Two years ago, a group from First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls took what is known as the Urban Plunge. Through this non-profit organization, the congregation sent several individuals to Omaha, Neb. to serve in some of the down and out parts of that city. The experience was such a positive one that the church opted to make a return trip this past November, with 20 people traveling to perform various service projects.
According to Scott Prouty, First Presbyterian Church pastor, Urban Plunge is a great way for the church to be serving and doing mission work closer to home, adding the congregation has been very supportive of the project.
The group left Redwood Falls on a Friday and stayed until Sunday giving them plenty of opportunities during the weekend to serve people in need of a meal, clothing or just someone to talk to, as well to help organizations ensure their work can continue.
“We stay in a dorm that used to be a school for the deaf,” said Prouty, adding a Christian individual purchased the building to allow groups to use it as they serve the community.
Laura Kohler said the trip is an eye-opening experience for those there for the first time.
During the trip the group had the chance to give out 250 hygiene kits it brought along, with donations for those kits coming from the people in the community.
The group also included a number of youth, with some as young as fifth grade. Matthew Prouty and Kyron Mammen made their second trip to Omaha.
“We went to a lot of different places and met a lot of people,” said Mammen, adding on one occasion he was able to interact and pray for a lady he said was having a rough day.
Matthew Prouty and Mammen both agreed that as you work with the homeless people you learn that a lot of the stereotypes of people like that are just not true.
“These are just people who don’t have a place to live for whatever reason,” said Matthew.
Andrew Stephens went on the trip for the first time, and he said the experience was a lot different than he expected.
“We gave stuff to them, but I think a lot of them gave something back to us,” said Stephens.
During the time the group was in Omaha, they had the chance to work with a food distribution program similar to the church’s Ruby’s Pantry program but on a much larger scale.
The group also traveled to a ranch where animals that have been abused are taken in and given a home. Those animals are also involved in a program helping youth who also have been abused or are in need of therapy.
Time was spent serving food and sorting donated clothing, with the group staying very busy the entire time they were in Omaha.
Andrew, Matthew and Kyron all agreed this is a very positive experience, and each of them also hopes to do it again in the future.
“Every person you meet has a story,” said Kohler, adding many of them had a home, a job and a family at one time. It’s sad and a little bit scary to see how quickly all of that can change.”
Scott Prouty said the kids who went along were amazing.
“They worked their tails off,” he said, “and they never complained. They all were ready to pitch in.”
The church continues to serve locally and abroad, and the Urban Plunge is just one of many ways it is sharing the good news with those who need to hear it.
Photo: Julia Prouty (front left), Laura Kohler, Sydney Gertsema, Victoria Jorgenson, Grace Caraway, Scott Goodyear (back left), Scott Prouty, Paige Paplow, Madison Harvey-Beeman, Amanda Milhausen, Curt Meyers, Nadia Myers, Samantha Gertsema, Kassie Sweetman, Lindsey Caraway, Keegan Mammen, Corrine Gertsema, Kyron Mammen, Andrew Stephens and Matthew Prouty took part in the mission work in Omaha.