Cristin Choi – Post Philly Testimony


We partnered with a group called Center for Student Missions for the week. Through CSM, we worked with several different ministries and organizations to prepare meals for about 1,000 people and provide some other help.

There are a whole lot of dark parts in Philadelphia as we learned on the first night’s prayer tour. Philadelphia may be a city for tourists but beneath all the lights and attractions, there are neighborhoods in ruins and people in despair. It’s a center for drugs, violence, poverty and a whole lot of other things. Yet, despite that, God is still working in Philadelphia. He doesn’t neglect even the worst neighborhood.

To give one illustration, while we were at St. John’s Hospice, there were two men on the piano—one of them homeless and the other a staff member. When you think ‘hospice’, you think of a desolate, plain depressing place. But these two guys on the piano were just the opposite; they were actually emanating joy. You could see it on their faces, not to mention the faces of the fellow guys at the hospice, volunteers and staff. These guys were jamming out on the piano and belting their hearts out for half an hour straight. I’m pretty sure if they were any more happy, sunshine would’ve actually been radiating from their faces. And one of these guys was homeless! Yet, he still found a reason for joy, regardless of his situation. The whole thing was just too great.

The only place we spent all four full days at was a summer camp-like place called Lighthouse and it’s something I won’t forget. It was equal parts chaos/learning experience/really great. If there’s one thing that the kids at Lighthouse taught me, it’s that people have reasons for acting the way they do and you still have to love them nonetheless. A lot of these kids grew up in neighborhoods of crime or violent households and it’s not an excuse to act all crazy, but you still have to understand where people are coming from because most of those kids live lives a lot tougher than ours and at such a young age. One of the kids I met was a wise-beyond-her-years ten year old named Giana. She was pretty unresponsive at first but by the end of those four days, we had grown pretty tight. She told me that she was well aware that Lighthouse wasn’t the most orderly place but it was still a safe place where she could come and have fun. It made me realize that the Lighthouse was actually a blessing for a lot of the kids. It would’ve been easy to give up trying to form a friendship after the first encounter but that wouldn’t be loving people well.

A prayer request I had before the mission trip was to build and deepen relationships with others and I thank God that that has happened, not only with the people we served but the people we served alongside. As a group, we grew—maybe because we had to eat and sleep and talk with each other for seven days. We shared many laughs and bonded but in the end of it all what we really did was love each other and love Jesus and people and work for the glory of God with the people we loved.

It is only because of the grace of God that we were able to love the people of Philadelphia and love each other. Again, thank you supporters for all your help through this mission trip.

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