Wednesday, November 18, 2015

34 Days In

The following is an update from CSM Los Angeles' 2015-2016 Apprentice, Lilian. Please be sure to follow her journey and consider giving towards CSM's Apprenticeship Program.
34 days in.
The first month of my apprenticeship program has gone by. I’m still in awe of how God works - placing me all the way on the other side of the United States in Los Angeles.
Spent the first month getting settled into a new season (no longer a CSM host but an apprentice now). Hosted a California and then an Arizona group. Virtually met the other eight CSM apprentices (New York City, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco Bay area) and apprentice coordinator. Met with my ministry site volunteer coordinator to discuss my involvement with their organization for the next ten months. Boy, was I excited to hear that I get to shadow almost every position they have to see how their organization work and learn how they are equipping families to stay out of the cycle of homelessness. Entered into a mentoring relationship with my directors where we talked about my goals for the next ten months, my responsibilities as an apprentice (a bunch of fun stuff), and finalized on my personal mission statement.
For the last nine summers (plus some spring and fall seasons), I have been a part of my home church’s vacation bible school and after school ministry. So it was easy to jump right into Door of Hope’s after school program last week- helping with students’ homework, facilitating free time, and building a relationship with each child.
Just thinking about the possibility of what tomorrow or the next week or the next month holds for me, I am super excited to wake up and get right to it!
Enjoy these photos and I hope to be TAKING and posting more photos in the following weeks:
Served with a CSM group at Los Angeles Regional Food Bank where we sorted through a ton of food that will be donated to non-profit organizations around LA.
A morning activity with a previous CSM group called “Pastries in the Park” where the group gets to interact with people experiencing homelessness and share pastries and a word of God.
Me biking at Hermosa Beach with the little biking skills I have from growing up in a metropolis.
My ministry partner for the next ten months, Door of Hope in Pasadena.
Snacks ready to be eaten by the children at the after school program.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Urban Farm Sprouting in Oakland

Elaine Brown has created something both promising and powerful. By generating farming jobs in a forgotten community for those who people consider a loss cause, Elaine has sent hope and health to West Oakland. I love her project and what it means for West Oakland, it is both inspiring and affordable. She is teaching the people in the community the importance of healthy and fresh eating, while giving second chances to prisoners. Elaine’s project is transforming West Oakland and reestablishing it so that the world can be reminded of the beauty and family neighborhood feel that it was once known for.  

I am hopeful and praying for success for this project, based on the potential I already see so far. Elaine Brown saw a problem in her community and found a way to bring forth a solution that helps reestablish and reintegrate ex-prisoners, as well as positively impact the health of the neighborhood residents. For this, I am fortunate enough to witness this as a CSM Bay Area Apprentice, and hope that we maybe able to partner with them one day in the future.

AshleySan Francisco Bay Area Apprentice

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Reflecting on Summer Highlights in the Bay Area

CSM San Francisco Bay Area City Directors, Apprentice, and Summer Staff
Dan Reeve, the President of CSM, came to meet this past summer's staff and help with training for a couple of days. One of the highlights from training was hearing him say, “This job, CSM, is not your life. Christ is your life.” (Colossians 3:1-4) Later in the week, one of our staff was still in awe that the president would come to meet them and say that. His visit made a big impact on our team and “Christ is your life” became our unofficial theme for the entire summer.
We did a lot of praying this summer and every week at the beginning of our staff meetings we shared what God had been teaching us over the last week.  It was a rich time of connecting before being sent out to minister and host groups. We look forward to hearing about where God leads each of the “hosts” beyond their season with CSM.  They are a dynamic group wanting to follow Christ and minister to others.  

Another highlight from this last season, has been what has developed  from a desire of Jason’s heart. For a few years now, he's wanted to find churches to partner with and prayer walk in their communities. This became a reality this summer through a church called SF Mission with Brent Kompelien.  The idea was sparked for Kim at our Winter Training in Nashville when a local man shared about the beginnings of the ministry “we” started… “We being just me and the Holy Spirit because there was no one else with us.”  

When we returned home, we heard an update at our church, Solano Community, from Brent who moved to SF a year ago with his wife (Sarah) to plant a church.  He finished, sat down and Jason said, “We need to pray with him.”  Between that and the Barna article recognizing the San Francisco Bay Area is the least churched area in the country, God solidified for Kim that CSM SF Bay Area needs to be partnering with more churches to build the Kingdom of God HERE to have a lasting impact for eternity.  

Brent led 2 hour prayer walks each week, through different neighborhoods around the city, praying for people.  He taught students to prayer walk, stopping to ask what God was drawing to their attention and saw them grow even during this short activity.  SF Mission’s hope is for “a new gospel-centered ‘simple church’ in every neighborhood, within walking distance of every resident of San Francisco.”  

Please pray for SF Mission and for people to come to Christ and live for Jesus in the Bay Area. 

