleans along the way. The people here are so unique and unlike any other place I have been. They are welcoming and take a lot of pride in their community and city. Also for our evening meals we will be experiencing a variety of cultural food such as the sausage, beans, and rice dish we had this evening. In all, God had thoroughly blessed us today, and will continue to do so over the rest of the week.
Thank you for your faithful prayers!