Three basketball players were among 13 Sheboygan Christian students that recently completed a missionary trip to Atlanta that they will likely not forget.
“I’ve never really seen that many homeless people,” said junior guard Justin Hendrikse. “People that are living in tents. Like we walked around the capitol, and a block away there was probably 20-30 homeless people that had just a sleeping bag or a cot they were laying on. I’ve never seen so many people that were going through that.
“Here in Sheboygan, there’s not near as much as that kind of stuff. It was very eye-opening.”
Teammates Will Grasse and Eli Johnson, also junior guards, agreed.
“You come back and you almost feel guilty because you have so much that you just take for granted,” Grasse said.
Christian teacher Chris Hendrikse and his wife left with the students on New Year’s Day and drove non-stop in one large van.
The destination for a few days was 7 Bridges to Recovery, a home for 105 women and children and a program for 25 men that have been rescued from the streets, according to its website.
Some of the workers at 7 Bridges left quite the impression on Grasse.
“The way they acted, I think I’ll remember that the rest of my life,” he said. “There was something about them. Like they’re so happy. …
“To think that was them (homeless) like a year ago is crazy, like they’re such good role models, it’s insane.”
The students slept on air mattresses in the connecting church.
They made lunches every day and took vehicles to the streets to distribute their food as well as coats, socks and blankets, and then prayed with the homeless.
Upon their return, they did chores around the ministry or played with the children there.
Justin Hendrikse says the trip helped him realize how blessed he is to have a house and not worry where his next meal will come from.
“It doesn’t look like they have anything,” he said.