Newton Cowan, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

The photos are one thing, the stories behind them are what matter. Perhaps you saw some of the photos on social media from our time at CROSS Missions in Charlotte? Donna Chase and I were fortunate to have been with these youth.

This recap is connected mostly to six rising 9th-graders I had the privilege of serving with. Donna Chase worked with six high schoolers.

Newton with our youth at CROSS Missions

Each day we went to mission sites, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Each group had an intern from Cross. Ours, Andrew, is heading to seminary this fall.  We covered a wide range of mission: pulling weeds in a garden designed to grow rice to feed the community, painting bedrails for Beds for Kids, packing shoes at Samaritans Feet to go to Africa, and sorting socks for Odd Socks given out across the country.

At each site we heard a presentation on the ministry and our work for that day. What struck me the most was how organizations are working not just to help with immediate needs, but also to help folks get back on their feet for the long term.

One such place was Freedom Communities. The focus of this non-profit organization is to revitalize the community in which they are based.  A small part of this work provides temporary housing for mostly single moms, a small home where they can stay for up to three months. They are assigned a coach and are part of a cohort of other single moms who are all trying to make a way in this world. They are connected to job training, money management, and resources in the community to set them up for success.

At this site, my group cleaned the inside and outside of one of the homes that was preparing to receive a mom and her children. The guys raked, spread mulch, washed windows, cleaned bedrooms — they worked hard.

At the end of each mission project, we would gather and talk about what the group saw and experienced and what they learned.  I was inspired each day not only by the mission work being done in Charlotte, but also by the youth.

I believe they came back with a new set of lenses to see each other and the recognition that they can make a difference in our community, one project at a time.