Article courtesy of LA Watts Times on August 6, 2009.
Writen by Pat Munson.
For nearly 30 who recently left South Los Angeles to visit Washington D.C., and its environs, it was a first-class trip all the way around. And that was partly because of Rejected Stone Christian Fellowship church in Los Angeles, which aims to make sure its children and adults experience American's beauty firsthand.
We want to take the kids out of their environment, to inspire them, and to let them know that the world is bigger than their block," Pastor Walter Davis said. "Our goal and our purpose is to help people with their self-esteem. Travel is an educational component of our ministry."
...the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. That stone is Jesus!
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* In the triune God - The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit
* Jesus Christ is a divine person
* All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are in need of salvation
* Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all men
* Healing is provided in the redemptive work of Christ, and is available to every believer
* It is the will of God that every believer be filled with the Holy Spirit
* In water baptism and the observance of the Lord's Supper
* The Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired words
* The Church consists of all those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior
* In the personal, visible, imminent return of Jesus Christ
In 2009, 52 members of Rejected Stone (28 children and 24 adults) boarded an AirTran plane on July 28th for a four-day trip to Washington D.C. For some this was their first trip on an airplane, and for others it was their first time out of Los Angeles.
While in Washington D.C., the Rejected Stone members visited the Smithsonian Institution, the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, Howard University, Department of The Treasury, the White House, and the United States Capitol building.
"On the tour of Howard University, we had excellent tour guides, young black males, juniors in college shared their experiences of what they had to overcome to get to where they are," Davis said. "That is what we're trying to do: enlarge the children's view of life and what they are capable of doing. We want to teach them that you can have a goal and complete it." Another highlight of their trip was a visit to the Department of The Treasury, where the group witnessed the printing of millions of dollars of $100 bills. "It was fun and very interesting to see them make all those stacks and stacks of $100 bills," said 13 year old London Edwards, a student at the Accelerated School in Los Angeles.
Before leaving Los Angeles, Davis tried to secure a visit to the White House for the entire travel party, but that wasn't possible. After making some calls, Davis contacted congresswoman Diane Waterson (D-CA, 33rd District), who managed to get six of the children in for a tour of the White House. Names were pulled from a hat and Edwards was one of the lucky ones. "I learned a lot of things and saw a lot of things that I thought I'd never see... Going to the White House is something that not too many people get to do," Edwards said. "I feel really blessed. The White House was really beautiful and I really liked the Blue Room and the Red Room".
For those who didn't make it into the White House, there where no shortages of adventures. Davis said that they visited the Capitol while Congress was in session, with Jesse Jackson Jr. at the helm, sitting in for Nancy Pelosi. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who just happened to be in the Capital Rotunda when the group arrived, stopped to greet and pose for pictures with the visitors.
Another highlight of their trip was was a visit to Ben's Chili Bowl, a prominent black-owned eatery that has been in business for 50 years and made famous when Barack Obama ate there. While checking in at LAX before leaving, several of the children, when asked what they were looking forward to on their trip, talked about flying for the first time and swimming at the hotel's pool once they arrived in D.C. Others had loftier goals in mind.
Nine year old twins Jonathan and Joseph Branch, students at South Park Elementary School in Los Angeles, said this was the first trip on an airplane and they just wanted to have lots of fun, swim, see Obama and meet his two daughters. They didn't get to see the president or his daughters, but they undoubtedly had a lot of fun and history-learning adventures.
"Everyone loved it. The trip was a great success," Davis said. "At church on Sunday, the children had a chance to stand up and talk about the trip. Mothers were in tears because they couldn't envision a vacation like this with their children based on their income."With a cost of nearly $40,000 for the trip - raised through car washes, fish frys, raffles and a gospel brunch - Davis said he sees the value of the effort and will continue their fundraising for the planned 2010 Grand Canyon trip.
"The children put in some work as well - 97 percent of them come from single-mother homes with no contact with their fathers," Davis said. "They help with the fundraising, which teaches them you don't have to wait for someone to do for you. You can set goals and reach them."
"Jesus looked at them and said, "Then what does this Scripture mean? 'The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone"
And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised Him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to His Name.