CHAOS youth travel to NYC
By Candice Carter
For the Salisbury Post
Thirty-five adults, college and high school students traveled to New York City July 7-14 with the CHAOS youth group to serve as the hands and feet of Christ in New York City. The team hosted three vacation Bible schools and shared the good news of Jesus Christ through drama ministry.
CHAOS is a joint youth ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church, Mt. Moriah Evangelical Lutheran Church and Lutheran Chapel. CHAOS stands for Christians Hyped About Our Savior.
CHAOS traveled by Amtrak to NYC, with our group staying at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Flushing, NY, where we slept on air mattresses and shared two showers between 35 people for the week.
We left North Carolina with the intention of leading two Bible schools. However, when we arrived, the Lord had opened the door for us to lead three in one week. Our group broke up into three teams to serve the different locations, including the church we stayed in, Immanuel Lutheran Church.
The second location was a once-thriving church that had been closed for a number of years located only a few blocks from where we lodged. This was the first vacation Bible school held there, and they averaged around 14 children. When asked how many of them had ever heard of Jesus or the Bible only one little girl raised her hand. By the end of the week this group was introduced to Jesus, learning Bible verses and was shown the love of Christ through our group.
Each one of them left with their very own Bible and a new excitement in their faith.
“The kids would hardly focus on anything after they received their Bibles,” said leader Katie Curlee. “They wanted to read it and were so proud to own a copy of God’s word.”
Team number three traveled to Staten Island daily to lead vacation Bible school at Christ Assembly Lutheran Church. This was an African Liberian Community full of children eager for God’s love. Our group traveled 2.5 hours one way to our VBS, totaling a 5-hour daily commute. We traveled by bus, subway, ferry and van to get to our church each day.
Christ Assembly was once a 400-member congregation but after the 9/11 attacks so many people lost their lives or jobs that the congregation greatly decreased. This community was in desperate need of a mission team to lead the kids in something positive and spiritually uplifting.
From the moment we entered the doors at Christ Assembly Lutheran we never once complained of the daily commute because it was beyond words the blessing we received from the children. We were even blessed to have a middle/high school group at this church in which some of the kids were from African refugee camps and relocated in New York.
Each day we were able to share the love of Jesus with the kids through song, Bible stories, games, crafts and snack time. Most of all we shared our time and attention with them which in return showed Christ’s light in us. The last day of Bible school we had over 65 kids. As we drove away from the church on Friday the kids stood in the doorway with sad faces and our team cried tears of joy, sadness and thanksgiving for the way God had blessed us and used us for his service.
Our group uses its talents through skits and dramas to provide a message of Jesus Christ. We particularly like to show God’s healing power, mercy and grace though sharing our own trials and how God has worked in our own lives. We were presented with numerous opportunities to share our talents including performing our skits in the worship service at Immanuel Lutheran, at vacation Bible school and we even had the opportunity to share with a group of seminary students.
The opportunity that stood out the most was when our group went to the center of Times Square and painted the nail- pierced hands and feet of Jesus along with his face, which displayed the blood he shed for us. We had a decent crowd watching but most people saw what we were doing and never stopped. In a fast-paced city like New York where very few people are Christians, it was an incredible way to witness.
The kids also held up their “Cardboard Testimonies” which told of their personal stories of faith. We had a number of people say “Bless you for your testimonies” and “God bless.” As their youth director it amazed me to see these kids step out in their faith and share their beliefs in such a public way.
Our eyes were opened tremendously on this trip. When we first arrived we felt there would be no way to lead three Bible schools in one week. We didn’t have the people, the materials or the resources that we needed.
But God had other plans. He showed us that we must take the opportunities that he puts before us. The Bible schools weren’t based on what we had to offer them materialistically; all we needed was our willingness to work and share the knowledge and love of Christ that we had within us. We sang a cappella, we prayed, we made simple crafts and even made name tags out of duct tape. There were no bouncing castles, no instruments to play music, no elaborate videos or elaborate planning put into this VBS.
I believe some of my students summed it up best: “I learned that Christ can be found and needed in the smallest most unexpected places,” says Brittany Goodman, rising senior at South Rowan. Lauren Beaver, a rising senior at Carson, says, “Our trip was life changing. We met people who live vastly different lives than us and we got to see a totally different world than we are used to but we all need God just the same.”
“The excitement and love we received from all ages over learning about Jesus was truly a blessing to us,” said Angie Freeze, an adult chaperone.
Candice Carter leads the CHAOS youth group.