Partnering in Redemptive Work

by Justin Burkholder, summer intern with South Philly’s Indonesian congregations

Last week I began my summer ministry in South Philadelphia by getting settled into an action-packed Indonesian household with two exuberant children. I quickly received the warmest welcome a family could possibly give a young adult who they had never met before. The exchange consisted of hospitality and inner peace that rested in the joint vision of seeing lives changed in the community.

The new church building space of St. John Baptist where Indonesian Light Church will share with the Burmese and American congregations.

While growing familiar with the neighborhood and surrounding area, the diverse atmosphere paved way for an attitude of learning this summer. Learning took place as I was fortunate enough to meet the close-knit community of believers that attend Indonesian Light Church. One of the first experiences I had was a beautiful moment of restoring the once-thriving St. John’s Baptist Church to a space that now holds services for Baptist, Indonesian Mennonite, and Burmese congregations. The church now consists of believers of different tongues giving glory to God. It was fitting that my first Sunday here was Ascension Sunday. Among the early church of Acts, the gospel message was to be proclaimed to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Praise God for the witnesses who have called believers from the ends of the earth to worship in the same space in South Philadelphia and beyond.

I am excited to get begin serving with Philadelphia Praise Center’s Peace Camp which runs from June 5-28 on the theme of Serving in Christ. Up to fifty children will join the camp this year for teaching, games, lunch, and field trips.

My experience so far has been lively greetings and a faith community that is active in the community. This experience will grow challenging, tiring, and fulfilling as I discover my role in this community, but I am assured that the leaders and members have the peace of God, surpassing all understanding. God is working in South Philadelphia and it has been a pleasure to join alongside the work of reconciliation.