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D.C. Area Young Adults Spearhead Praise and Service Outreach
Story by Visitor Staff
Young people from four Washington, D.C., area churches praise God even in the rain.
“We were not counting on having rain,” said Jimmy Munoz, discipleship pastor at Potomac Conference’s Seabrook church in Lanham, Md. “We moved ahead trusting that God would keep it away, but God allowed a terrific storm. We got soaked. Feelings of sadness and disappointment were real and deep. Would we go home defeated? Not at all!”
After weeks of planning a gospel showcase along with food and clothes distribution to homeless people in Washington, D.C., the organizers could have just given up. Instead, they remembered what drove them to organize the event in the first place. “We are called to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Our goal was to feed 500 displaced persons and minister to 1,000 members of the community,” said Jenice Goffe, Seabrook’s Twenties and Thirties (TNT) ministry leader.
And that is just what they did. Calling their event Park ‘N Praise, members of Seabrook church’s Twenties and Thirties group worked with three other area churches (Potomac’s Restoration Praise Center in Lanham and Takoma Park in Takoma Park, Md., as well as Allegheny East Conference’s Metropolitan church in Hyattsville, Md.) to make Sabbath, July 27, a day of praise and service. The young people decided to not only share music, poetry and devotional thoughts, but also distribute food and toiletries and provide free health screenings.
Although each church had their own outreach ministries this event was different. This was the first time they partnered for an event like this. Marquis D. Johns, associate pastor at Metropolitan church, said, “This project gave us the opportunity to collaborate with other churches in the area, something that is relatively rare, to do more than just preach Jesus, but to be the only Jesus some people will ever see.”
Goffe added, “We wanted to hold an event that was ‘without walls.’ The idea was to go where the people are. So often we do concerts and programs in churches and we are often only ministering to each other. We are called to take the gospel to all the world, so we thought that it was a natural fit to have the event in a large, outdoor space where passersby could hear the music and feel welcome to come over and join us. And that is exactly what happened— several homeless men stayed for the singing and a few even shared a song and their testimony.”
Richard Embden, who was previously homeless for seven years, stumbled on the event and happily got up on stage to sing.
Embden who was on his way to another performance, said he stayed around because he thought the Park ‘N Praise event “might be better.” He also shared that he had a long relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Green, Seabrook church’s youth pastor. “He’s been praying for me for a little while and I’ve appreciated the prayers of the saints,” Embden said.
He also had some words of advice for those who help the homeless. “Food and clothes are plentiful … but being treated with decency and respect—even some places that give you the assistance treat you as less than sometimes, so when you run across genuine Christians, it’s refreshing.”
Another passerby also got up on stage to sing. Larry Edwards said, “ Anything that promotes god and peace I’m all apart of more of it needed. Just saw them gathered in a huddle. Walked up Felt I had to do something. Not only do I just love performing something just told me to get up on stage and sing—a gift by God.”
Many of the attendees, passersby, homeless people and church members reported receiving a blessing that afternoon even in the rain. “We were all challenged by the reality that we have been gifted to accomplish anything God wants,” Munoz said. “At least one person gave her heart anew to God and 70 asked to be soaked in God’s spirit. They were.”