April 17, 2021
VSOM Chicago Dream Center Mission Trip | Update #2
April 15, 2021
By Patrick Holdeman and Laura Sachs
Wow, what an amazing, full day of God’s activity! This morning, we left for New Life Church at 7:30 am where we had breakfast and devotions with the staff, led by Patrick, our fearless outreach leader for the day. Afterwards we helped with their weekly food drive, distributing boxes of groceries in the church parking lot and praying for those who came. We gave out two semi-trailers full of fresh food boxes donated and put together by USDA Farmer’s Families. We loaded up cars up with 2-6 boxes each, as many as we could, for them to use themselves or distribute to their families, friends and neighbors. Afterwards, lunch was provided for us by the church, and we enjoyed fellowship with each other and encouraging stories of our morning activities, sharing about how thankful many of the people were for the gift of food and prayer.
After lunch we divided into two groups; one stayed at New Life and helped with cleanup in their back lot. The second group went to a small school to help with their playground where we pulled weeds and spread 50 bags of mulch. That group ended early and were able to help the group back at New Life finish their project which was more labor intensive than first thought – they filled an entire huge dumpster full of ashen debris. Lots of heavy, dirty lifting!
With all of our work completed efficiently, we were able to head back to our Air BNB to clean up and recharge before our evening plans. We returned to New Life and had another delicious home cooked meal prepared for us – these ladies can cook!
Around 6:30 pm, we divided into two shuttles and began to work with New Life’s program, Bridge to Life, visiting homeless encampments under bridges and around Chicago. We were able to provide a bagged meal and pray for many homeless we encountered. Some were resistant to prayer, but many were open to it. The scene is challenging to describe; varied sizes of tents and simple handmade tents covered by blankets or whatever they could find. The smell of dirt and urine, trash littering the ground. I’m pretty sure I saw a rat scurrying by at one place.
Each group member got the opportunity to pray for someone, and it was a great encouraging and growing experience for many of us. My (Laura) experience tonight included encountering God’s fierce love for these who may feel easily forgotten. Kendrick and Dan had the opportunity to pray for a woman whom our leaders have known for a while (they travel these routes regularly, going out to different areas 5-6 nights a week, so they have relationships with many of these people). This woman has been demon possessed, and tonight she had agreed to prayer. So, the guys were praying for her, along with our Bridge to Life leader Philip. About the same time, unbeknownst to me, God asked me to kneel in prayer to intercede for whatever was happening (we were taking turns, some of us just waiting in the shuttle). At the same time, I knelt down to pray, Caleb saw a vision of a man on fire, knowing that it was a spirit that was trying to stop what God was doing, and he also began to pray. Our leader later reported back that this woman was delivered from the demons who plagued her!! It is just so amazing to see and experience so many of the things we have been learning about this past school year, and how our experiences fit together like a piece of a puzzle, even to bring a woman out of bondage!
One last remarkable thing we all agree on: the staff and volunteers here at New Life are all are so willing and eager to share their testimonies of how there was a remarkable turnaround in their lives. Now they are marked by Christ and live to share the good news of His love. It’s inspiring and beautiful to watch their passion in action.
There is a stirring in my heart; how can we go back to life the same, in our cozy homes with family and friends, when we’ve seen and experienced such depravity and seemingly hopeless situations? And an anticipation building. What’s next?!