Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ship of Zion Community Day Outreach

The Ship of Zion (SOZ) is located in southeast Raleigh. South Blount Street to be specific.  It used to be a house but has since been converted to a church.  It is currently being led by Pastors Chris and Jacqueline Jones.  This inner city ministry reaches out to drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, gang members, and anyone who may wonder in through their doors.  My church, Hope Community Church partners with SOZ, and on the 2nd Saturday of each month volunteers from Hope are sent out to help with the "community day" outreach.  Volunteers can assist with serving lunch, distributing groceries and clothing, medical screening, and pray with those from the community.   

Ship of Zion

I've been wanting to serve at SOZ for over a year now.  Every time I had planned to I was busy, or I would just forget.  I was looking online the other day and saw their outreach day was coming up.  I decided that I was definitely going to go and that was that!  :) 

I met a group of people at Hope at 9am.  I carpooled with three super nice people to SOZ.  We got there around 9:30ish and there were a lot of people there.  People from the community, as well as from other churches besides Hope.  I saw a couple people I already knew and learned very quickly that a great deal of people had shown up to serve when we were given a "mini" tour of the place.  When you walk in the front doors you're in the chapel.  There were pews and a stage.  Now, I know you're visualizing what this might look like.  Picture this: very small, low ceilings, dirty carpeting, two window units to cool the space, a couple speakers, drum kit, and two tables for registration.  It wasn't like any place I had ever stepped foot into.

All of us were listening to Richard (he's attends Hope and has been serving at the SOZ for 4 years now) speak about the place when all of the sudden a woman with a great deal of energy came busting into the room.  Before I knew what was going on she and two other woman started singing acapella and clapping the beat.  It was awesome!  We sang two songs, prayed, and then broke off to begin serving the community.

I'll admit that I was a bit lost at first.  I didn't really know what to do? I originally went out front to greet, but I quickly realized that this was a lot harder than when I greet people at church.  These folks live a tough life.  I can't even begin to imagine what some of them have gone, or are currently going through?  How would I even know how to relate?  I immediately became shy (which is not like me) and made my way through to find another area to help.   I was pretty disappointed in myself because I quickly realized this was going to be harder for me than I initially thought.

After poking around for about 15 minutes I asked a nice woman if I could help with clothing.  She said yes and so that's what I did.  I will say that I was kind of surprised at the "stuff" sitting on the table.  Some of the things that had been donated were in pretty bad shape.  It didn't matter though because the woman approaching the table did not even seem phased by what was available to them.  It made me realize how selfish I am.  I have two closets practically bursting at the seams with clothes and I'm always wanting more. As I type this blog I am looking around where I live.  I'm in comfort with the AC running and a light on over my head.  I'm drinking a hot cup of coffee with my fancy coffee creamer.  I've been scarfing down the sweetest blueberries I've had in a long time.  I have it so good compared to the people southeast Raleigh.  It's a tough reality.  

When I was driving back to the church a girl in the car was telling me about working the registration table all morning.  She said that the people who wanted food boxes (over 150 were passed out today) had to have an ID.  Some people didn't have a driver's license.  Some only had a prison ID to verify who they were.  I just can't imagine.  She told me about a man last month who was carrying his grocery box home and someone came by and stole it.  So sad.

I was talking with my friend, Donna about what she did at SOZ.  She told me she prayed with people.  I was telling her how I want to be able to pray with people but I just don't even know what to say.  She told me she didn't either.  But she asked God to give her the words and did it.  People are asked to fill out prayer slips ahead of time and she said that people were asking for prayers to find work, a home, and some were addicts.  She said out of all the people she prayed with, maybe three were followers.  I hope that maybe, just maybe someone walked away saved today. :)

The most amazing thing I witnessed today was with a woman names Sophie.  She was sitting by me outside on a bench in front of the church.  She had been walking by and saw a bunch of people outside.  She wandering in and was able to get a box of food.  She was staying with a friend and wasn't able to get a hold of him to come and get her. I let her use my phone a few times to call him but he never answered. One nice thing about the SOZ volunteers is that they will take you home if you don't have a means of transportation.  A really nice man eventually took Sophie home. I got her a bag of ice to put her perishables in to prevent them from spoiling if she had to sit outside for a while waiting for her friend. 

Now for the amazing part.  The man who took Sophie home was talking to her and getting to know her.  He shared with Sophie that at one time in his life he was without a job, a license, and had just gotten out of jail.  He went on to share his testimony with her.  Incredible.  I also listened to a woman (the one who led the group earlier in song) talk to Sophie.  I heard her share her testimony too and pray with her.  Sophie was crying, and after that prayer I had tears in my eyes.  It was pretty powerful.  I really hope a seed was planted  in Sophie today and this will inspire to to turn her life around.   She's only 27 years old.  

After hearing and witnessing some pretty amazing things today I realized that I need to serve in the community more.  I want to get to the point where I can pray with others, share my testimony, and hopefully help change people's lives.  I am going back to SOZ next month.  I am going to pray that God gives me the words to help others and let them know I care.  

These three woman had amazing voices and were set up on the porch singing their hearts out. The one on the left was the woman who talked to Sophie.  

1 comment:

  1. Ashley, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have a few other friends who attend Hope in Cary (is that right?). I've been looking for a while for a church that would be right for my little family. I'll have to check it out.


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