Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CSM Houston Trip Reflections...

Before my CSM experience I did not realize that…
“There are so many different aspects to poverty. It is far more spread than I thought. My sheltered life had me turning [a blind eye] to the reality that surrounds me.”

“Each homeless person has a story—they are real people who need love & relationships.”

Read more from other CSM trip participants...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Monday, March 30, 2009

1 in 50 U.S. children face homelessness

A recent CNN report announced a staggering number of children in the United States will face homelessness - 1,500,000 kids (or 1 in 50)!
This number is staggering. To think that 1.5 million children will be sleeping in the family station wagon or waiting in line to enter a shelter for the night breaks my heart. What does God say about this?? I think we can look directly at Romans 11:13 -
"Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home."
You've been given a charge! No go and be Jesus' hands and feet to those kids :)
Read the entire report...

Learn how you can serve America's homeless children with CSM!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Chapter for CSM Houston's Associate City Director

It’s with a full and joyful heart that I begin this letter. When I reflect on the last several years of my life, there seems to be one turning point that has defined a great deal: CSM. I can look at my life “pre-CSM” and “post-CSM” and I realize what a difference one summer made. From that first internship as a sophomore in college there were other summers, there was even a full-time job that has been mine for nearly 4 ½ years, but more than those things there has been vision. My time with CSM taught me about God’s heart for the poor, about the needs in our cities, about living my life in a way in which I could be a part of the solution. It’s been an abundant, wonderful, and, at times, difficult journey. I have learned so much about who God is, and in turn, who I am, though my time at CSM.

As I look back on these years in Houston, two things come to mind that have been unexpected and pivotal parts of my experience in the city. Firstly, there is my church – The Houston Vineyard. I remember setting out to “find a church” in Houston. Little did I know, though, that I would find a place of such authenticity and deep relationships – I’ve been challenged there to lead, be creative, learn, grow and stretch in the context of a diverse body of believers and friends who are doing the same. I couldn’t have asked for a better home. The second thing would be Spanish. Although I struggled with the language all throughout high school and college, I found my self surprisingly motivated and determined to learn it as I began my work here. In a city with nearly 47% Latino population, I had plenty of opportunities to practice at work, at church, and in my neighborhood. Suddenly, Spanish was no longer another subject to study, but it was alive and helping me to build bridges!

This all brings us to today. I am getting ready to embark on a new journey – a journey that takes so much of what I have learned and loved the past several years and brings it together. I’ll be moving to Santiago, Chile to partner with a Vineyard church there (Iglesia La ViƱa Las Condes). I’ve been connected with this church for several years through friends at the Houston Vineyard and through my travels to Chile. When an opportunity arose to partner with them in the area of community development, local outreach and missions, I couldn’t help but think twice about it! As the capital city of Chile, Santiago has a population of over 6 million people. Although it’s painful to leave Houston, I’m excited about the opportunity to learn and love a new urban center.

-Megan Breed, CSM Houston Associate City Director

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Love with Jesus

About a month ago, a friend of mine asked me to read a section of a book, "Getting Fired for the Glory of God" It'a a collection of articles by Mike Yaconelli. When I read it, sections of it instantly brought me to tears. So, my friend (being a jerk) went out and bought the book for me.

I finally got it from him yesterday, and I haven't been able to put it down. I've re-read the intro 2x now... and am about halfway through all the articles. I wanted to share something with ya'all, and then talk a bit about how it makes me feel.

This is the introduction, written by Mark Yaconelli (Mike's son). He talks about his dad, and why they put together this book of articles after his death.

"Before you engage in any of this marerial, however, the first thing you should keep in mind is that Dad loved Jesus. I know all of us within the Christian faith are supposed to love Jesus. Many of us who work in the church try to love Jesus and help others love Jesus. But often a more accurate statement is that we believe in Jesus, we have faith in Jesus, we struggle to follow Jesus. Sometime after Dad turned 50, a transformation took place in his life. He went from believing in, admiring, and following Jesus to just plain loving Jesus.

"For his family, those of us most intimate with him, Dad's love for Jesus was often disarming. You might be standing in his kitchen drinking coffee (with potatoes and peppers cooking on the stove), and Dad would start talking about a project he was working on or an insight for a sermon he was preparing. The tone would be light and informal; then all of a sudden, he'd mention the name of Jesus, and his voicewould catch. At first you'd stop to see if he was ok, or if he needed something. Then you'd notice his eyes were wet, and he'd look at you kind of helplessly and shake his head for a moment as he tried to hold back the tears. It was then that you remembered: He really loves Jesus."

