Monday, October 13, 2014

Shifting Perspectives on Homelessness


Each week, when groups come to CSM Philadelphia for service we start with a prayer tour of Philadelphia. We seek to understand the places both of brokenness and of God's light in the city. At one stop, we pray for the homeless of Philadelphia, around 4,000 people, and try to empathize about what that might look like.

One of our partners, Bethesda Project, helps to provide resources for the homeless by reaching them where they are at and responding to their specific needs. Today, they sent out a list of facts about homelessness from across the country.

Why do you think someone might be homeless? Sure, there are a variety of reasons, but it turns out that most homelessness is caused for the simple reason that a person cannot find anywhere to live that they can afford.  Especially in urban centers in the US, there just aren't enough options for those with low incomes.

Here are some other facts. Try to think of them this way: how many Facebook friends do you have - maybe 500, or 1000, or even 2000? I've got 758. Now, think of how many friends don't have housing:

-There are 610,042 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. That's 805 times as many Facebook friends as I have.
-Of that number, 222,197 are people in families without homes. That's almost 300 times the number of Facebook friends I have.
-About 18% of those without housing are chronically homeless (have been homeless before, and sometimes multiple times.)  Imagine if 18% of your Facebook friends were often homeless - for me, that's 136 friends.

How would you treat the homeless if they were your friends? Maybe we can start with a simple prayer and a moment of empathy: "Father of hope, be with our friends."

Then listen to see if God is prompting you to action - that could look like coming on a CSM trip, volunteering in your community, or supporting a local shelter. But praying is the first and best way to connect.

- Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia Associate City Director


Friday, October 10, 2014

TODAY is World Homeless Day

Did you know that today is world Homeless Action Day? People all over the world will gather, advocate and show kindness to their neighbor. Homelessness is an issue that effects countries all over the world.  Read this article to learn about the countries with some of the largest communities of homeless. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Welcome, 2014-2015 Apprentices!

The 2014-2015 class of Apprentices start today and we'd love to introduce them to you! Each of these amazing individuals will be dedicating the next year to serving their city, developing and growing personally through mentoring, partnering with a local ministry and supporting CSM's ultimate mission of providing an effective urban ministry experience.

We invite you to pray for and support these young leaders!

