On July the 6th, the 2019 Truth Corps team started a three and-a-half week adventure to serve our host Ecclesias and spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
This year, our team spent time in the Pomona and San Diego Ecclesias in California and at the Broughton Ecclesia in Jamaica. The team consisted of Brothers: Erick Cervantes, Micah Hewitson, Brandon Hefner and Micah Luff; and Sisters: Sarah Perry, Lonti Shindano, Claire Robinson and Rhiannon Bourke. We were later joined in Jamaica by Sister Sarah Kohlman and Brother and Sister Matt and Cilla Tuckson. Our team was led by Brother Dave and Sister Cassie Giordano for our time in California and by Brother Dana Kohlman in Jamaica.
Pomona Ecclesia, California
Our team spent our first week at the Pomona Ecclesia helping out with the Vacation Bible School (VBS) that they were running. The theme for the VBS was ‘Learning from God’s treasure book,’ and we looked at stories from the Acts of the Apostles, centering on the work of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The members of the Truth Corps team were allocated to teach a particular age-group throughout the week and so we had the opportunity to develop close relationships with the children we worked with. Brother Micah Luff commented “The Pomona VBS contained a lot of amazing moments for me, but my favorite moment had to have been seeing the kids from the neighborhood come out and learn alongside the Christadelphian kids and even build friendships with them.”
Every day of the VBS was packed with a variety of activities for the kids, from learning lessons in the classes, to group singing, craft activities and games outside. The Truth Corps team had the opportunity to be involved in working with the children and engaging with them in all of the activities. Sister Claire, who was involved in leading the singing in the morning, reported “My favorite part of the Pomona VBS was singing with the kids. Every morning, we would get up and sing praises to God. I loved seeing the kids’ faces light up when we sang songs they knew as well as their ability to be able to sing out new ones. It was truly a remarkable experience.”
In the first few days at Pomona, the Truth Corps team spent time canvassing the neighborhood and delivering leaflets that advertised both the VBS and the public presentation that was to be later in the week. Other members of the Ecclesia, including some of the children from the VBS, got involved with this as well, and it was great to have them working alongside us. As well as Truth Corps involvement in the VBS and in delivering leaflets, the team had the opportunity to spend time with members of the Ecclesia, attend the Simi Hills CYC class, and visit a sister living in isolation to break bread and sing hymns with her. Some Truth Corps team members commented that this was a highlight for them during this week, as it was such a special and meaningful experience for us.
All in all, our week in Pomona was one that we enjoyed immensely, feeling overwhelmed with the hospitality and enthusiasm of the members of the Ecclesia. We were very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve alongside our Brothers and Sisters and work in God’s vineyard with them.
San Diego Ecclesia, California
Our week in San Diego started off with training sessions delivered to us by Brother Allen and Sister Tara Laben. A number of young people from the Ecclesia joined us for these sessions to explore ways to preach and have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the door-to-door canvassing that we were about to begin. We were given time to write out our own personal ‘thirty second statement of faith’ and to practice role playing situations that we might come across during our door-to-door preaching.
Door-to-door preaching was something that most of the team members expressed feeling apprehensive about. It isn’t easy to walk up to a complete stranger and share your faith with them on their doorstep. Brother Micah Hewitson said that “San Diego was a great opportunity for all of us to leave our comfort zones and practice talking about our faith. Most of us will say that week was the most challenging for us, but also our favorite week.” A few of the younger members of the CYC also came to join our team in canvassing and it so nice to have their involvement in what we were doing.
During door-to-door preaching, we advertised for a public presentation which was held later in the week. We had a few members from the community attend the presentation and it was also exciting to see that quite a number of people (over 200!) tuned in to watch at least some of the presentation on the Facebook live stream.
The San Diego Ecclesia decided to run a ‘Readings in the Park’ while we were there, and the Truth Corps team was able to support the Ecclesia in this. We made signs to advertise what we were doing and invited members of the public who were walking by to join us for Bible readings.
The team also spent quite a bit of time with the CYC; going on a hike, enjoying a beach day and supporting their CYC activities by giving devotions. While we were in San Diego, we were blessed to witness a baptism of one of the members of the CYC at her house. We were also able to visit one of our elderly sisters and spend time with her, singing her favorite hymns and sharing some of our favorites as well.
We enjoyed all of our time at the San Diego Ecclesia and loved getting to know the young people better and spending time in fellowship with the members of the Ecclesia. It was definitely a week that challenged us, but really supported both our personal and spiritual development.
Broughton Ecclesia, Jamaica
The third and final leg of the Truth Corps journey was at the Broughton Ecclesia in Jamaica where we ran a Vacation Bible School in the Ecclesial hall. It was a very busy week with a number of children from both Christadelphian families and from the community attending. Like in Pomona, we taught lessons from the Acts of the Apostles and the children enjoyed doing the crafts, learning new songs and acting out the stories. Canvassing in Broughton led to the opportunity at the local elementary school in which the vice-principal invited a few members of Truth Corps to lead devotions each day for the children participating in the summer school program. Because of this, we were able to tell the kids about the VBS and invite them to come along the next day.
Reflecting on the Truth Corps experience in Jamaica, Priscilla Tuckson said “Having the Truth Corps 2019 visit Jamaica while we were there was an incredible experience, and one that means a lot to Tuck and I, as we met on that very team three years ago. They brought a breath of fresh air and enthusiasm to the work that we are all doing here, and it was particularly nice to have their input at the start of our stay in the Broughton area. The kids absolutely loved having them here, and the Vacation Bible School was a great success, with almost 45 children from the community attending by the end of the week. Despite a stomach bug afflicting all of us at various times, and the heat that took a bit of adjusting to, we all had an incredible week getting to know the brothers and sisters, the local kids and each other. The devotional and first principle workshop have long been part of the Truth Corps daily schedule and we loved being part of these daily activities again that were the basis for lots of great discussion. There was certainly no end of laughter too over more things than I can remember, but especially when a land crab the size of a mango decided to crawl its way into the middle of our evening prayer circle and frighten us half to death.”
The Truth Corps team also spent a lot of time building relationships with members of the CYC and visiting members of the Ecclesia. We had a CYC beach day right across the road from where we were staying.
We were also able to visit some couples and families who aren’t able to make it out to the Ecclesia as often as they would like due to ill-health, and it was a blessing to do readings and sing hymns with them.
We finished off our trip to Jamaica by travelling to meet some sisters and their children who live in isolation in Jamaica.
As the sun set on our final day in Jamaica, we bowed our heads together for our final group prayer, thankful for all of the memories and experiences that we had shared together and praying for God to continue to work in the Ecclesia’s that we had visited. Sarah Perry reflected that “Truth Corps was an incredible experience to readjust my perspective to focus on the work of God. The trip provided a balance of preaching, pastoral care, ecclesial support and personal growth.” Truth Corps truly was a life changing experience and the memories we will all cherish forever.
Compiled by Sis. Sister Rhiannon Bourke, Truth Corps member