February 24, 2023
Chicago Dream Center Mission Trip 2022 | Update #3
July 30, 2022 | Kathy Smarrella
Our last full day with the Chicago Dream Center (CDC) was today. It began very early. . . Breakfast and worship at 6 am (a great start to the day, despite it being the crack of dawn)!
We headed out early to the New Life Covenant Church (the church connected to the CDC), where our team worked alongside New Life church members to set up for the HopeFest, a huge “block party” for their neighborhood. We set up tables and chairs and tents all over their huge parking lot, preparing the path for guests to get valuable resources, groceries, backpacks, stop by the prayer tent, and then enter the Kid Zone of fun! Many of us ran games, face painted, painted nails and just tried to be friendly and point people to Jesus. It was a great morning and afternoon of bringing joy to others!
Later afternoon, we were able to head back to the thrift store run by the CDC, where every dollar made goes to support international missions. Our team did some shopping—enough to support a small city in Africa, I think! (Just kidding) :) Then we got cleaned up, took a bit of a rest and gathered this evening for Chicago hot dogs and fries, m&ms, and Diet Coke.
After dinner, “Brother Bear”, one of the CDC team members, shared his testimony with us of God’s redemption and movement in his life. It was a powerful story of hope and grace and opportunity to serve the Lord even after we fall away and outside. . . That led us to share our own stories of what God has done in and around us in these few short days. From younger to older, God has shown up to each one—from passing out food in “God’s grocery store”, to a teen praying for a pre-teen about a scary school experience while getting her face painted, to riding shotgun along with men from the church into the "hood" to share the love of Jesus....every one of us had an experience with God that we will take home. And that, hopefully and prayerfully, will change us and give us a stronger desire to serve and love our God.
This team has deeply connected in a very short amount of time—it’s been remarkable to see and experience. Their support of one another, their desire to see each other grow and stretch in Christ, and their laughter (to the point of tears) has made this a joy-filled and meaningful trip. I hope that you will ask them what God has done in their lives these few short days because I am confident they will want to tell you.
Personally, I am leaving with hope. Hope that God does not ever stop pursuing those he loves. And that we have the privilege to join Him in that journey.
Thank you for your prayers for our team! Tomorrow is another early day—but before we leave, we get to join our Chicago brothers & sisters in worship in the morning and that is a delight. And then we’ll see you in the afternoon!