- Kim and Jason Foster, CSM San Francisco Bay Area City Directors

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Life Remembered through Empowering Others

In July 2013, 12 year-old Lydia Kizziar served on a week-long mission trip with CSM Houston alongside her youth group from Carrollton, TX. Her parents, Max and Diane shared:
“Lydia had an amazing week. This was the first time she had done something like this, and she delighted in every minute of it. The balance of various service opportunities from serving food to ministering to children was so rewarding to her. She also loved the teachings and times of worship with the leadership. She returned changed forever. It was like she came back with a real understanding of the importance of her own relationship with the Lord and a desire to serve Him as well as a sense of the great need for it.”
Tragically, Lydia became ill with the H1N1 virus six months after her trip and was received into the arms of her Savior on January 4, 2014, just four months after the 13th birthday. Many gave to her memorial fund and, as “a last act of parenting”, Max and Diane Kizziar sought to honor her memory by directing these funds to ministries that represented their daughter’s values. They chose to honor her memory by supporting ministries that showed Lydia’s heart.
CSM is honored to be a recipient of this fund and hopes to continue honoring Lydia’s beautiful memory by setting up a scholarship that will enable (2) junior-high students to serve on a CSM mission trip each year who, financially, would not be able to otherwise do so.
If you are a CSM group leader and know of an outstanding junior high student that you would like to nominate to receive a $250 towards their CSM trip through the Lydia Kizziar Scholarship Fund, please nominate them on our website.
If you would like to give a gift in honor of Lydia Kizziar towards this fund, please donate on CSM’s website and include “The Lydia Kizziar Scholarship Fund” in the “Additional Information” section of the page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interrupted: Josh Larson

CSM Chicago will be posting a blog series called "Interrupted: The Unexpected Movements of God Working Through CSM's Ministry".  If you have a story about how God interrupted your life through a CSM trip, please email it to!

Often when we look back at our lives, we can see ways in which God has been preparing to lead us in very unexpected directions long before we had a hint of where we may end up. Josh Larson would say that he never expected that he would be working in Englewood, which is known as one of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods, at a Christian after-school program called By The Hand Club For Kids. But, it is very apparent as you listen to Josh’s story, that God has been preparing him for this role long before he even heard of By The Hand.

God has very obviously been giving Josh experiences that have prepared him for this role for many years. It started back when he was finishing his sophomore year of high school. One of his best friends encouraged Josh to work for the summer at a day camp. The camp reached kids from a rougher and lower income part of town than he had grown up in. Josh initially blew off the idea since he had other plans for the summer, but when those plans fell through and his friend’s dad called him up he decided to take the job. That summer he absolutely fell in love with the job and the kids that he was serving. He wound up spending the next six summers at the camp. It was there that God began working in Josh’s heart and giving him a passion for serving kids who may be more difficult to love and lacking people who will invest in their lives long-term.

Going into his senior year of college, Josh was unsure of what he wanted to do next. That previous summer, he had this vague idea that after college he wanted to move to Chicago and find a job where he could learn and experience more of the city and the issues that people, and especially kids, were facing in the city. One of his good friends had spent the summer working for CSM Chicago and encouraged Josh to apply to be a city host.

Josh’s summer as a city host was a life-changing experience. Never before had he thought about issues of racism, poverty, segregation, and social justice in such deep ways. Like many others, these issues had been easy for him to brush aside before CSM helped him to understand the ongoing magnitude these issues have on people’s lives. He was deeply impacted and humbled by all that he was learning. That summer Josh served at a VBS in a homeless shelter. The kids he was serving were living with even deeper needs and in more difficult situations than the ones he had worked with at the summer day camp back home. He loved being able to invest deeply in relationships with these kids throughout the summer. As the summer came to a close Josh realized he had developed a deep love for the city, and felt that he was not yet done with Chicago or with CSM so he chose to apply for the apprenticeship.

Near the end of his summer, Josh got to host a week at By The Hand. Hearing about their mission and vision of holistic ministry to kids excited Josh, and he wound up choosing By The Hand Englewood as his ministry partner during his year-long Apprenticeship with CSM. He would say that it was one of the hardest experiences he’s ever had. At first many of the students responded negatively to his presence, but throughout the year as he continued to serve he began to prove to them that he was sticking around. He learned a lot about what it meant to invest long-term in inner-city ministry, and his heart became more deeply broken for the issues these kids were facing daily.

At the end of his Apprenticeship, he was offered a full-time position at By The Hand Englewood where he is currently a 6th grade team leader. This year is proving to be even more challenging than the past one. If it hadn’t been for all that he learned and experienced while at CSM, Josh knows that he would not be nearly as prepared as he is for his new role. Two years ago he had this vague idea that he wanted to serve underprivileged, urban kids, but there is no way that he would have ended up there without God using CSM to change and prepare his heart for ministry. CSM was one part in a long journey God took Josh on to bring him to the place he is now. It is incredible to trace the ways that God uses different experiences to interrupt our lives and lead us into very unexpected places.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Philly Community Rallies Around Family

Normally when a toddler wakes up  in the middle of the night, they are prevented from getting too far by a crib or a bedroom door. Unfortunately, not everyone has these luxuries to keep their family safe.

Angelique and Michael want to provide for their family, but it's hard in Philly right now.  There aren't many shelters where families are able to stay together, and most of them are full.  So they did the best they could by propping up cardboard walls and lining the space under a building in Love Park, located in Center City.

Unfortunately, their son crawled away and was found wandering in the park in the middle of the night. But now that people have heard, the city is banding together to help this struggling family.  Chosen 300 Ministries, a partner of CSM, is launching a campaign to raise $12,000 in 12 days to help secure housing and services for the family for the next year.  In just two days, the city banded together to raise over $7,800.

Sometimes, situations can seem so bleak. And yet, God can step in and provide a chance for a community to come together and express his love for everyone.

- Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia City Director

After a rallying effort on behalf of the family from yesterday's blog post, they have found an apartment, furniture, services, and plenty of job offers to get them to a place of stability.  The family couldn't believe how willing people were to support them.

"We are taken care of," says the father of the family.  "Now, what are you going to do for the other people that's out there?"