We are back in Greenville now, and what a trip it has been! Here is a recap of the evening of Day 7, as well as Days 8 and 9
Day 7: It was a rainy day, so we had the football camp inside of the church. It was really a lot of fun though. We didn't have quite the turnout since the location had changed, but there were still around 40 kids there. After the camp, some people in the church made us a Puerto Rican dinner. It was great. Then we hung around the church for the evening for the Teen Bible study. After that it was off to the Art Museum front steps, more commonly known as "The Rocky Steps".
After several trips up and down the steps, fists pumping in the air upon reaching the top, we had a time of worship and reflection looking out over the city. It was a very memorable experience.
Day 8: This day was almost too much to take in. In the morning we went into downtown Philly and saw; Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, First Bank of America, and much more. We hurried to the park after our sightseeing and had our last day of football camp. We signed more autographs than the Dallas Cowboys on our way out. It was sad to go, many of the kids were upset, and some tears were shed. They all were begging us to come back, and I really hope that we can again next year.
Then it was time for Coach Hehman's surprise he had planned for us. He announced that we were going to New York City for the night! We were all so excited because none of us had ever been to the Big Apple. It was about an hour and a half ride into Jersey City, New Jersey, where we rode a subway to New York. We were greeted right away with that notorious New York charm by some subway security "AYE! Yous guys! Yous betta put dat camera away or I'll throw ya (butt) in jail! Ya I'm tawwkin to you!!" I should have known that cameras aren't allowed in subways since it was so clearly posted with no signs anywhere, and the Greenville Subways don't allow cameras either so why did I think New York would be any different. My bad.
Our first stop was Ground Zero. It was chilling to think about what it must have been like to be there on Sept. 11th. They are beginning construction on Freedom Tower, which is being built in the place of the Twin Towers.
Next we walked down Broadway, saw Wall Street, Trinity Church, and the Bull Statue. Then we arrived a Battery Park, which is at the bottom tip of Manhattan. We boarded the Staten Island ferry so we could drive past the statue of Liberty. It was already past midnight so we unfortunately could not go to Ellis Island. Once we returned we took a subway to Times Square.
Times Square is unbelievable. Seeing it on TV doesn't do it justice. It was so bright! Everything was lit up and so much was going on at once. It was almost too much to take in.
Coach Hehman let us go off and do some exploring. Some people saw Madison Square Garden, and others saw Central Park. The group I was with went to Rockefeller Center. It was really cool. The ice skating rink was closed, but that didn't stop Zach Friedrich, Kaeo, and Jordan Mac from jumping the fence and making a memory.
Around 4 am we got back on the subway into Jersey. Then back on the bus for Philly. When we got back to Philly, we packed up and began the 14 hour drive home.
Day 9: Rode the bus all day to Greenville. Boring.
This trip was such a worthwhile experience. 25 guys from Greenville College came into a city of millions and made an impact. We couldn't have done any of it without the support and prayers from all of you. We are so thankful for the work that God did through us on the streets of Kensington Ave, in Needles Park, and in the lives of the people we met.
To God be the Glory, great things He has done!
Check back next week for a video compilation of our trip. And thanks for reading.
Day 7: Thanks to the Rocket Cat Cafe, I am able to come to post an unprecedented two days in a row!
Recap of Day 6; We had another day of football camp. It was another beautiful day outside, and it was really fun. We had another big turnout, and it is fun to recognize so many kids, but still see so many new kids as well.
After camp and a quick dinner (Pizza and Mt. Dew, AMEN!) we returned to the same place we had our hot dog dinner, for a homeless coffee house. We had coffee and cake ready for anyone who was interested, and live entertainment was provided by a few of the Greenville team.
Travis Wheat (lead singer of 8 Second Ride) proved some country tunes that the listeners seemed to really enjoy. After that, Ray Toliver and Alex "Bama" Holmes changed it up a little bit with some Philly inspired freestyles. Then DJ David Butler got the crowd on their feet with The Cha Cha Slide, The Macarena, and many others. Even Coach Hehman attempted to dance. Heavy emphasis on attempted.
It was a great time and we had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people and continue to build on the relationships we were making, and show them the love of Christ.
After that we came back to the church for a time of prayer and worship. When it ended, we all thought we were going to shower and go to bed, but Trish our group leader had a surprise for us. She told us that we would be able to sleep in Thursday morning until 10am. The crowd went wild. But there was a catch. We were not going to bed, but we were going back out to the streets to continue to minister to the people of the area. She said "I know you guys are drained, and you feel that you have nothing left to give. That is exactly where you need to be. That is when the Spirit can work best through you, when you feel that you have nothing left to give."
Most of us walked down to Needles Park, as we were expecting to find many users in the park. When we got to the park, it was empty. Not a single person in the park. The park where we were told each night is littered with people selling and using drugs. But the park was empty. It was really encouraging to see that, and we really felt that we were making an impact on the area.
We all made it back at around 2am very thankful for our ability to sleep in.