Boston
Alexis Wright–Whitley
Alexis Wright–Whitley 
Alexis grew up in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. In May of 2014, she graduated with a Bachelors in Journalism from Temple University, where she also studied political science and Spanish. During the summer of 2014, Alexis served as a city host in Philadelphia for CSM.
Alexis worked with children from pre–school to high school, starting when she was fourteen years old, through faith–based nonprofit, Ayuda Community Center. From there, she has worked with children through other nonprofit organzations and in a few Philadelphia public high schools, instilling leadership and providing students with art skills. She has always been a strong champion for justice and equality – believing that everyone has the ability to shine like a light in their city, to make a difference and represent the ultimate goal of Christ, love.
Alexis is a self–proclaimed geek/nerd, and enjoys anything revolving around technology and video games. She can also almost always be found snapping photos or videos to add to her portfolio. She is excited to spend her year in Boston, MA as an apprentice, because she desires to show love to a new set of strangers and empower them, while being open to receive the same empowerment.
Alexis’ email address: Alexis@csm.org
Join Alexis’ Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Chicago
Josh Larson
Josh Larson
Josh hails from the city of Rockford, IL. He loves music, food, music, reading, music, good movies/television, music, running, music, being outside, and music. He also loves music. He is passionate about ministering to people through relationship. His heart for helping people has informed many of his decisions over the years, including getting involved in short–term mission trips to Kentucky and Scotland in junior high and high school as well as studying Psychology at Indiana Wesleyan University, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2014. He worked at a day camp for low–income children for several years, and God used this experience to develop a passion in his heart for inner–city children. This passion, as well as his passion for long–term, relational ministry, drove Josh to become a city host for CSM Chicago in the summer of 2014. This experience was life–changing, and Josh now feels drawn to the inner–city, possibly long–term. He feels humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to be the apprentice for CSM for the 2014 to 2015 season, and he hopes that this experience will help him focus his passion for inner–city ministry. He is learning more and more each day what it means to be a child of God as well as what intimacy with God looks like. ​
Josh’s email address: Josh@csm.org
Join Josh’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Denver
Heather Huante
Heather Huante 
Heather graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, in May of 2014. During her four years in Lubbock she had the opportunity to serve in several different capacities; everything from discipleship, leading worship services, organizing retreats for my sorority, serving on different leadership teams, counseling incoming freshmen and so forth. College was definitely the “best four years of her life”, but she is ready for a new adventure, in a new city! A few of her favorite things include creative writing, drinking tea, hiking, biking, photography, making new friends and anything that is remotely adventurous. During the summer of 2013, she served as a city host in Denver and it was during those two and a half months that she fell madly in love with the city and the people she was able to serve and serve alongside of. Heather is excited about being back in Denver and working for CSM as an apprentice; “I’ve missed my street friends and the friends I made at ministry sites. This new season is going to be challenging in a variety of different ways, but the Lord is constant and I am thankful that His plan involved me returning back to the city I love!”
Heather’s email address: Heather@csm.org
Join Heather’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Houston
Elisabeth Netjes
Haley Stinson
Haley is from Arab, AL and is a recent graduate of Athens State University, where she majored in Behavioral Science. Working with kids is something she has always done and is one of her biggest passions. She worked at a daycare for four years and taught dance during that time as well, so she has been blessed to be able to interact with and teach kids of all ages. Haley has always been an active member of her home church and has been serving as a main member of the praise team since she was 16 years old. Music is another one of her greatest passions in life and she will sing and play guitar at any given chance. Haley is quirky, fun, and loves being around people, so after spending the summer of 2014 in Houston as a city host she fell in love with the nature of CSM’s mission and community efforts and wanted to further her work with them by serving as an apprentice. “Growing up in a small town I didn’t have many opportunities, outside of a few mission trips, to experience other cultures or work with the oppressed. Even though there were needy people all around me, it’s just not something that I was ever involved with. As I have gotten older I realize that God has really created me to love and care for others, and I am so grateful for the work that CSM does and for the opportunity to serve with such an amazing organization. I can’t wait to be involved in a new type of ministry that serves its community with such passion and a true heart for God and His people!” Some of Haley’s favorite scriptures are 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, and 1 Corinthians 13. LOVE, LOVE, and MORE LOVE! Haley also loves coffee, crafts and cats, and especially the three things combined.
Haley’s e-mail address: haley@csm.org
Join Haley’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Nashville
Miranda Burr
Miranda Burr
Miranda up in Newbern, TN. She studied English Literature with a minor in Education at Union University in Jackson, TN. She is currently taking time away from school to pursue other passions, such as urban ministry. While most of her life was spent in Tennessee, the Lord has taken her on several adventures that made her fall in love with the world. When Miranda was 18, she spent my summer in New York City working with international students and learning about house church planting. The following summer, she worked in North Carolina where she taught youth at a camp called Lake Junaluska. Miranda also participated in a short trip to Braunschweig, Germany with Union University, partnering with established college ministries. Her most recent missions experience was with the Center for Student Missions, as she spent this past summer in Philadelphia working as a city host. While there, Miranda fell in love with urban ministry, which spurred on her desire to work as an apprentice in Nashville.
While she continues to fall more in love with big cities, she still loves adventuring out in nature. Miranda enjoys hiking, camping, and anything around trees and water. She also loves making new friends and spending time with people. I am always up for an adventure. “I’m excited to see how the Lord deepens my desire to be a part of what he is doing in this setting.”
Miranda’s e–mail address: Miranda@csm.org
Join Miranda’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

New York City
Liz Koenig
Elizabeth (Liz) Koenig 
Liz is a Jersey–girl who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Philadelphia University with a degree in Fashion Design and moved to NYC to work in the apparel industry. As she made her home in the Big Apple, the Lord enlarged her heart for urban ministry and she grew to love the city in all of its complexities. Liz has served in various degrees through her church community, however, the Apprenticeship program will be a new horizon for her. To be at CSM is a very special part of her journey and she is excited to see what God has in store.
Liz’s email address: Liz@csm.org
Join Liz’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!
Ashley Tanner
Ashley Tanner 
Ashley was born and raised in Waco, TX. In May of 2013, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University. She served as a City Host in New York City for both spring and summer seasons prior to becoming the Apprentice. Ashley fell in love with New York as a young girl, and she has seen her love grow while living and serving in the city. Ashley looks forward to getting to serve the people of New York in a deeper and more personal way than she experienced as a host. She already has such a heart for the city and feels strongly that this is where God has called her. Ashley hopes to, one day, start a ministry where she can use her passion for cosmetology, students, and refugees to further God’s kingdom. She also loves to travel and hopes to backpack across Europe before she turns thirty.
Ashley’s email address: Ashley@csm.org
Join Ashley’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Philadelphia
Scott Lasley
Scott Lasley
Scott was born in Charleston, IL, but grew up in Nett Lake, MN. He is the youngest of four siblings. While in Minnesota, he and his family served as missionaries on the Nett Lake Indian Reservation. He is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Communication. He will also be pursuing a Master’s degree in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.
Scott has been on mission trips that have consisted of hurricane relief work, after–school program planning for children and tutoring junior high/high school and college students. He has also had the pleasure of taking part in a CSM trip to Nashville, TN, and serving as a City Host for CSM in Philadelphia since the summer of 2013. While at UIS, Scott served for 2 years on the leadership team of Christian Student Fellowship and led small groups through CSF as well. He loves his niece and nephews, all things coffee, dogs, people, music, bike rides, reading and movies. “Live passionately and love deeply. My goal is to grow and be in an active pursuit of deeper faith and strong relationships with those whom I get to serve in Philadelphia.”
Scott’s email address: Scott@csm.org
Join Scott’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

