Each and every time I enter a rescue mission I thank God for the blessings in my life and in the same breath I thank God for the presence of rescue missions around our country.
This last week I brought high school students to Los Angeles to work on Skid Row serving the homeless.
As we drove onto San Pablo street moving through the Flower and Fashion districts we crossed over Sixth Street to enter two square blocks filled with trash and people literally laying on the sidewalks and streets.
Our Walla Walla students looked out their windows to see the poor of this community and it was overwhelming, but we had not seen the worst of it.
As we rounded the block and traveled down San Julian street to enter the parking garage of one of the missions we saw this community of people come to life.
The street was plagued with trash, shopping carts and luggage. There were people of all colors, men and women and the most heartbreaking children of every age.
Over the course of a week for many hours a day our students served the poor and needy.
We listened to the stories of those in the beginning of their recovery and those who were well into their recovery.
We saw those who had no hope and we saw those who were truly hungry. Our hearts broke for the poor and needy from the stories of drug and alcohol abuse to the stories of medical bills and lost jobs that ultimately led people to these missions.
Many churches send students and adults around the world to serve the poor and needy during school breaks.
Their purposes are often the same; to care for the poor, to share the Gospel and to learn how to be an agent of change in this world.
When I hear someone talk about, "Those kids today…" I think about the kids who have volunteered to give up part or in some cases their entire vacations to reach out to the poor and to learn more about how to participate with Christ by learning to practice mercy and fight injustice in our world.
The prophet Isaiah, in his encounter with God in chapter six, responds to God who asks this question, "Whom shall I send, whom will go for us?"
The Lord was angry with his people and desired for them to follow his ways … to love God fully … to care for the poor and needy … to practice justice … and the Lord wanted to know, who will remind and tell my people about my ways. Who will remind God's people about the love God has for each of them. Then Isaiah says, "Here I am Lord, send me." Each and every time students and adults participate in the work of the Kingdom of God we are in a sense saying to God, "Here I am Lord, send me." May we be encouraged by the example of our children to care for the poor and needy; to follow their example and respond to God to care for the least of these in our midst.
The Rev. Nate Dreesman is associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Walla Walla. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.