We were delighted to have the Cal Baptist University missions team back with us again. They played a critical role and had 1000 food bags ready for distribution at the North Park Festival outreach.
It was a bummer that their demolition project was scrubbed at the last minute. But the alternate ministry activity, service with our ministry partner, Brent Hyden was a great fallback. Brent does youth and community outreach ministry at Covenant Presbyterian Church. He is someone whose life revolves a strong sense of purpose. Brent's passion and enthusiasm for the lost and broken people of our city is infectious. He wears his heart on his sleeve and gave a powerful challenge to the students to find out what their passion is and then live an incarnate lifestyle, loving their neighbors and their community.
After lunch, we spent the afternoon on the streets of City Heights and North Park handing out flyers and inviting people to the North Park Festival. Lots of great connections were made and we handed out about 1500 flyers. Justin, one of the group leaders, was even handing out flyers to people in cars... and even a fire truck. It was a great afternoon and well-spent.
We went back to the church, prepped our homeless food kits, then headed right back out to the streets... this time in downtown San Diego. The interactions we had with folks on the street are always a special and moving experience. That was especially true for the group that I led as we encountered a precious lady named Veronica who did as much ministry for us as we did for her. She was one of those people who can look deep into your eyes, see your hurt, and call it out without ever saying a word. We prayed with her, she prayed with us. I hope that students from the group will add some of their stories to the comments for this blog. It was a great time.
We came back to North Park for dinner at Crazee Burger, one of our new "favorite" places to eat. Brent invited us back in to eat our dinners at Covenant Pres which is right across the street. We were able to bless him and his college staff with burgers before heading out to the beach. The bonfire never happened, but we shared a good time of worship and debriefing on the beach before heading home.
Sunday morning breakfast was our "official" debrief time and the group spent a good hour or so sharing their experiences with each other. It was a delight to listen to story after story. Everyone was challenged or stretched in one way or another. I am always amazed at the way a couple of hours of homeless outreach can transform the perceptions and attitudes of people so powerfully.
Our Sunday AM worship service was completely "off the hook!" Pastor Pete had help from five of the Cal Baptist guys for an illustration about the paraplegic who was lowered through a roof by his friends and healed by Jesus. Worship was incredible.
We gathered briefly so I could share with them some ways they can keep this experience alive and continue to support our ministry here at New Vision. We prayed for Stephanie and Shaun who will be getting married this summer. Stephanie Whiteker has put together the Cal Baptist trips to New Vision for several years. She will be moving on this summer to new adventures with Shaun.
Then our good friends from Cal Baptist had to get back into their vans and head home. But not without signing the wall, a group picture, and one last blessing over these future leaders from a valued ministry partner.