Reflecting on Chicago

Students share their thoughts on the Chicago work team trip with the DOOR Network:

"Within just a few minutes of being in Chicago, our group witnessed God working in the city through the kindness of a stranger. Our somewhat disoriented group was trying to figure out the way to the exit, and a lady pointed us in the right direction without prompt, without question. It was so simple an act, but it will remain imprinted in my mind as a concrete example of God’s presence in the city. In a world so full of evil and strife, it is easy to sometimes forget God’s ultimate omnipresence and omnipotence. He has the ultimate hand in everything, however, and He spent time showing our team this through the goodness of the people we met in Chicago. He told us a new story of urban life that completely changed my perspective of cities in general. Cities are full of more than just intimidating high-rises and hasty passers by; there were shimmers of God’s love and power wherever we looked. And I realized that seeking and finding God’s presence surely cannot be unique to Chicago alone. I need to view every setting through the lens of Jesus’ love to see how God is working there. God showed me how to truly see!" - Alex Stewart, sophomore

"This past week in Chicago was one of the most amazing ever! God’s love was there when we got there, and it was awesome to see Big Wesley Love interacting with and supporting this Chicago Love. Our team of 13 met two wonderful women, Krista and Andrea, who helped guide us through the week of outreach and reflection. We did everything from cooking meals, breaking up toys to be recycled, to visiting with elderly people at an Adult Day Care Center. There was much fun, food, and fellowship, but the things that stick out to me the most from this week were the faces of friends. I was surrounded by the faces of Jared, Brittaney, Locke, Gabby, Brent, Emily T., Alex, Kylie, Erin, Becky, Kat, and Bock. They were a group of supporting, laughing, inquisitive, humble, open-minded, and loving individuals. We all learned that there is more to cities than most people realize, that everyone has their own story, that God is everywhere, if we just would open our hearts, minds, and eyes to notice His love." - Emily Hinshaw, senior

"DOOR Chicago was not what I first expected in an inter-city mission trip and I’m glad it wasn’t. Throughout the week I discovered countless ways my initial perceptions and stereotypes of the city and its people had been wrong. This trip helped me to see the beauty of community and the strength of fellowship with those I served and especially with those whom I served alongside. I am grateful God called me to be a part of this mission for so many reasons and I look forward to using my experience to help others grow and understand as well. From cooking, carrying, cleaning, and recycling, to laughing, playing, and exploring. Every adventure, whether in direct service or simply in observance of people and place, helped me grow in my understanding and respect for the guests and clients, the staff at DOOR and the places I served, and the fellow brothers and sisters I have in Wesley." - Locke Revels, first-year

"Chicago was such an amazing experience. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was that I truly felt like we became part of the city. We used mass transit (trains and buses), which allowed us to see so many different kinds of places and people. Everywhere we volunteered we met other volunteers and staff members who radiated positivity and love for their organization, their city, and other people. Most often when a person travels to a city, they only see the wealthy, touristy areas. I loved that we were able to take in and experience so many different neighborhoods, each with their own unique qualities, as well as the diverse and friendly people who inhabited them. We even stayed in the same church where Martin Luther King, Jr. had an office! How cool is that?? Throughout the week we were really shown that everyone has their own very important story, and the city of Chicago was just the perfect setting.” - Kylie Piper, sophomore

Many of us have dropped food into a box at a canned food drive, clothes into a bin when we were finished, and food into a to go box to hand out on the street. Before our trip to Chicago, I had done all of those things without thinking about what happened next. In Chicago, we learned and experienced what happened next- how cooks at a Salvation Army decide how to use the cans and cans and cans of food that come in after the holidays or how clothes are recycled. We met the people who share stories of God’s love in their lives and so much appreciation for the help given to them. We experienced the hospitality of leaders we volunteered with and learned from. We lived in a church in a humble neighborhood where the assets are the people, not the shops and shiny things. We were challenged to share the love of Christ in the way of Christ and witnessed people doing just that everywhere we went. Chicago has a beautiful skyline, but beyond that are beautiful people and incredible stories.” - Gabby McHarg, sophomore

On this mission trip I saw the face of God in the city of Chicago.  I saw it in the disadvantaged individuals I met, in the DOOR employees who planned our entire week, in the people I met on the trains, and also in my fellow Wesley students.  Our mission, if you want to call it that, was to learn from this experience and share God’s love wherever it could be used.  And for my team of 4, we shared the love of Christ all over the city.  We served at the Salvation Army’s family shelter, a bus called the Night Ministry that pulls up in neighborhoods and offers free food and medical services, a dinner ministry called Breaking Bread, an environmental group called the Gaia Movement, and at an AIDS/HIV food pantry called Vital Bridges.  I was touched by the kind people I met in the city, and especially so by how people came together despite the barriers that society placed between them.  Truly God and his commandments to love can overcome the barriers of race, income difference, ethnicity, and different backgrounds!” - Jared Dix, senior

Posted on January 6, 2014 .