I am amazed by the way our ministries’ 110 interns and 225 street leaders (high school kids trained to minister in the neighborhoods where they grew up) toughed it out this summer in inner-cities across North America.
After running day-camps, sports programs, and Bible studies on hot asphalt streets all day long, they found little relief from high temperatures in the crowded, un-air-conditioned rowhouses that served as their dormitories.
For the second year in a row, my granddaughter Miranda was one of those summer interns. When Peggy and I visited her in Camden, New Jersey at the beginning of the summer, we wondered how she and her teammates would be able to handle the heat, let alone all the neighborhood kids knocking on their door at all hours. But they did it! Far from complaining, Miranda told me she and her friends considered sharing God’s love with needy city children a high privilege. Both as a grandfather and as the president of EAPE, that kind of attitude makes me very proud.
Alongside Miranda and her friends were 75 more workers, each of whom gave an entire year to live out their commitment to Christian service. These Mission Year team members carried on the tradition of that life-changing program EAPE established 13 years ago. Mission Year president Leroy Barber sent me this good-bye note from one of them:
Having an entire year to spend investing in people has been HUGE. I don't think many people ever really have that opportunity. THANK YOU for helping to give that chance to me. Your support has meant that children have been remembered and celebrated on their birthdays; they have been tutored, played with, loved and disciplined. Their moms have had a shoulder to cry on, someone willing to wait with their kids and neighbors in hospital waiting rooms. It has meant sweet tea and fried chicken as a regular food staple. It has meant cookouts with neighbors and friends who have become family. It has meant swimming on Sunday afternoons with church folks and babysitting the pastor's boys. It has meant learning to address and resolve conflict in a healthy manner. It has meant learning to live in community and just how selfish and broken I am and how difficult it is to live with other broken people while learning to love each other deeply.
Of course, this kind of enthusiastic, street-level, relational ministry will continue now that summer is over, not only in our inner-cities but also in several places overseas. In Haiti, where our partners passed out 5000 Bibles through their network of churches, distributed 250 donated generators, and completed a pilot program making 200 laptop computers available to 200 emerging leaders, our workers are similarly grateful for their opportunities to serve. As Haiti Partners’ John Engle puts it, “I’m full of hope for the Haitian people, and I love joining with them in rebuilding their lives.”
EAPE’s heroic missionaries are some of the best and brightest of their generation, and your gifts and prayers are what sustain them. Join me in being proud - and don’t let up!
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ABOUT TONY + AUGUST 2010