The Florida Team Enjoying Philadelphia
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3-6
Remembrance can make reunion so sweet. Remembering the great things the Lord did in and through Operation Barnabas 2014 is part of what makes the annual ministry reunion so incredible. After praying for and hearing from afar the works of God in these students lives; leaders (and students alike) get to see the work of the Father and experience the echoes of their prayers for one another first hand!
On Friday, October 31, thirty-some Operation Barnabas 2014 alumni set out for the Urban Hope Training Center in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Urban Hope has existed in the Kensington neighborhood for many years now and the Lord has been using it for great purposes in building his Kingdom in the inner city. Urban Hope is no stranger to Operation Barnabas teams, even serving as a stop for the Northeast team this summer.
When students arrived, they got right to what these teams do best; ministry. The alumni from Indiana, Ohio, and parts of Pennsylvania who rode the big blue bus to reunion reunited with their teammates from Pennsylvania who were already a part of a Halloween block party that Urban Hope was hosting for their neighbors.
Afterwards, students got some much needed time to catch up in teams and hear what the Lord has been doing in each of their lives. Reunion can be an intimidating time for some. Some students are coming together after some of the hardest three months they have ever faced spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. While still others have experienced family members accept Jesus, seen friends understand the gospel, and their churches encouraged. The awesome thing about reunion for either of these experiences is that the gospel covers both. Jesus meets all of these students; they are known by the Lord. Each alumnus is equally loved, understood, and sustained by the Father. Operation Barnabas leaders at reunion pray regularly to extend this truth to their students and have an awesome opportunity to put it into action as they hear from each student; encouraging and exhorting them to continue to faithfully pursue the Lord.
But hearing of God’s work at home is only part of reunion. Saturday was another jam-packed day of ministry together. After hearing from Ed Lewis (of Urban Hope and CE National) and Urban Hope staff members, students set out for Reading Terminal Market, the Cambodian section of Philadelphia, Love Park, Independence Hall, the Rocky steps at the Art Museum AND South Street. Tired yet? Not many ministries are able to cover as much in one day as an Operation Barnabas team but each section of Philadelphia provided awesome opportunities to meet spiritual and physical needs of the people that Operation Barnabas team members came in contact with. These alumni shared Jesus with people they met at lunch, while exploring the city, and with homeless men and women they encountered. With the help of Urban Hope students were even able to provide lunches and socks.
All good things must come to an end, however, and after a stop at Sharon Baptist Church for Sunday services, students made their way back to their respective homes. Leaders and the entire staff of CE National are excited and expectant to see God bring the good work that He has started in each of these Operation Barnabas alumni brought to further completion every day!
packing meals for the homeless
Olivia initiating conversation at Reading Terminal Market
NorthEast team at reunion
Jade Palace for iced tea is always a highlight
Impromptu worship time
Florida team in Philly
Emily Sanders with a new friend at the UHTC Fall Fest