City Mission volunteers began arriving at the Renovation Church building in Southeast Roanoke. It was late afternoon, December 15th 2012 and time to begin setting up for the Christmas party for our friends from Indian Village! While the presents were being wrapped, the drinks were being poured and the lights were being hung, there was a silent anticipation in the air. This was the first Christmas that City Mission had thrown a party for our neighborhood friends. This time last year we were in a completely different place. The events of the past year started running through my mind.
In September of 2011, City Mission Southeast was just coming together and the team started serving at the Baptist Community Center near 17th Street Baptist Church. We served breakfast to about sixty people every Saturday morning and did a craft and a Bible story for the kids. To celebrate Christmas that year we attended a Christmas play put on by the kids of the BCC. During the eight months that we were able to serve there we grew close to the kids and their families and were excited to have been given the opportunity to do life with them. That spring, God called us to move locations and we were met with yet another blessing.
In May, the City Mission Team purchased an old house on Campbell Avenue in Southeast Roanoke. We served breakfast from the front porch to our neighborhood friends during the summer months and were introduced to even more of our neighbors in Southeast. It was amazing to stand on that property and take in all of God’s blessings. He allowed us to purchase a house and provided us with the means to plant a community garden. With help from the neighborhood kids we planted the garden which grew a ton of vegetables and we were able to bless the neighbors with them once they were harvested. In June, the City Mission volunteers took all of the neighborhood kids on a hike to Roaring Run Falls. This was our first “outing” with the kids and it was so much fun. God once again provided us an opportunity to spend time with the neighborhood kids outside of breakfast and get to know them better. Toward the end of the summer, demolition started on The Campbell House so we relocated to breakfast to Indian Village, a government housing community that houses most of the kids that we have met during our time in Southeast.
Our first Saturday serving in Indian Village brought a lot of joy to our City Missionaries. We knew that the Lord had called us there for a reason and we were eager to find out what it was. Over the past year there we have met so many new friends and have been given countless opportunities to bless others and share the love of Jesus. Standing on the stage of the Renovation Church building before the Christmas party, it was a joy to reflect on the changes that City Mission has been through over the past year and it was a comforting thought to know that the Lord had been present through every single one of those changes.
When the kids arrived and started pouring off the bus the volunteers lined up to greet them and welcome them into the party. Every face we saw was full of joy, excitement and anticipation as they walked through the front doors! After a dance party, crafts and dinner, it was time to listen to the Christmas Story and open presents. The kid’s faces absolutely lit up at the phrase “open presents.” It was such a blessing to us as volunteers to be able to bless others with gifts during the holiday season.
God is using City Mission Roanoke in remarkable ways and it is amazing to look back on the past year and reflect on His blessings and faithfulness. From the Baptist Community Center to Indian Village, these kids and their families have not only become who we are serving but they have become our friends and our neighbors!
Written by Chelsea Charpia