[x_blockquote type=”left” style=”font-size: 100%;”]From the CROSS BlogA periodic check-in from our CROSS Interns, who dedicate their summer to help guide visiting youth groups as they serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, children’s programs, and other agencies that serve our neighbors in need.[/x_blockquote]Following the end of my first semester away at college, I came home to Charlotte to a city I had visited twice, a church I’d been inside of once, and a home I had never seen.

This served as quite the shock, and I found myself sitting at home, watching countless hours of HBO and Netflix, feeling bad for myself. A couple of times the topic of “What’re your plans for the summer?” came up around dinner tables or at Christmas parties, and I had no idea how to answer. I figured I could try and find a job at a country club, or maybe deliver pizzas like I did over the course of my senior year of high school, but then I stumbled upon CROSS. My Dad had mentioned the program once and I saw that they were accepting applications for the upcoming summer, so I figured “Ah, why not? There’s no harm in applying.” I could never have imagined what this summer became or the journey that this program would take me on.

Following being offered a position on the intern team, I was fairly excited. Not only would I be able to start to learn my way around this strange new city, but I also would be able to (hopefully) make some friends who I could spend the summer with. The interns all started adding each other on social media, sending introductory emails, and began the impatient wait for the summer to start. Upon our arrival at the Cornerstone on May 24th, I don’t think any of us (even Aaron Mantia, who was returning for his second summer as an intern) had any idea of how close we were going to become over the course of eleven short weeks.That evening, we had our first ‘family dinner’ at Providence Road Sundries, and our incredible journey began.

[x_pullquote type=”left”]That evening, we had our first ‘family dinner’ at Providence Road Sundries, and our incredible journey began.[/x_pullquote]

From Thursday nights at Cookout, to playful volleyball games at Charlotte Rescue Mission, to homemade sugar scrubs at the Waltonwood retirement community, the faith of each and every member of the intern family has grown and strengthened. Through interactions we’ve had with people like Duke, Alex, Bruce, Quan, Anita, Gregg, J.T., Estee, Kristi and so many others, God’s light has shone so brightly this summer that it is abundantly clear we were all meant to be in this place, both serving and being served by our neighbors that inhabit the city of Charlotte.

Over the course of this summer I have fallen in love with the city of Charlotte and gained a family that stretches from Myers Park all the way up to Mooresville and all the way down to Jacksonville, FL. I have learned the philanthropic spirit of a city that has given so much, and yet saints still continue to push forward in the fights against poverty, hunger, injustice, and persecution.

I owe this to the CROSS program, so to my fellow interns, Tony, Liz, Emily, MK, Aaron and Sarah, thank y’all for the summer of a lifetime.

I know for a fact that the bond we’ve formed over the course of these weeks is incredibly special and unique, and the memories we’ve made this summer will stay with us for a lifetime. To Joel Tomkinson and Laura Grier, thank y’all for your invaluable leadership in helping us find our way through the summer. God’s light shines so brightly through the two of you, and you two have a gift for helping people to find the path they belong on. To the staff of Myers Park Presbyterian Church, thank you for putting up with us college kids and the kids we’ve been leading this summer, this church is an incredible place with incredible people working within its’ walls, and it’s been the treat of a lifetime to work alongside such an amazing team. To our 40+ ministry site partners, thank you for allowing us to come and serve the people of Charlotte alongside you. The ministries we have served this summer embody the great spirit of this great city, and have played a large part in making this summer as special as it has been.

Finally to the members of Myers Park Presbyterian Church, thank you for hosting the many CROSS groups over the course of this summer, and thank you for feeding the interns for our Tuesday night bible study. This program couldn’t run without you, so thank you for how generously you have given. As I have said before, this summer has been something truly special, and I look forward to seeing the work that future intern families and CROSS groups can accomplish through this great program.

Peace ‘n Blessings,

-John Clifford

John is one of seven CROSS Interns living in the Cornerstone house this summer. CROSS Interns dedicate their summer to help guide youth groups as they serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, children’s programs, and other agencies that serve our neighbors in need.