Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Toronto Ministry Highlight

CSM Toronto partners with a ministry that goes into the homes of Somalian families and tutors children throughout the summer. Many of these families are refugees running from the war that plagues their country.
The Somali people are mainly Muslim, so for us to come in and tutor their children is a big deal. They know that the groups we bring are Christian but they welcome us in and sometimes get flack from their neighbors for letting Christians in their homes.
They believe the only way their children will make it in this culture and stay out of the gang scene is education, so they have their children continue to learn throughout the summer. This is such a ministry opportunity for our groups to live out their faith.
There have been times when family members would openly talk about religion with our groups which have lead to some wonderful conversations about faith.
The ministry that we partnered with has recently expanded their ministry not only to Somali families but to families from Pakistan and India.
This past summer our groups would alternate from Somalian families to families from Pakistan and India.
This year, they want more groups to come. One group would go to the Somalian families and the other group would go to the other families!
Praise the Lord for the expansion of their ministries!! Please pray for this ministry as they expand and pray for CSM Toronto to get more groups in to send to them.
Thanks for your prayers!!!!

-Holly McClement, CSM Toronto City Director

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting Denver's Homeless Youth Off the Streets

A national organization, StandUp for Kids, has launched an outreach to local homeless youth in Denver. Combing the crowds of a local mall, three volunteers search for teens in need of a helping hand. Nearly 1,300 youth call the streets of Denver home and that number is rising.
Read the full story in the Denver Post!

Learn how YOU can serve on the streets of Denver with CSM!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Can You Hear It?

Working in an inner-city church can be discouraging at times. But
sometimes the very problems we see each and every day are the reasons
God has us where we are. This reflection by a church leader who works
in Lincoln Heights (a small city just northeast of Los Angeles proper)
captures the heart of those working towards God's plan in the city.
-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles City Scheduler

Friday, April 24, 2009

Breaking Boundaries

When examining the realities of urban ministry, we can so easily get overwhelmed with the "needs". The best ministry model to look at when thinking about serving the urban poor, is that of Jesus! Sojourner's Magazine has a great article called "Breaking Boundaries" that explores the way Jesus "did" ministry - take a look!

Learn how YOU can serve in the inner-city with CSM!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Laid Off

What's happening to people after they are getting laid off? In some big cities like NYC, many of the people who are losing their jobs in finance and Wall Street are getting involved with local charities. Two articles in the NY Times and the Daily News highlight what some people are doing after the economy has left them jobless.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gardening in South Central LA

Happy Earth Day everyone! As we take this day to ponder how we can best be good stewards of this planet, we want to encourage you to consider urban gardening. Many communities have adapted different models in growing their own food - it's healthy, it's environmentally friendly and it nurtures community! Check out this amazing garden nestled in the heart of South Central Los Angeles:

Learn how YOU can serve in urban centers throughout North America with CSM!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Unlikely Connection

This week, I've been hosting 1/4 of a group from Spokane, WA. I get to host them for 2 1/2 days, and so far... I've been having a blast!

I really have come to love the kids I am with. They are funny, caring, outgoing kids. But one in particular cracks me up to no end. His name is Scotty.

Let me tell you a little about him. He's a white kid from Washington state. He's one of the shortest guys in his group, and is slightly soft spoken at first. During our prayer tour, he mostly looked distracted, so honestly, I didn't know what to make of him.

Today, I was given the opportunity to go to Salvation Army Compton, which was not only my groups first time, but ... mine too.

As we arrive, I am quickly informed that instead of working with kids, we will be doing something else. Apparently, today is Cesar Chavez day, and the kids had no school. I was initially disappointed, because I felt really unsure what my group of 12 was going to do. They might need 4 in the kitchen to help cook dinner, but that didn't start until 4:30, and I had 2 hours to kill.

We get a tour of the facilities, talk a great deal with the workers at the site, and around 4:00, we run out of things to do. Scotty comes up to me and starts asking with great earnest, "Can I go play basketball at the gym?" I remember seeing the gym during our short tour, and I also remembered they had a few people already playing. I said to him, "Sure, see if you can get into a pick-up game." And he bolts out of the room.

