Fifty high school students with 25 leaders from a mix of urban and suburban Chicago-area Christian Reformed churches put their faith into action on November 14. Youth groups from Palos Heights (Ill.) CRC, Orland Park CRC, Grace Community CRC, and Roseland CRC joined forces to reach out in their community.
From sorting clothes to handing out food baskets, youth group members helped five local agencies their churches support. Jeremy Oosterhouse, student ministries director of Palos Heights CRC said, “It was a blessing to see [students] embrace the challenge of going to unknown places and doing things that might be outside of their comfort zone. They represented Christian love to those around them cheerfully and willingly.”
Many students talked with people who are homeless. Kyle DeBlecourt, a Palos Heights youth group member, said, “Being able to hear the story of a homeless person was eye-opening [and helped us] see the needs in our community.” The students gained understanding about the reality of homelessness: “It’s not always a choice, and sometimes it is just through the circumstances of life,” Oosterhouse said.
Pastor Joe Huizenga of Roseland CRC spoke to the students about taking action against the injustices of life. “The students enjoyed the connection between the biblical mandate for acting out in faith in our lives,” said Oosterhouse.
Many of the agencies were grateful for the help. Scott Reese, director of Christ Cares, a ministry with people who are homeless in Chicago Heights, said that a group helped send out a missionary newsletter, saving him hours of labor. “They were not only a blessing to those I minister to but they were also an encouragement to me.”
Oosterhouse hopes this first Faith In Action service event for the Chicago youth groups will become an annual event.