Why I Took My Daughter on a Mission Trip to Philadelphia

Alum Project Leader and Participant Dayna Bickham saw Christ on the streets of Philly during a family mission trip.

No one grows up thinking, “I want to live on the streets.”

Life is tough. Sometimes our choices lead us to dark places and sometimes we just get the short end of the stick. Regardless of our station in life, everyone matters to Jesus. 

When I told people I was heading to Philly on mission trip, I got mixed reactions. Some wondered why I wanted to go to a city in the US to preach the gospel. Don’t you have to go overseas to go on a mission trip? And wasn’t Pennsylvania founded by a man seeking religious freedom? Yes, but it is also a city struggling with a growing homeless population, drug addiction, and poverty – which sounds to me like a place needing the hope and love of Christ. 

So I went. And I took my daughter with me.

Throughout our time in Philly, I saw God’s grace and love in action. 

Like at Cast Your Cares, a ministry committed to helping the poor and the outcasts in Philadelphia.

As people shuffled up to the gate to see what they could get that day, I watched my daughter prep bags for food donations. Other teammates unloaded groceries and organized hundreds of pounds of dry goods in a food pantry. Some members got to interact with local kids who came up for free food and socks. These small things may mean the difference between starvation and a full belly, between blisters and unprotected feet. The streets are a hard place to live. Just small moments of love and gifts of kindness go a long way. 

Especially since we serve a God who multiplies.

Best of all were the conversations. That day, I met Chip. He’s a tinkerer, the kind of person who makes and fixes just about anything. He came for socks and food, and shared his story with me. And I won’t forget him.

On another day, we found ourselves in a different neighborhood of the city. Fish Town is a place where kids grow up too fast – exposed to drugs, violence, and poverty from birth. But that day, they just got to be kids.

Bubbles made four-year-olds squeal in delight. A simple sock made bubble beards for Project Leaders and kids alike. A simple hopscotch outline brought smiles to everyone’s faces. 

But the real joy was watching these kids learn about the Lord. 

They learned God not only saw them where they were, but he loved them and even knew their name. They learned that Jesus cares about individuals and befriends even the worst people. People like Zacchaeus. People like you. People like me. 

Led by families from all over the US, kids learned songs, Bible verses, and received one-on-one attention they desperately needed.  

From prayer walks, park ministry, homeless ministry, and VBS, this week I was reminded that while Jesus came to save the world, he loves individuals. And that he uses us, his people, to show his goodness throughout the world – whether that is in another country or just down the street in our hometowns – to draw men and women to Him. 

Do you feel called to share the gospel in Philadelphia this summer? Click here for student trips, here for adult trips, and here for family trips.