Now, remember how I said Scotty was short(er)? Well, on top of that, he doesn't exude the confidence of an athelte. But with a smile like his, how could I tell him to stop.

A few other guys go to join him on the courts, and I start looking for things the rest of the group can do. After about an hour working on various projects, I make my way back to the courts to see how the rest of my group is fairing.

Three of the guys from my group are on the court playing ball. In addition to them, there are about 7 other guys on the court. Not trying to sound too stereotypical, but... there are 7 other players that are in that game... all of them black... all of them 6 ft tall... all of them look like athletic.

But here's the thing I see. I don't see white/black, poor/rich, CA/WA, oppressor/oppressed... I look out across the court, and I see breaking of walls. Scotty takes a shot, and hits a long 3. His team explodes in excitement and joy. You see, Scotty has (once again) hit the game winning shot. One guy starts calling Scotty, "Warning" Cause if he's got the ball, it should be a warning to you that he's gonna hit a long bomb.

Hugs, high fives, laughs, pats on the back are all exchanged. And joy leaps from my heart. I cannot contain the smile. I cannot help but to laugh with everyone else. On his first try, this high school boy was able to break down walls that have stood in LA for centuries. With a passion and willingness to step outside of the norm, Scotty is suddenly "one of the guys."

And ...





-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Generation of Poverty

Shelters and homeless agencies throughout the US and Canada are finding that there's a new generation of poverty rising. Living in such a fragile, and unstable, housing market, has brought many new faces to Gateway, a hostel in Toronto who's clientele are majority homeless. Read a recent article from the Toronto Sun Times about this growing issue...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Toronto!

Friday, April 17, 2009

People in Need help Others in Need

This video was on the news the other night, and I just thought this was a really cool video about the homeless population giving back to the community in Nashville. We work with both Second Harvest Food Bank and with Campus for Human Development which is where the Room in the Inn program stems from. I think its great that the news chose to show how the homeless have decided to help out their community. They titled it "People in Need help Others in Need".
-Kristin Quarles, CSM Nashville Associate City Director

Thursday, April 16, 2009

9/11 Victims Seek Compensation

On many prayer tours at the CSM NYC site, we close near the world trade center. While we pray for the families and people effected by 9/11, we continue to keep those whose health has been effected by helping with the relief projects at the site. An article from nydailynews catches up with Victims Compensation Fund, which stopped in 2005. There has been a struggle to decide if people legitimately need help or if it's too easy for someone to take advantage of.
-Noelle Sefton, CSM New York City Co-City Director

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oakland Neighborhoods Changing

Oakland, CA is rich in culture and ethnic diversity. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle talks about a study researching the use of space among Oakland's ethnic groups. Many neighborhoods are a beautiful blend of many different homelands.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Toronto Entrepreneur Leaves a Good Impression

The owner of Second Cup, a coffee franchise much frequented by our Toronto staff, recently shared his story of homelessness with a group of young adults during Homelessness Awareness Week. Frank O'Dea has overcome many obstacles to reach the point he's at now - quite an example of inspiration for his young listeners.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Soloist shows the real Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known worldwide for its fame. Whether its music stars or movie stars it is known by many as a glamorous place. Well, this next month "Hollywood" is coming out with a movie that depicts a more realistic version of Los Angeles, both the rich and the poor. Not only does the movie depict a more realistic version of LA, but it shows a realistic side of life for some 80,000 homeless in LA county. The Soloist is a movie about two men from very different backgrounds with very different lives that connect on a human level. I want to encourage you to check it out. Here is a link to a portion of the story between Steve Lopez and Nathanial.

-Jon Vales, CSM Los Angeles Associate City Director

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Homeless Families Cope

How has the last year effected kids? MSNBC recently did an article focusing on the growing number of families becoming homeless and it's effect on the students as they are in school.

