"He was in jail for like, 25 years," said Lawry. "He was just telling us about how he did like every drug in the book, and that he promised his parents he would make it out, and he'd keep doing good things."
Overall, Lawry said that he had enjoyed his time serving on the streets, and that "working with the homeless is like working to get closer to God."
Young adults who have graduated from high school are also able to participate in Encounter's service camp. Unlike the youth participants, young adults are able to pick their service site. Christine Johnson, an 18-year-old who attends the University of Maryland, chose Holy Foods Pantry.
This is Johnson's fourth time doing Encounter. "It's been probably the best four weeks of my life, every year. I've just met so many amazing people," she said. Holy Foods was her favorite site "by far," even though she had no idea what to expect when she first arrived.
She said she's watched her group mates mature over the week, and they were able to overcome their initial apprehension about talking to homeless people.
Inner-city DC is very different from where Johnson grew up, and she said she has very much grown from her week serving on the streets.
"Despite the fact that we're bringing them lunches and we're talking to them, every time I interact with someone I just feel like I've gotten so much more from them than I'm able to give them," she said.
Johnson told CNA that she has encountered Christ through her service work.
"We do this thing at the end of the day where we go around in a circle and we all say our 'God sighting' for the day," she said. "I feel like I have so many every day from this site, just because every person I meet says something and I am like, 'That was Jesus speaking through you.'"
Encounter has given Johnson much hope for the future of the Church in the United States, and it makes her happy to see hundreds of young people gathered together to serve the Lord.
"When someone is up on stage playing music, and everyone in the crowd is like swaying together and screaming the words together--you can see in their faces they know what it means, and they're so happy to be here," she said.
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"It's the future of the Church, and it looks pretty bright to me."
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.