Four years ago, I found myself in a van with people I hardly knew, headed to a place very different than any I’ve ever been or thought I wanted to go. I was going to a place the world told me to fear and forget. And yet, a place where the Gospel was put into action in big and bold ways.
During my sophomore year of college I signed up for a spring break trip on which I wasn’t even sure I should really go. I had never been on a mission trip, was still pretty new to my faith, and was certain that combination would render me unequipped and unprepared for what I had just committed. Yet I made my way with a small team of college students to a neighborhood in the urban-core of Jacksonville, Florida.
I spent the week working with staff from 2nd Mile Ministries, learning from and listening to people from the community. My eyes were opened to the manifestations of unjust and unequal systems that run rampant throughout the Brentwood neighborhood. And yet, amidst the hurt and brokenness, there was (and still is) extreme hope, joy, kindness, and generosity coursing through the place.
I suddenly could see the biblical call to pursue justice across the entire Bible and what it looked like to authentically live out the Gospel. I was unprepared for how God stretched my heart, challenged my worldview, and changed my narrative to fit within His during those seven days.
I kept coming back for trips and internships with 2nd Mile until I finally made the decision to stay in Brentwood. The things I experienced and learned on that spring break trip are still with me today, influencing just about every aspect of my life, and ultimately where I live. I never would have put myself in Jacksonville, Florida, but I’m so glad that God did.
So maybe Jacksonville is just a brief stop for you, or a long-term stay, but I invite you to come. Come see how God can use this place to transform your story for His redemption and reconciliation.
Brittany – former UW-Madison student