Learn how YOU can partner with some amazing ministries that serve homeless families through North America with CSM!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Renovated YMCA Brings Life to Brooklyn

Two years ago, a downtown Brooklyn YMCA started a renovation that would take out the pool facilities and install 84 affordable apartments for women making less that $32,000 per year. Here's an article about the women's lives that have been changed! It's an interesting look at the diversity of women who are living in the apartments, and their backgrounds.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bike Rides

So, for the last 6 months or so, I've been hearing about midnight bike rides. They are a trend that started where a bunch of riders get together around 10pm to ride throughout the city. As I understand it, most of the information as to when & where is spread over the internet. It was first told to me by one of my interns, CJ. He was totally excited by it, and I was decently interested. Some of it sounded unreal... why would a bunch of people get together to just bike through the city? Well, some of it is the social part of it. You get to meet a bunch of new people... hang out with a group of people more diverse than most places, and you get to see parts of the city that you probably never saw.

About a month after CJ told me, my brother also started getting into it. He ran in a different town than CJ, but had the same passion and enthusiasm. So after hearing about these crazy rides (and actually having one interupt one of my prayer tours), today I agreed to go to one.

My brother brought me to a ride on the West-side called the Crank Mob ride. It's a once a month ride, and about 500 people showed up!! We went through a bunch of cities; Culver City and Westwood just to name a few. In total, Jeremy and I think we rode around 15-17 miles. Of course, it took us about 4 hours to do it, but that's also because we stopped 2x so people (people like me) could rest, and other people could smoke ("I just rode 10 miles, and I am out of breath, let me inhale some smoke...").

Watching 500 people ride through crowded streets of Westwood was actually one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It's like a wave of people suddenly showing up and disappearing without warning. As they pass by you, they are screaming at the tops of their lungs, honking horns, blasting 4 different songs at once, and ringing those stupid little bike bells. It was funny to see some cars literally stranded in the sea of bikes; stopped waiting for the crowd to pass (which would take a good 5 -10 minutes) There was literally nothing they could do but watch. Many people yelled out as us, "Why are you biking?" "Where are you going?" "What is this?" Store patrons and owners left their restaurants, families came out of their homes, drunk people stumbled out of their bars... to see the spectacle. I could hear many people saying, "It's like it never ends!"

My brother commented to me before the ride started that I would see how it was like we were taking back the streets from the cars, and I suddenly understood as we rode down the street. We outnumbered the cars 100 to 1. It wasn't violent, angry, a protest, or anything... it was just a social event. A good time for people to get together. And as I looked around, I realized, there were no racial barriers here. No social classes. No judging others on what they were wearing, what bike they were riding, what music they were blaring... just commodery.

People would stop to help strangers when others fell, offer tire replacements, or help fixing a bike that broke down. And it was the norm. It wasn't strange, awkward, or uncomfortable.

Around the end of mile 2, I was exhausted!! But a couple people pulled up and encouraged me to keep going, and it would be easier. They were right! I started laughing with them as we rode together, and the ride became easier. I started yelling along with everyone cheering on our ride, and I felt included with the group.


This isn't a perfect model, but as we were driving away, I started wondering, what if Church was like this? Not my church or your church, but Church, the bride of Christ, the witness to the world for what God has taught us?

What if:
... when someone new came to the group, they were welcomed with smiles and warm "hello"s?
... as people fall, others stop to make sure they are ok.
... we, as a group, stop once and awhile to rest, dance, and laugh
... stop divinging our church by race, class, sex, age, intellect, or denomination.
... when someone gets tired, strangers can come alongside to encourage & cheer us on.

If that happened, wouldn't others stop and say, "What is this?" "Where are you going?" "Why Christianity?"

Think about it...

-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

Thursday, April 02, 2009


A recent article in the Washington Post reports that the HIV/AIDS office of Washington, DC finds that at least 3% of DC residents have HIV or AIDS. The District is considered to have the highest rates in the country and an article in the Washington Post calls it a severe epidemic. To read more about the situation, check out this article.

-Kristen Erbelding, CSM Washington DC Associate City Director

Learn how you can partner with ministries that serve those affected by HIV/AIDS through CSM!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NY Times Slideshow: The United Nation of Queens

The NY Times recently highlighted a 2 year project by Frank Gohlke and Joel Sternfeld to photograph neighborhoods in Queens, showing the diversity of people. The population in Queens in recent years has grown quite a bit and become one of the most ethnically diverse areas. Check out the slideshow, and see Queens!
The United Nation of Queens

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York!