Arenales, Puerto Rico
When Jesus enters the room, he displaces the darkness, and creates his own space.Janessa Watson
There are opportunities to serve people all around. If you take a close look at your neighborhood, you will find projects that need attention, and people in the community who are willing to work, but simply need direction and motivation. Recently, the Abante team was invited to join forces with a local organization, to serve a troubled community with the love of Christ. Read colleague Janessa Watson’s experience leading her first benevolence project with the team:
“On November 12th, Abante had the opportunity to team up with The Exchange, a local missions’ ministry with an outreach project in the city of Dorado. The director of the organization, John Hoogeveen, has a vision to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a community called Arenales. This is a government-funded community that has had a rough couple of years struggling with local crime, neglect, and feuding amongst themselves. John invited the Abante team to help his organization bring the community together by showing the love of Jesus.
The strategy was for our ministries to put together a “Hot Dog Day.” This was to be a day of fun, food, and fellowship. John spoke with the mayor of Dorado to get a couple of coaches from local schools to do some clinics for the youth in the community. With the help of the coaches, we hosted workshops for basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading. After these workshops, we handed out free hot dogs, chips, and water to everyone that attended, and engage in good conversations.
For this event, we had volunteers that included John Hoogeveen and his family, the Abante team, volunteers from the Abante leadership exposure weekend, volunteers form Young Life, and other volunteers from the community. Together, these volunteers engaged this community to show the love of Jesus. We simply wanted to show Arenales that there are people that care about them, and will be praying for them and their community.
Brian, our fearless leader, had given me the privilege to lead the team on this event, and I can honestly say that I felt like a true leader. I helped John with the preparations leading up to the event; getting the supplies, coordinating how the teams of volunteers would interact, and what each group would do. Even though at the time I thought I didn’t do much, during the event, I was able to see that all preparations played a part in the success of the event.
I learned a lot during that one day of leadership. I learned that in leadership, not everything is going to go according to the schedule, and that is okay. Being flexible can help situations rather than hurt them. I also learned that it doesn’t matter how many people attend, as long as you stay engaged with the people that are present. Staying intentional with the people around you can open the door for amazing conversations.
I had a good conversation with one of the girls that attended, and after telling her a little bit of my story and how I got to Abante, she opened-up to me about what she had been going through in her life. She asked if I could pray for her. It opened my eyes and showed me that if I stay intentional and show that I care, people can open-up to me and share their stories.
‘When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.’ ~ Romans 12:13″
For more of Janessa’s story, click here for her blog!