We started today bright and early with a hot breakfast at the hotel and then met in our small groups for a devotion time. We read and discussed Galatians 5:13 which says "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." Each group spent time talking about the ways we could serve the people we met today and then prayed for all the people who would hear us sing.
Our first stop of the day was at Great Circle Children's Center. Great Circle is an organization that offers a wide variety of behavioral health services to children and families all over Missouri. Some of the children we sang for are residents at Great Circle and others spend the day there and go back to their homes each night. We sang for a small group of children and their teachers, and they were very attentive! The children especially loved it when Jordan Brown read from a Bible story book before we started our art projects with them. We couldn't take pictures of the children's faces for security reasons, but I will never forget their smiles as they worked with our students on a sand art project! Some of them couldn't believe they were going to get to take it home! Our students wrote things like "Jesus Loves You" and "You are special to Jesus" on the bottles to help them remember our message.
After eating our sack lunches at the children's center, John surprised the group with a trip to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard! I've never seen ice cream disappear so fast in my life!
Our next concert was at the Sunshine Senior Living Center where the choir also sang a few patriotic songs to honor the veterans there. As we sang, more and more people made their way into the dining room to hear us! Many of the residents sang along and one sweet lady raised her hands to worship with us! Our students then got to visit with the residents as they made sand art bottles for them to take back to their rooms. It was so inspiring to watch our middle schoolers live out Galatians 5:13 as they humbly served and patiently answered the residents' same questions over and over with smiles on their faces.
The students will all agree that the most memorable experience of the day happened after our dinner at Cracker Barrel. We stopped by Little Caesars where we purchased 25 pepperoni pizzas. The students wrote Bible verses and messages about God's love on the boxes as we drove downtown. It didn't take us long at all to find a parking lot where some people were huddled against a nearby building and another was looking through a dumpster. As soon as we got out of our vans to give those few people a pizza, more and more people came from around the corner and in no time at all every pizza was gone! We also had an extra case of water that we didn't end up needing at lunch since the children's center provided sodas for us. God must have known that the people would be just as excited about clean, fresh water as they were about the pizzas! I was able to pray with a lady named Ella who was concerned for her safety living on the streets and other members of our group prayed with a man who was desperately hoping to be reconciled with his family. As it was time to leave, even more people and some children were coming down the street and we watched as the people we had first given the pizzas to shared freely with them. Seeing those hungry people share the food they had just been given had an amazing impact on our students!
Tomorrow promises to be just as busy as today was and we are praying God will continue to give us opportunities to be salt and light in St. Louis!