San Francisco City Impact Missions Trip
June 24th – 29th
A St. Andrew’s team spent the last week of June up in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco serving alongside our ministry partner, City Impact. We joined with three other churches from northern California, Oregon, and Washington. This is a bi-annual trip that we make, except this was a new experience to spend most of a week loving on and being loved by the 37,000 residents and 6,000 homeless that reside within less than a square mile that makes up the Tenderloin.
We spent time praying, talking, preparing, sorting and distributing food, but it’s all about relationships and Jesus. We are changed by this experience. Let the following experiences and encounters of St. Andrew’s members explain this better.
Marie Chichester shared: “I was blessed over and over again serving alongside hundreds of staff and volunteers that minister to a population of people that are invisible to most of us (or we wish they were invisible), but God sees each and every one of us as one of His children, no different than you and me. It wasn’t easy for me, but watching the youth who never hesitated to serve, pray and hug the homeless gave me confidence to minister to my neighbors in the Tenderloin District also. It was exhausting but so fulfilling! Each day I’d pray, Lord let me see those I meet today with your eyes…and let me love on them as you would.
“One of the youngest gentlemen I met, Keith, who appeared to only be in his early 20’s, sat down at the BBQ we were having and shared that he was at the end of his rope. I am sure he was an active drug user and he shared his family didn’t care about him anymore, so he had made his way to San Francisco from another state and was currently living on the streets in the Tenderloin District. He was scared! He had lost his ID and only had a small backpack with him. I was able to pray with him and direct him to services provided by City Impact. I had no idea if he would go and get help, but the next day while I was working in the Rescue Mission ministry part of City Impact that has a social worker and people who know how to obtain an ID…In walks Keith! I gave him food and coffee and a big hug! He smiled from ear to ear…I believe God allowed Keith and me that moment…I got to witness the impact of a ministry that has responded to God’s call. As it says in Luke 10:27 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
Linda Beach shares some experiences she had: “I will remember the people who I was honored to hear their stories. Sid stands out to me; he had his identity hijacked and had the false belief that he was going to hell because he rebelled against God. He had a hard time believing God was Love. He let me pray truth over him and tell him he was a dearly loved child of God. God created him and knew him. God has a plan and a purpose for his life.
“Molly who is 99 years young lived through the Cultural Revolution in China yet her husband did not. She is a cancer survivor. She taught herself English and taught herself how to quilt at the age of 80 and then taught herself how to paint at 90.”
Joan Brown, a Deacon at St. Andrew’s expressed her experiences this way: “We all would like to think that we are compassionate and caring in our everyday lives, and most of us are… within our small spheres. After spending time with City Impact in San Francisco, I feel that God is calling each of us to expand the reach of our compassion and love for our neighbors, whoever and wherever they are. I came into the trip not quite sure how I would feel or react to all of the homelessness in the Tenderloin and I left the Tenderloin after seeing God’s grace and love expressed in all of the faces that we met and ministered with during the week.
“As usual with mission trips, I felt I received much more than I gave. I was blessed to have met some of the most interesting and kind people who stopped by the mission to have breakfast, a burger or simply share some conversation. While their stories were often unbelievably sad and in some cases horrific, I found that they often showed a calm resolve and dignity in their situations. They were all happy to share a brief respite with a stranger and take time to praise God for the good that they did have in their day to day lives and to be able to tell their stories. I was truly blessed to have met each and every one of them.
“There was a kind and gentle man who stopped to chat who had just been released from San Quentin after serving 18 years for second degree murder but was now committed to changing his life and being an example to others through running marathons and good works.
“I saw generosity from the old shut-ins we visited who presented us with a rose, a gallant kiss of the hand or what they could spare for others. Some offered two jugs of juice that perhaps someone in need could use if we could pass them along or with the penny earnestly given as an offering after worship services. I saw beauty and God’s grace in all of the faces of the Tenderloin.”
All of us desperately need someone to hear our stories and be told we matter. We crave to be seen, heard and listened to and know we are not forgotten, even in plain sight. God does love each of us.
We are each changed and more compassionate to the brokenness that we all share in the human state. Some of us may hide the cracks and hurts or learn to wear less revealing masks, but we all need Jesus and his saving reckless grace.
Consider how God wants you to be open to serve your neighbors whether they are here or far. City Impact is a great place to learn to be bold and share compassion while learning the great need we each have. The service we give is small and we receive so much more than we give.
Look for our next City Impact weekend trip that will be planned for early November.