The Philadelphia Project

This was Good Sam Youth Ministries’ seventh consecutive summer at the Philadelphia Project. Each year we wonder how the experience can be better than the year before, but each year the trip is new and fresh and challenges us more and more.

This year, the Philly Project decided to add a day to the mission trip. This allowed for the Friday night program to be a time of reflection and testimony. Many of our students stood and spoke to the entire group (almost 100 people) about their week and what they felt like God had taught them through the week. It was a powerful time where we were able to see how God had worked in our lives throughout the week.

... This year I was especially excited to go and serve in the community because I have felt God calling me to do more volunteer work. It is always so fulfilling to see the immediate effects of your work at the Project which I was able to do in Mercy ministry (the branch of service I did while at the project). We were directly making an impact on people in the city and it was so heartwarming to have the opportunity to share God’s love everywhere we went. Every year I grow spiritually at the Project but this year I was able to figure out what God wants from me through my joy of spreading his love. It was amazing to see God in the people I worked with and served in Philadelphia this summer and I hope we all continue to grow in our faith. - Annie Defina

...The day we worked in the food pantry out of Roxbrough Presbyterian church had a huge impact on me. We saw multiple mothers with children our age and realized that families that appear to be totally fine could really be struggling. Sitting down and talking to the people we served has a very significant part of this week. No matter where we were we talked to people, we heard their stories, and we prayed. Being God’s hands and feet is really what the Philadelphia Project is all about, you learn to focus less on yourself and more on those who are hurting and weak but find strength in the Lord. - Elizabeth White

I’ve lived and grown up in my bubble of suburban Pennsylvania neighborhoods and schools for my entire life. There, I saw struggling, but not desperation. I saw heartache, but not agony. I saw insolvency, but not poverty. Then I took a weeklong trip to inner city Philadelphia, and saw all of the latter. My experience at the Philadelphia Project exposed me to a family homeless shelter where I talked to and played with young kids who had so little but were able to have so much fun with us. It brought us to a food pantry where we fed and met with families, some with kids close to our age, who were looking for a hot meal and some to bring home. We went to center city, onto the sidewalks and subways, to give lunch and conversation to those who lived on the streets. Most striking to me was how often homeless people would ask us to pray for “those hurting around the world.” Their concern about people who had less than even them was inspiring, and it changed the way I think of my own privileges. – Nate White

I said that I was a Christian. I said that I believed in God. The thing was, I never really knew what that meant. In church, I would look around and everyone seemed to know what they were doing, they seemed to have their faith all figured out. People would talk and act like they knew God really well. I felt as though I was missing out on that. Questions started to tug at the back of my mind. How would I put my faith in God? Is there a certain feeling that I’m supposed to get? How would I know when I did it? I learned that putting my faith and trust in God wasn’t always going to be easy. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was a journey that I would take. This was my first year at the Philadelphia Project. I worked with lots of different kids at the Kids Camp that the Philadelphia Project helped out with. Before I went on the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out that this trip was one of the best weeks of my life. It changed me and my relationship with God. I never realized how much he just wanted me to get to know him better. This trip was God calling me to get closer to him. I saw God through my amazing experiences and all of the great people that I met. I love all of the kids that I met at the Kids Camp. The hard part was saying goodbye to them at the end of the week. During the trip, my anxiety tried to get in the way of me learning more about God; but thanks to the people at the project that didn’t happen. God is with me and helps me fight through my anxious and uncertain thoughts. Without this trip and all of the amazing people that I met, my relationship with God would not be as strong.-Lillian Purifoy