Story by Cristina Macena

During the mission trip, the teens ran a street Vacation Bible School (VBS) in Newark, where they sang, played, helped and ministered to kids visiting the park with their parents. They also cleaned city streets and shared their faith.Paulo Macena, youth director, shares, “This was a pilot project, but since it worked so well, we will do it every year. We are challenging the youth in New Jersey to give one week of their summer vacation to participate in our local mission trip [where they will be] trained in leadership skills and serve the community they live in.”

Volunteers clean the streets of Newark.

Although only 14 teens participated this year, dozens have asked to join next year, Macena reports. Jessica Branda, 17 and a member of the Wayne church, says, “This experience brought so many benefits for my life: spiritual growth, so much fun and an opportunity to be a light in a stranger’s life.”

Nicole Medina, 16 and a member of the Tranquility Valley church in Andover, shares: “During the week we spent together, we became a family, a family that takes care [of] each other and that cares for others around us. It was an amazing experience!”

 (back left) Pablo Del Puerto, Troy Sereno, Lance Sereno, Josnel Lache, Yuri Leme,  Joslen Lache, Sebastian Campos (bottom left) Paula Macena, Karla Torres, Luisa Macena,  Reina Zapata, Jessica Branda and Marcela Oliveira participate in the “My City My  Passion” mission trip.