While some teens will be spending spring break at the beach and others on the links, a group of Harlem boys will be hammering nails and hammering home the message of God at a small church in New York.
A group of 20 people from Harlem Baptist Church will travel on a mission trip to Brooklyn, N.Y. from April 8 through April 13. Nine of the group are teens, including seven baseball players from Harlem High's baseball team and coach Jimmy Lewis.
"You've got nine boys who are going and are giving up spring break to do the Lord's work," said Harlem Baptist Church Pastor Philip Vestal.
He said this is the first time members of his church have traveled on a mission trip of this kind.
The group will be working at the Greater Restoration Baptist Church in Brookline, N.Y. - a church with a 40-member congregation.
"It wasn't really a hard choice," said Tyler Holley, a Harlem High senior who said he would otherwise be sitting around the house or be at the Masters during spring break. "My main goal will be to share Christ with others."
While the church was not structurally harmed by the events of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it was, nonetheless, scarred by the event. Vestal said he hopes they can bring healing.
"The church is in Brooklyn, but the impact of that event has affected the whole area. There are members who used to work at the World Trade Center, members who lost loved ones and friends. So although this church is not right by the World Trade Center, it has definitely been impacted by 9/11."
Harlem High School junior Michael Hawkinberry said this first mission trip for him will be a learning experience.
"You hear on the news about New York, but I wanted to see first hand what happened," he said.
Rob Lewis, a Harlem High senior, said he wants to see for himself Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center attacks.
"The pastor of that church worked at the World Trade Center and he lost his job when it went down," Lewis said. "I want to help him in his time of need."
While in New York, the missionaries will be finishing out the basement of the church so it can be used for the children's ministry. They will also be conducting some after-school programs, working in a soup kitchen that serves more than 900 each day and spreading the word of God through street evangelism, Vestal said.
"There is a need there and we wanted our church to help make a difference in the lives of those impacted by 9/11 events," Vestal said. "God calls us to be about missions, and he calls the local church to be on missions for him. This gave us the opportunity to be obedient to the call of Christ."
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