Even now, as I type this, I can feel my eyes start to get wet. I begin to wonder why is it that this particular story hits me the way that it does. And, I realize that it has a lot to do with how I wish I could love Jesus. I want to love him so much that it causes me to emotionally react when I hear his name, or I mention him in passing. What if we all loved Jesus that much? The kind of first love that gets so embedded in us that we cannot help but to hold up our hands, turn our heads and swallow a lump in our throat at the mere mention of Christ's name?

Being caught up in ministry can sometimes make us forget the simple reason as to why we do what we do. It pushes us, and instead of leaning on Jesus' strength, we fall back to our own gifts & understanding. A few chapters in, Mike Yaconelli talks in his article, "Where's Jesus?" about a meeting he was attending, where they were going over strategy to outreach to adolescents. They were discussing goals, technology, programs & the such, and they were asked to respond.

"I started to speak, but the words caught in my throat. My tears ambushed me, and I was unable to respond. Taken by surprise, I wondered what my tears were about. Instantly I saw the following mental picture: A man was leaning against the wall a few feet from us. He seemed lonely and sad, like a wallflower at a dance. One look at his eyes, and I could tell he desperately wanted us to notice him, to pay attention to him, to talk to him-but we just went on with our business and ignored him.

"That man was Jesus, of course. There he stood in the midst of our long conversation about strategies, programs, and target markets, and we didn't even notice the very reason why we have these meetings in the first place!"

Today, I think I am going to spend some time away from the business of work... and focus in on the business of being with my first love, my beloved, my Jesus.

-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

Friday, March 20, 2009

Culture & Economy

As an organization, CSM values diversity. We understand that our own worldview is limited, because we only know what we have experienced in our own lives and situations. But when we interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, we begin to see life from another perspective. We learn that perhaps our own views are heavily tinted by wealth, privilege, and North American culture. We embrace who we are and celebrate the ways God has blessed us, but we open our minds and hearts to other outlooks on life. These are some of the core beliefs that drive CSM to place our groups in situations where they get to do just that – interact with other cultures. One way we accomplish this is by taking our mission groups to different ethnic restaurants each night of their trips. Since food is something that’s common to all humanity, we find it is a great way to begin to bridge cultures.
But in these economically challenging times, having our groups dine at local ethnic eateries serves another purpose. Our groups provide much needed income for our friends at our partner restaurants. Fall is a slow season for us, with very few trips. In October, the owner of our Indian restaurant called and asked if everything was ok between us. I assured him that we love his restaurant, and that we’d be back as soon as business picked up for us. We are proud to expose our groups to new foods and cultures, but we are equally as proud to support the local economy in times when people are most in need. Thank God for our groups, who are open to trying new things and willing to invest some of their own resources in our neighborhood businesses.

-Tim and Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago City Directors

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CSM on the News!

A group from Waynesburg College has served with us faithfully over the years and was recently highlighted on the news! Watch the video...
Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

An Irish Blessing for you on St Patrick's Day:
Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Banana Republic Lovin the City

Our New York City Co-Director, Tracee, recently came across this great project Banana Republic pulled together - City Stories. Read and listen to how different artists are inspired by urban centers throughout the globe. The heartbeat of each city really comes through!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Denver Restaurant Dishes out Love

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Battle On...

"The legal battle against segregation is won, but the community battle goes on."
Dorothy Day

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sojourners Article: Breaking Boundaries

Seven ways to build a movement that includes poor and rich.
by Onleilove Alston

"The Jesus movement included everyone from tax collectors to sex workers; it truly was a movement of diversity. In today’s world, I am encouraged to see a movement of Christians who want to “preach good news to the poor.” But all too often, well-meaning progressive Christians from privileged backgrounds attempt to speak for or bring God to the poor. This is a mistake: The poor can speak for themselves, and God is already present in their communities..."

Continue reading this great Sojourner's article!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Housing Hopes in Los Angeles

The LA Times recently ran an article about the Jordan Downs housing, which is directly next to our partner ministry, Lighthouse Church and community center. It has had an oppressive effect on that community for many years. While this might be another false hope for the community, I am praying that the government resources can be used to a very positive end.

It is interesting that their model is Cabrini Greens in Chicago which has displaced many in that community. Our overflow housing site is about a mile south of Jordan Downs.

-Rachel Hamilton, CSM Los Angeles City Director

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wrong Colors, Wrong Time

Gang colors worn by innocent men might be to blame for a shoot and run incident that happened near a Bart station in the San Francisco area. Read the San Francisco Chronicle article...