Friday, February 05, 2016

Many People:One Team

Over my last 3 years with CSM, I’ve been able to see how beautiful teams can be. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been a part of one of those teams in some way – and all I can say is thank you! As I settle in to working in a new CSM office in a new city, I’m overwhelmed by how appropriate our many:one theme is in my current season. It takes so many people to make this work. So many teams, so many ministry partners, so many communities who come together to serve this one city. And this pattern repeats itself all over the country in our CSM communities an on a much larger scale, this repeats itself in every community around the world!

When I sit in awe of how God’s children are committing themselves to serving Him by serving their neighbors, I’m overwhelmed by how He loves us and cares for us, but I get frustrated by our divisions, too. Whether it’s language, or an invisible line on the ground that divides our neighborhoods, towns, counties and countries - there are so many barriers to community in our world. I begin to wonder what it would look like if we were able to be in union with all of our neighbors. What if there were no barriers? If we all spoke the same language? If we all shared a culture? I was thinking through this the other day, and my mind wandered to the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.  The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Genesis 11:1-9
Even when I think that the things that make us different set us against each other, God knows better. When we come together, nothing is impossible to us, and that’s dangerous – because we don’t know enough. We don’t have the full picture. We don’t know the whole story. Our differences protect us from harm and encourage us to learn. We can never think that we have the full idea, because there are whole cultures we’ve never met before. There are languages we don’t know, there are places we’ve never been. God keeps us from thinking that we hold all the power and knowledge, so that when we are truly together as one, it will be in eternity – where we have a more full understanding of the power of God.

I pray that as we live in a time and a place where our speech and our language is confused, that we will work humbly through our misunderstandings and with appreciation for our differences. I pray that we’ll share our cultures and receive others with joy. Rejoicing in our differences and appreciating our uniqueness. I pray that we will love well and be a family of many, learning how to live as one.

- Jessica Fothergill, CSM Washington DC City Director

Thursday, January 28, 2016

City Highlight: Philadelphia

A few months ago, I was invited to a community dinner at a local church. I went to it unaware of what I was committing to be a part of. I knew that there was going to be a meal of sorts and that it would serve those who were connected to the homeless population. I imagined a soup kitchen scenario – me serving those who had less than me materially. However, as soon as I peeled back the doors of the church, I was met with hospitality. We all cooked together and served each other. The table was a gathering place. I sat across from women who experienced things that I could never even imagine – living out of their cars, being abandoned, being disregarded because of their physique. Yet, our differences were not the focus. Our purpose was to eat together and to share stories and to celebrate the unity that comes not from sameness, but from openness. I heard stories of new knitting projects, of the shamble of the Philadelphia school system, of new personal achievements. As I looked around the table, I tasted community – utter reliance on one another for the reminders of the joys of living.

Moments like these remind me of why I love working at CSM; there is a constant drawing together of groups of people who would not typically interact and a breaking down of physical, economic, and racial barriers that so often keep us in our familiar spaces. I’m continually humbled to be a part of such a community.

This is just one example of a day where I have felt overwhelmed with joy to the point of tears about the way that the Lord is working in Philly. My greatest desire is for you to be part of it too; that you could see, hear, feel, and take part of the stories of people who have utterly captivated my heart.

Consider this an invitation – will you join us?

Brittany Nyce, CSM Philadelpia City Director

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Things You Can Do if You Serve in Philadelphia

That you can't do anywhere else!

1. Eat a cheesesteak.

Let’s face it, they’re just not as good anywhere else.
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2. Stand where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed! 
Some amazing history happened in this city, and you can go see a lot of it for free.

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3. Recreate scenes from National Treasure 
Philly takes the silver screen with this blockbuster hit. Check out different places where Nicholas Cage discovered clues to our nation’s history.

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4. Watch our city transform an abandon railroad track into a park 
The old Reading Viaduct line sits abandoned above our Prayer Tour route. Friends of the Rail Park are raising money to turn it into a beautiful public space that will serve the city for years to come. Check out the beautiful video of abandonment turned to beauty right in Center City.

5. Meet some amazing ministry partners

There isn’t anyone in the world quite like a true Philadelphian.  They may seem rough on the exterior, but more often than not, they have a heart of gold.  Our ministry partners are hard-working and hope-filled.  They have dedicated countless hours to helping others in their city, and we would love for you to meet them!

Come serve with CSM in Philadelphia!