Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mission Austin

Last semester the Forge was assigned to plan and execute their own evangelistic mission trip for this February. A few weeks ago we finished the task with a trip down to Austin, TX. We started out in the St. John's Neighborhood, one of the poorest in Austin, with a 5th Quarter event at Reagan High School. RHS has recently started an FCA program, and so we helped jump-start their name on campus with this event. We played basketball, volleyball, had root Beer floats, and most importantly, heard the gospel. Stephen, one of the Forge students, shared his testimony that was similar to where a lot of the students were coming from. The FCA sponsors were amazed that he had 70 Reagan students sit still and listen to this white kid from Tyler share his story.
The next day was Saturday and we spent the day in Zilker Park walking around, talking to people, and sharing the gospel. I went with John and we talked to a Jewish guy and a girl who grew up methodist, but was no longer following the Lord. We got to have a really good apologetics discussion.
Sunday morning we went to Church Under the Bridge, hosted my Mission Possible. It's a ministry to the homeless that provides a church service, food, clothing and other supplies every Sunday. It's acutally held underneath an overpass, hence the name.
We also got to partner with Apartment Life Ministries. It's a married couple or a team of two people who live in an apartment complex, with no rent, and in exchange they plan community events and invest in the lives of the residents (almost like R.A.'s in college). In the morning we helped them pass out muffins and juice to residents hurrying off to work and in the evening we mingled with them over a baked potato dinner. I really connected with some of the residents and saw myself doing a ministry like this in the future.
Finally, we partnered with Hill Country Bible Church. They have 14 church plants in Austin, and have a vision of reaching all of Austin in the near future. We teamed up with some church planters and did survey work in communities where churches were in the preliminary stages. I really enjoy learning about how a church plant works, especially that they go out and build up the church by evangelizing the community (they don't want people just switch churches, they want more people to know Christ!).
It was a really neat trip, and I definitely learned a lot. I don't see myself being involved in most of what we did, but it was cool to see how God had brought us to Austin to give a lot of the Forge students a heart for the city. Over half of the students have been considering moving there post-Forge and becoming a missional community, possibly partnering with a new church plant. What a cool way to see the Forge community last long after the program has ended!
Until next time, grace and peace.