When I woke up this morning I had a voicemail from Doug Shimel from NBC News in Philly. He is interested in doing a story on us. We have been talking to him this morning and hopefully something will work out and he could do a story on what is going on here. Pray that it works out.
Today we are doing another day of camp. It might rain, and if it does we will be having camp in Cornerstone Community Church. That will be interesting with 80 kids and 25 players... Pray for sun.
This evening we are going to hang out at the teen bible study at Cornerstone. It will be a good time to hang out with some more kids from the community and get to know them. After that we are going to do worship at "The Rocky Steps", the front steps of the Philly Art Museum made famous in the Rocky movies. That will be sweet. We will run them several times I'm sure.
Until the next post, pray for energy as we are in the last stretch.
Day 4: We had our first day of football camp at the park. We had around 30 kids show up. It was an awesome first day. The kids were so glad to have a place to play and be kids. It was kind of a surreal feeling because we could see the kids running and playing and smiling, and not 100 feet away there were drug deals going on, and people shooting up. It was unbelievable. But when we were playing with the kids, it was like all the pain and sadness of the area disappeared. It was just a park and they were just kids, even if it was only for 2 hours.
My favorite memory of the first day was during a running back drill. The kids were running around with Antwan and Bama, and I see this little kid come running towards us. He was a 2 year old named Elias. He walked to the park with his 6 year old brother. His brother ran off to play, and little Elias was on his own. I gave him a ball and let him run around with it and throw it. He kept falling down, but he would get right back up and keep running. I had so many emotions while I played with Elias. First, I was saddened by the fact that his parent would let a 2 year old and a 6 year old just go off on their own in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. But I was also so glad that we had cleaned up the park, even if it was just for him. With the amount of syringes we found in the park, along with glass, and even knives that we found, he would have surely hurt himself or even became infected by one of the needles if he would have came to play just a day before. Giving Elias a place to play made the whole day worth it to me.
In the morning we went on a prayer walk down Kensington Ave. We walked around and talked to the homeless, the drug dealers, and the prostitutes around the area. We offered prayer, a helping hand, and an ear to listen to their stories. It was a very powerful time and I believe alot of people were positively affected. We invited everyone to a coffee house we are having a Wednesday night as well, and we hope for a big turnout
In the afternoon we returned to Needles Park for day 2 of our camp. Many more kids showed up today, majority of which were children that just walked in from the neighborhood. We had around 80 kids at the high point, and it was very interesting.
The kids seemed very rowdy today. We had to pray for extra patience with some kids. Many kids don't get the attention they crave at home, so when they are with us they act out to get our attention. One little guy, Nathaniel, enjoyed kicking me in the shins as hard as he could.
But it was still a great day. My favorite memory of this day was at the end of the day. Scott and I were saying bye to the kids. One little guy, Terrell, ran up to us and asked if he could come home with us. We told him sorry he couldn't, but he could come back tomorrow and see us. As we were walking away he said "Today is my birthday." We came up to him and hugged him and told him Happy Birthday. He was turning 7. He then asked us if we had gotten him a present. I told him we all had something special for him. I gathered up the guys, and we put him on Travis' shoulders, and we sang him the EMAP birthday song. We jumped, and clapped and sang, and he just smiled so big. I wanted to cry, because I doubt anyone had every done anything for his birthday, or sang to him. Terrell's mini-birthday party made it getting kicked in the shins all day worth it, and I would do it again in a second.
This morning our task was to pray and seek what God wanted us to do that morning. Many guys felt that they should do different things. Several guys returned to the park to clean up, as it is a daily task to clean up the remains of the drug users. Others went to the streets to talk and pray with people again. I felt that God was calling me to make it known the things that were happening in our area to the city and even beyond. I contacted all the local media outlets, as well as The New York Times, ESPN, CNN, and many others. I really hope our story gets picked up, because I want to first and foremost make Christ's name known and show the incredible things he is doing in this area, as well as show some positive news coming from (what locals call) "The Badlands".
As always, continue to pray for our ministry, as well as energy as the days begin to get longer. I will write again as soon as possible.
Hey everyone! This is Jered Schneider and I will be your blogger for the week.
We arrived at Faith Community Church at around 11pm, and there was indeed chili waiting for us cortesy of Coach Lehman's parents. After all of the fast food that was taken in, along with the chili, many of the guys decided the best way to let all of that digest was to play some basketball. Seriously. Several upset stomachs resulted.
On Friday, March 13th, 19 Greenville Panthers will be heading to Philadelphia for spring break. But this isn't your average spring break. This group is going to Philadelphia to serve those less fortunate.
The Panthers will be participating in several different service projects during the week. There will be construction/demolition work, homeless outreach, street ministry, and the Panthers will host a football camp for area youth.
Special thanks to all of the people who donated and made this trip possible, we couldn't have done it without you. Keep us in your prayers as we travel, that we serve humbly and willingly, and that we may grow from this experience too.
Stay tuned to Panther Blog each for daily updates as we go about our trip!
Check back tomorrow for our first post from the road.
Is. 58:10. "And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."