Open Heart UMC is a small church located in a high poverty area in Rapid City, South Dakota. We are within a 1-mile radius of 3 Title 1 schools, meaning that all of these schools have at least 40% of students living at or below the poverty line.
Almost two years ago, we launched an after-school faith-based program for middle schoolers called "CHAOS." The program has grown tremendously, and this year two youth felt called to be baptized in the Name of Christ. This year, eight youth have elected to attend a National Youth Rally and mission trip in Kansas City. This is a once in a lifetime experience for these youth, where they can experience mission work, attend workshops about prayer, mercy and piety, and hear from some of the best youth pastors and Christian bands from across the United States. These kids have been working very hard all year to raise funds, from shoveling sidewalks to hosting special dinners, but we still have a ways to go.
The kids going on the trip come from tremendously rough backgrounds. One youth is currently homeless and going from house to house and couch to couch with her mother, another youth has a mother who struggles with addiction, and another is being raised by her grandparents while her mother is in prison.
Many of these kids have never traveled outside of the state, and have never experienced an authentic worship especially for youth their age. I know that this experience will transform their lives and they will know how valued they are in the eyes of God. It will boost their self-esteem as they will know how value they are through the love of Jesus Christ, and know that through Jesus, they can overcome any hardship. Any donation you can offer is greatly appreciated!
With deep gratitude,
Pastor Holly Sortland