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First Lutheran Church’s mission in Chicago

By Staff | Aug 19, 2016

First Lutheran LYO before leaving for their mission trip to Chicago. Back row (left to right): Landen Foster, Anders Johnson, John Mueller, Isaiah Johnson, Dylan Grove. Front row: Karsyn Hager, Anni Stier, Sara Stier, Karin Selland and Leah Johnson.

Youth from First Lutheran Church went on a mission trip to Chicago that was organized by Metigoshe Ministries. The group was in Chicago from Sunday to Thursday afternoon and traveled to various locations throughout the city to do mission work.

At St. Thomas Lutheran Church in South Chicago, the group helped the church prepare for a free meal being offered to the surrounding community. They walked around the community with members of St. Thomas to hang signs and tell people about the meal.

The youth also were part of a video presentation that was played at St. Thomas that introduced the group and showed them discussing important issues in today’s society, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It was good conversation for our kids,” Leah Johnson, LYO Leader, said. “It was good for them to talk about some of those things that they only hear about on the news. They only hear about them through the media, so their opinions are shaped in that way. This was coming from someone who lives it, especially on the south side of Chicago.”

The group also went to Cornerstone, a homeless shelter in North Chicago that serves three meals per day, 365 days per year to homeless in the area. The shelter has a thrift store on the 6th floor of the facility, where temporary residents can receive clothing and other necessary living goods once they have found permanent housing. The mission group helped to clear the shelter’s basement storage area, where donations for the store were piled in bags, and moved the goods to the 6th floor store area. They also helped sort through and bag items that had not been done yet.

At the Native American Cultural Center, they heard about how Native Americans are trying to preserve their culture in an urban setting. “That was little bit more approachable for our kids because they have friends [that are Native American]. That exposure is pretty common for our kids,” Johnson said.

They also visited the American Islamic College, where they were given a presentation about stereotypes. There, they talked about Islamic clothing, and the misconception about Islam and its relation to ISIS and terrorism. “It was really good for our kids to hear, too, that what these people are doing is not what is means to be a Muslim,” Johnson said.

The group was also able to take part in some of the tourist activities of Chicago, including attending a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field and eating Chicago style pizza. They also visited Lincoln Park Zoo, The Bean, The Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan, and Navy Pier.

“The great part about a trip like this is learning a little bit so that when they encounter more, they have some basis of knowledge. When they go to college and they encounter people who are of a different ethnicity, or religion or background, they will have some sort of a knowledge base to go off of that isn’t based on stories,” Johnson said. “Small town North Dakota is a pretty isolating place, at times. If we don’t give our kids opportunities like this, it’s all they will know.”

Isaiah Johnson, one of the youth members to attend the mission trip, said his favorite parts included the Cubs game and the visit to St. Thomas. “I learned the most the first day when we went to [St. Thomas],” he said. “The church is such a big place, but they have less people in their congregation than we do. I thought that was pretty cool.”

The purpose of the annual trip is to do mission work around different cities and allow for the kids to see those cities through tourist activities.

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