Matthew 25 Hub Ministry dwells in a lower income residential part of Cedar Rapids, the neighborhood most devastated by the June 2008 flood. Many homes have been demolished, but many people still live in the community. One mission of Matthew 25 is to restore the community “block by block.” In the three years after the flood, Matthew 25 worked on more then 250 homes. Now in the later stages of recovery, the work of Matthew 25 with some uninhabited houses is currently caught up in red tape between the city and homeowners/inheritors. Part of our work was to prepare two houses restored by Matthew 25 for sale by ripping up dilapidated concrete walkways and patios and pouring concrete in the basement of one house. Much of what we did was prepare plots of land, where people used to live, as urban farms by digging trenches in clay and filling them with compost. One group also built 50 compost mounds for farming on a parcel of land outside the city. Most of the work was outdoors in the sun and extreme heat. The 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman, was referred to several times. A healthy sense of humor was our companion in the heat and during the hard labor. On Wednesday we took a half day off. Some youth went the to Field of Dreams in Dyersville, and the rest of us went swimming at a local pool with a water slide and high dive.
We stayed at the historic St. Paul’s UMC, designed in 1910-12 by the grand master of modern American architecture, Louis Sullivan. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. The youth played games, cooked, ate, relaxed, and slept in this amazing church building.
Each night we worshiped through the singing of songs, Bible study, personal reflection, and prayer. Several youth volunteered to lead worship. Most precious was our closing Friday night service in the candlelit historic sanctuary. Five recently graduated high school seniors were celebrated and they closed out their youth group days with meaningful words of wisdom to the youth following in their footsteps.
Thankfully, we all returned safely home Saturday afternoon. Most important, the youth grew their faith in Jesus Christ through bonding closer together in their relationships, by being equipped for discipleship, and by serving the Cedar Rapids community.
God’s grace was multiplied many times over.