For the first time this year, members of Grace Community Church will be participating in a program called the Chicago Urban Mission Project, or “CHUMP” for short.
The CHUMP program is sponsored by the Church in West Ridge and has been running since 2008. It began when multiple youth groups participating in a mission trip in Chicago decided to hold an “impromptu” youth camp. The turnout was a success and drew in families in the area to come have a relationship with the church, according to youth pastor Joel Waltz. Since then every July and August, the program hosts a different group of volunteers from around the states each week.
Twelve members of Grace Community’s high school youth group along with their pastor have volunteered to take on this challenge and give back to this Chicago community. They have already begun putting together activity plans for their assigned week, which will occur July 6 – 13. Similar to a vacation Bible school set up, these activities will include crafting and playing games. And, as to be expected, the groups will also touch on some more hard-hitting lessons.
One part of that lesson is the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” which is considered by many as a significant religious work. It’s a story about the journey of the Christian. Because the children attending CHUMP will be kindergarten through fifth grade, Waltz will help draw comparisons between the book’s teachings and modern-day situations allowing these young minds to understand and grasp the concepts.
Waltz says he is excited for this opportunity to serve the Church in West Ridge and hopes that by helping the individuals who attend they can pay it forward and help others. But the benefit of this trip is not a one-way street. Waltz hopes, in return for their mission work, the Grace Community youth will clear what he refers to as “spiritual constipation.” He says a lot of people show up to church, listen to the scripture, go home and repeat this process passionlessly, doing little to nothing with the teachings of God.
So the Chicago mission trip will allow these young adults to apply the things they’ve learned rather than holding it all in. The hope is for everything to “work its way out of their hearts,” Waltz says, “and then on through other people.”
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