FHN Freshmen Attend Mission Trip to Inner City St. Louis

Freshmen from FHN went on a mission trip to inner city St. Louis over spring break to help people in poverty


Students gather in front of a house in St. Louis while doing service work on their mission trip. (Photo submitted)

By Ashlynn Perez

Students had spent the whole morning working in the garden. A few lined bricks around the mulch, some organized the tool shed and others carried sticks and brush to the recycling bin. It was raining hard on the street in north city St. Louis, but it did not hinder the group of freshmen.

The students joined Harvester Christian Church on a mission trip for four days during spring break. FHN freshmen Medjine Gibson, Chloe Horstman, Grace Kies, Jaylon Petit, Connor Ray and Tyler Windsor were with them. While in the city, students partnered with an organization called Under the Same Tree (UTST), which works with women in countries like Kenya, Uganda and Syria.

“I loved getting to talk with Syrian refugees,” Ray said. “I got to learn about their culture and what they went through to get to America. It was really cool, and it was an experience I won’t forget.”

Students worked in gardens and were educated on how to work with people in poverty. They got the chance to eat and talk with refugees from Syria, orchestrated by Katie Gresham, the founder of Under the Same Tree. Gresham founded the organization in 2013 because of her passion for assisting women out of poverty. Staff and volunteers organize micro finance loans for the women so they can start their own business and make a self-sufficient income. Gresham was excited to have teenagers taking part in UTST over spring break.

“I loved every minute of [working with UTST],” Kies said. “It was an amazing experience. The organization did so many cool things to help us see the community of St. Louis.”

The goal of the trip was to change the students’ perspective on mission trips. According to Kies, it helped changed their idea of missions – painting churches or cleaning schools – to a more relational view. While they did some labor on their last day through the gardens, the majority of their trip was talking with refugees or families in poverty and learning.

“I thought that missions had to be out of the country and a big deal, but you don’t have to go across the world to make a difference,” Kies said.

Although the mission trip was only four days long, Gresham believes that a change was made in the community of St. Louis through the teenagers.

“It takes ordinary people to create change that’s real and lasting,” Gresham said. “We’re doing work with people in poverty that is real, smart and intentional. We’re changing lives for the long term. It doesn’t take wealth or age to change a life.”