By Gloria DuBose
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 14, 2015) -- From Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29, a group of students from Jubilee Project in Sneedville, Tenn., spent the weekend with students from The Bethlehem Center and left their mark all over Chattanooga.
Students from rural Hancock County came to Chattanooga to do community service, see the city for what it is, learn about their new friends, and to ask "who their neighbor is" in Chattanooga.
"They wanted to give back, and they did that," said Brian Allen, Bethlehem Center director of youth and family development.
Nineteen children from The Bethlehem Center and Jubilee Project prepared 200 sack lunches and gave them to the homeless in downtown Chattanooga, visited the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and even visited the Chambliss Shelter for Children, where they gave the kids stuffed animals.
"That is what you want to see from both groups," said Allen. "You want them to not worry about their problems, but focus on the problem at hand in that community at that time."
"Who Is My Neighbor" was created by the Jubilee Project, Inc. and the Bethlehem Center after Allen met Rev. Marta Cogburn and Rhonda Utermoehlen of Jubilee Project at a mission conference at Ooltewah United Methodist Church.
"I saw what they do up there and the needs that needed to be met in the community they live in," Allen said, "and I asked, 'How can we be of service to each other?'"
The team drew on Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, and Cogburn was blessed to find a grant to fund the program.
Bethlehem Center students took a trip to Sneedville where they worked on an old gym that is being remodeled to accommodate mission teams.
They also spent time talking about life in Sneedville and Chattanooga and spent time learning about God together.
"We got to know one another to see what they go through on a day-to-day basis, not only in their community, but also in our community,” Allen said.
The Bethlehem Center and Jubilee Project, Inc. hope to continue the project next year.
They are praying for the project to become a four-day trip and ask for others to pray as well.
"They were so amazed at what we do, and we're amazed at what they do in that small town," Allen said.
The Bethlehem Center is a 94-year-old nonprofit organization that contributes to the community in a holistic way by focusing on spiritual development, education/literacy, economic development, and leadership training. For more information about the Bethlehem Center, call David Meredith at (423) 266-1384 x.2.
Jubilee Project, Inc. is a United Methodist mission working to empower the community through food security, shelter, and access to clean water, health, and self-worth and love. For more information about the Jubilee Project, call (423) 733-4195.