By Jacob Lee
“Mayhem and majesty.” These were the words from one of the staff members at The Philadelphia Project-and it’s a perfect way to describe our experience. Our week of getting to know and serving Northwest Philly was intense. The journey began on Sunday as we were given a tour of the neighborhood. We were immediately confronted with poverty and brokenness. My heart sank as we saw a nearby elementary school that had to stop serving lunch, and was also forced to send half of its kids to other schools that were farther away due to lack of funding. It was in that context that we came to support The Philadelphia Project, a ministry of Roxborough Presbyterian Church, which strives to bring restoration to this community. It was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day to hear that a handful of students from that very elementary school would run to this church every day for snacks and an after-school program during the school year.
Our days at The Project were jam-packed with either serving the local children through a day camp or helping a local resident rehabilitate her home. I was with the team (photo above) that had the responsibility of repainting a resident’s living room and reinstalling a new porch. I personally had zero experience in carpentry, but here’s what I learned: This work is hard, especially in 90-degree heat!
I find that it is in the midst of a fiery trial that the idols of our hearts fight most violently for dominance. The lust for comfort and control becomes most incessant when we are completely stripped away of it. I’m sure everyone involved in this mission trip would say the same. But it is in that mayhem—when bodies are fatigued and hearts are frustrated—that we realize our deep need for a majestic Savior who rescues, redeems, and restores us.
During this week I witnessed the sacrifice of Jesus in the devotion of our amazing volunteers. I also witnessed the power of Jesus as he transformed our students’ hearts. And lastly, I witnessed the love of Jesus all over again because he took on the most costly rehabilitation project of all—changing sinners like us into his image.