Fourteen men and women from Franciscan University will be heading to Chicago in less than a month to serve men who are involved in survival prostitution.
The mission team, led by Noe Carrasco and Emily Graham, will work with Emmaus Ministries to serve men who have been sexually exploited as well as those who have been significantly affected by poverty, abuse, drugs and alcohol. The team will cook for and share meals with these men, pray for them, and take them on outings around Chicago.
“The motto of Emmaus Ministries is ‘Walking the road, awakening hope, welcoming men to table,” said Graham. “We take part in that mission by stepping into the lives of these men and loving them as family.”
Both Carrasco and Graham went on the mission last year and said that they were very transformed by it.
“My favorite part of the mission is learning to look at a very dirty and tainted situation with love and compassion,” said Carrasco. “I want to invite people to open their hearts in a new way, especially in this Year of Mercy. That is what this mission is all about – mercy! It is about learning how to love those who seem to be most unlovable, embrace the rejected, and love as Christ loved.”
Graham said, “By the second day of meeting the guys at Emmaus last year I felt like they were brothers to me. Seeing their hope and their joy really taught me better how to hope and really transformed me. It was a really powerful experience and one that has stuck with me.”
This year, the mission team has much work to do to prepare. They have to be ready both spiritually and emotionally for the work they will do and have spent a lot of time praying together as a family.
“It’s so important to be spiritually prepared because you see and hear a lot of difficult things there, but more than that, you want to be the best vessel possible for the Holy Spirit to do his work,” explained Graham.
Carrasco added, “Primarily we must pray with lots of love and trust, and allow the Lord to form us spiritually.”
In addition to spiritual preparation, the team has a goal of raising $14,000. They currently need about $5,000 more to reach their goal.
“I hope to simply allow the Lord to be the one who impacts these men that we serve,” said Carrasco. “There is nothing special that I have to do besides be genuine and loving towards these precious sons who are so close to the heart of our Lord. Honestly, these men and this ministry impact me more then any impact that I could have.”
Graham said, “As simple or cliché as this may sound, I just want these guys to know that God loves them and that we do as well. … They matter to him, and they matter to us.”