First Presbyterian Church of Strasburg Mission Trip
Event Location: Trenton, New Jersey

From July 30-August 4, ten students and four adults from First Presbyterian Church of Strasburg travelled to central New Jersey to assist Arm in Arm Ministries at their locations. We utilized “When Did We See You?” as a guide split into 9 digestible sections to study scripture and wrap up our days.

When we arrived, we were greeted by beautiful architecture, historical structures, and a world of beauty near one of the oldest Ivy League universities in the country. The following day, we visited a neighborhood in Trenton, NJ, where hundreds of people lined up alongside the road to wait for food. Quickly, we realized that we needed to be “seen” by someone, or we would continue to be lost into our surroundings. A gentleman approached one of the leaders, speaking Spanish, asking if we needed to get into the building. He kindly showed us which door was open so we could meet our guide for the day. We were certainly the minority in this neighborhood and we stuck out like a sore thumb.

Nothing prepared us for the amount of people who registered with Arm in Arm to receive food each week. Throughout the week, we heard from many people who worked for Arm in Arm. One woman explained that in the winter months, oftentimes people wait in line beginning at 7am, when the facility does not begin handing out food bags until 10am. There are approximately 125 bags of food given at each of their 4 locations weekly. They support over 400 families in the Trenton area.

After our first day, we came back together for time to focus on Matthew 25. We discussed those who are unseen, seen, who we refuse to see, and how God sees us. Through the use of a drop cloth, we created a person that included words written by the students about the people God wants us to feed, clothe, visit, and care for.

The very next day, a student asked to bring along with us a bag of non-perishable food for a man he saw sleeping at a traffic light. This was just one of the many opportunities students saw to tangibly see those around them. Another student came home asking for more ways to feed people in our area in Pennsylvania. She saw a chance to take her abundance and bless others.

This trip showed students the contrast of affluence and poverty in a way they had never experienced. We travelled 15 minutes south of Princeton to find ourselves in the midst of hundreds of people who are unseen in America. Most people we served were not native to this country and their identification was a visa. Some needed translators since the only languages we represented were English, Spanish, and ASL. Students were able to connect this to hearing their shepherd’s voice and responding to the needs of those around them.