San Francisco Bay Area
McKenzie Yates
McKenzie Yates
McKenzie is a  passionate and enthusiastic Christ follower from Ripon, CA, approximately 2 hours away from San Francisco, where she will be serving this next year. McKenzie has experience with and loves serving at her home church’s various children and young adult ministries. McKenzie graduated from high school in 2012, and after completing a year of college as a photography major, felt the Lord calling her to the mission field! Since leaving college McKenzie has participated in 4 short term mission trips to Baja California, Mexico, and has walked through every door the Lord has opened for her. One of these doors was serving with CSM as a City Host in Washington, DC during the summer of 2014. McKenzie is excited to watch God move in her life over the next eleven months and cannot wait for all that is in store. 

In her free time, McKenzie enjoys working on photography, drinking coffee, cooking, adventuring in nature, hula hooping, and digging into scripture.
McKenzie’s email address: mckenzie@csm.org
Join McKenzie’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!




Learn more about the CSM Apprenticeship!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Embracing Identity and Equality in Christ


Before I left my hometown of Wichita, KS, to come work at CSM Houston, I promised a lot of people that I would keep them updated. Here are some insights from my first few posts...
           
 “I have spent my whole life hiding behind my misplaced identity. Since taking an extended break from all physical beauty "enhancers", I’ve noticed a sad but very real change in myself. When people allow physical beauty to outweigh inner beauty then character slips are easy and often go unaccounted for. Having a bad day is never an excuse to make people feel any less than what God created them to be: treasures.” (June 4, 2014)

“I occasionally got the opportunity to actually interact and have conversations with the people I was serving. One by one, the stories I heard began to tear down my pre-existing opinions towards these people...We are equally worthy. We are equally human. Most importantly, we are equally loved by the God who created us both, and it is my duty to serve and enable my fellow humans with the resources I have been blessed with.” (June 14, 2014)


I'm learning that these posts are more than just documentations of things that have happened during my time here at CSM Houston - they tell the step-by-step story of my personal growth. 

I came to CSM Houston with a misplaced identity, and a false perception of beauty. Within my first two weeks of being in Houston, I found my identity in Christ and grasped what it truly meant to be beautiful. 

Once I began to embrace my identity in Christ, I began to see the world through His eyes which instantly triggered the change in my perspective towards the people we serve here at CSM. It was during that time period, also, when I began to grasp true equality in Christ.  The dividing walls consisting of social, racial, economic, and religious bricks came crashing down and there was nothing standing in between me and the people I came here to serve. 

Galatians 5:13 started to unfold in my life: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” 

When I started living my life with a servant’s heart, a life full of intentional service to others, the life God intended for me to live, I was changed. Working at CSM is much like a race. Everyone eagerly begins the race with a fast pace, mostly unaware of all the roadblocks along the way. Together, we have learned what a life of service looks like: the beauty, the pain, and everything in between. 

Our race isn't over yet though, guys! My hope is that both myself and my fellow City Hosts are able to finish these last couple of weeks strong, serve with the eagerness of a child, and long for more of Jesus. 

Fight the good fight. Finish the race strong. Live with the goal of hearing The Good Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I will leave you with these words
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). 

Go in peace.

- Morgan, CSM Houston Summer 2014 City Host

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oakland Pastor Encourages Us to Take Multiculturalism Beyond Photo Ops and Potlucks


Dominique Gilliard is a pastor in Oakland and was one of our guest speakers for summer staff training in 2013.  I am always challenged by what he says and the way he follows Christ, even when it's hard.  I appreciate him as a Christian leader in our community.  Dom makes me think and put my faith in Jesus into action. 
Check out this interview with him....

- Kim Foster, CSM San Francisco Bay Area City Director