This week we welcome Washington and Lee University RUF from Virginia! We are excited to have them here with us all week. Here is the first blog entry from them for the week. Check back later today for work project updates from the spring season of Bridge Builders!!
I never would have believed that avoiding tiny fiberglass missiles equipped with powerful eye-seeking technology and then spending my afternoon amongst the homeless would be more memorable and enjoyable than walking the ‘best’ streets in downtown Chicago. But, today, Monday April 15, 2012, my first ‘work’ day with Sunshine Gospel Ministries, opened my eyes. I am a college sophomore from Washington and Lee University and I have never seen God at work like I saw today at Living Hope Church, but especially at Pacific Garden Missionary.
Our work at Live Hope to renovate the broken-down, former pool hall into a church worthy of God’s glory was split amongst about five different teams. I had the fun task of insulating areas of the building that the previous workers had mistakenly left bare. The task was challenging and keeping the itchy fiberglass particles out of your eyes, mouth, hair, and skin was a constant battle. Despite the difficult work, the vision of our leader, Brad, was inspiring. Here was a run-down building in an impoverished neighborhood that had not been lived in for five years and had a ceiling as ineffective at keeping rain out as Lehman Brothers is at staying in business, yet Brad saw greatness. His undying determination to transform this ugliest of ugly duckling buildings into a swan of a church was inspiring. Everything, from financial woes, to contractor and inspector disagreements, to break-in robberies, was set against him. Brad’s faith in God is keeping him charging and I was honored to help him carry his cross.
As impressive as Living Hope Church was, Pacific Garden Missionary is something that changed my life. A privately funded homeless rescue mission in a $30 million facility that has never turned away a man, woman, or child seeking God’s salvation in 134 years is mind-blowing for me. I have seen shelters, food banks, and rescue missions before, but never before have I seen such a large-scale, effective, and remarkably efficient illustration of God’s grace. Sure as I am the sun will rise, I am sure this remarkable organization will continue to improve the lives of millions of homeless people around Chicago for decades to come. I have never seen such an enormous display of God’s work in our world before, and I am forever changed because of it.
As a Business Administration and Economics dual-major, my classmates are almost entirely focused on becoming the tycoon on Michigan Street in downtown Chicago. If there is anything I can take away from my experiences today, it is that the life of an individual like Brad or the great workers at PGM who devote their work to God will be infinitely more rewarding than the money-worshipping tycoon on Michigan Street. I truly thank Sunshine Gospel Ministries for allowing me to experience these wonders today, and I look forward to ‘working’ for the remainder of my week in Chicago.