BridgeBuilders bridges the ages

IMG_3957-eBridgeBuilders (BB) is one of those great experiences that no matter who you are, how old you are, or where you’re from, you’ll find things that will challenge, teach, and encourage you.

We recently hosted BB groups from very different points in life – one group of college students from Purdue (mostly sophomores), and a group of 30 to 60 years olds from Willow Creek/North Shore.  The beauty of BridgeBuilders is that we’re able offer activities and experiences that are specially designed for each group that comes to Sunshine Gospel.

Olivia, one of the leaders from Purdue, experienced BB for the first time along with the students. The fellowship on campus has come many times and the week long trips always have a real impact on those who participate. The group did a variety of things including working in Greenline Coffee, helping at Dulles, the local public elementary school, Master’s Academy, a nearby private Christian school, and helping rehab some apartments for a church in the neighborhood.

IMG_6229-eOne of the things that was unique for the Purdue kids was that one of the teachers at Master’s Academy is not only a Purdue grad, but had also been introduced to Chicago and the school she teaches at now on a previous BridgeBuilder trip taken as a student. She was able to share with the group that her academic major and her focus on life changed as a result of that previous BB experience.

The team also learned a lot about justice and God’s heart for it – largely coming through learning about the prevalence of injustice in our society, and Sunshine’s community in particular. Two of the “listening” opportunities, The Meal Share and The L Experience, were some of the things that really reinforced many of the things they had learned.

DSC_0359-eWhen I asked Olivia what she would say to someone considering bringing a group she said, “Do it! Come with an open heart and prayerfully. Go in and be humble, and be aware that you will have limited impact, but YOU will be significantly impacted.”

Willow Creek/North Shore brings groups numerous times per year for 1-2 day intensive experiences. They see the BB weekend as an important leadership development experience.

With the trips being only 1 or 2 days, they are much more focused on education and discussion. The sessions included time with Jared, the BridgeBuilder coordinator, Joel, the Sunshine Gospel Executive Director, and Ethan, the director of Sunshine’s entrepreneurial Community Business Academy.

IMG_3955-eWhat were some of the more impactful things? Loretta, one of the leaders, shared:

  • Because of recent issues with police brutality in the news, discussion addressing some of the underlying issues that exists between Blacks and the police.
  • The reality of employment challenges, especially with people with even a minor record.
  • Realization of the family make-up of the community – they’re people like us just trying to raise their families.
  • Surprise at how friendly the community was.

When I asked Jackie, a church staffer, what she would say to someone looking to bring a group to BridgeBuilders her response was, “Absolutely! If you serve the vulnerable in any way, it helps us with our posture and approach, especially if you serve in the Chicagoland area. And, it’s great for church leaders to bring their leadership and those wanting to serve their communities.”