Monday, August 31, 2009

Section 8 Shortfall Could Leave Thousands Waiting

According to a recent article from NPR, Section 8 (housing assistance for those in need) could be drying up soon. Many families could be left out in the cold as we draw near to the end of 2009. Many of the cities CSM works in could be affected. Please pray for these individuals and families!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Jesus the Messiah - “If salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

Today was the day of the Urban Plunge, which is (in my opinion) the most challenging and eye opening experience for the youth group. I assumed this group would be no different, from their hesitancy and fearful questions, as I explained to them that they would be going out into centers of homelessness in DC to eat dinner with a person in need of a meal. And they would do this all on 5 dollars (which was really only 2 dollars after bus fare to the site and back).

After the five hours or so of exposure to lifestyle of a homeless person, all 15 Jr. High students got back together and I proceeded to discuss their experience (which was really easy to do, as every kid had some story about interacting with the homeless, being rejected by the rich who walked by their pan-handling, or how they had managed to share a meal on only 2 dollars.) After hearing several stories of anger and annoyance at being ignored while asking for help getting a meal or seeing people walk by the homeless without acknowledging they even existed, I pressed the question: how often do we walk by the homeless and not even think twice?

In the blink of an eye, I watched as the group began to back pedal their way out of the question. Excuses poured in just as fast as the excited stories had poured out.

“Well, I have met a homeless man who was a professional pan-handler who made hundreds of dollars. These people want to take advantage of those of us with good hearts.”

“Yea, and once my cousin saw a homeless man with a sign that asked for helping getting food. And she offered to buy him some food at the grocery store and he got angry because all he wanted was her money.”

“Besides, there are no homeless people where we live. I don’t walk by homeless people ever.”

I am no different, as my eyes become more and more jaded to the homeless as the weeks of interacting through CSM with the homeless continue. I still wrestle and struggle with what it means to be salt to the homeless: how can I justify doing urban ministry while at the same time going out to eat on my time off, paying 10 dollars for dinner? How many excuses can I make for refusing a man my spare change, saying I have no money, even though I am going to withdraw money from an ATM?

It is often stated that it only takes a little salt to preserve the food it is put on. It would only take a few Christians committed to being salt in their communities to bring flavor and establish the Kingdom. But when salt has lost its saltiness, its commitment to be Jesus to those around it, and keeps the salt on the shelf or uses it as a table centerpiece, it is good for nothing at all.

What would it take for me to be poured out like salt?

-Alex Thompson, CSM Washington DC City Host Summer 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Back when I was a little tiny two year old with eyes too big for my head and little curls, God had a plan.
He had this summer planned. He knew what He had in store for me serving with CSM this summer and what it would take to get me there. He knew I would be in Nashville and not Chicago. He knew I would struggle with leaving and fall in love with this job. He knew the lessons and healing that I had to learn this summer. He knew that others would have to be obedient to His voice.
And I am so thankful that my youth pastor was obedient to God’s call. He knew back when I was only two that he was to take a group to CSM, not just any urban mission but specifically a CSM trip. Due to churches and locations he was never able to go until he came to our church. I was still too young to be in youth group when they took their first trip to Chicago. Then they went to Nashville. And finally when I was in 7th or 8th grade I went on my first CSM trip to Chicago.
It shaped me in ways I didn’t even realize back then. It broke my heart for a population that I felt was forgotten and overlooked. It opened my eyes to things I just didn’t see in my tiny town. And that trip continued to replay and those lessons relearned throughout the years. I knew after that trip that I wanted to do this type of work on day, but I lost sight of that for awhile and left it for others to do. I went on a second CSM trip to Washington D.C. and was reminded of feelings and lessons from Chicago.
This last October my friend Jessica was telling me her heart for inner city kids and ministry and I told her about CSM. We decided to pray and then we applied. And after a period of waiting and relying on God I entered the most beautifully wrecked summer of my life (thus far).
This summer taught me more than I can express right now. God is continuing to mold and shape me. He has a work in me that is not yet complete, but I know He is faithful and will one day complete it. He broke my heart for what breaks His. He took me back to my foundation of faith and strengthened it; not always in easy or pleasant ways but always in love. He gave me glimpses at growth and was there as seeds were sown, watered, and harvested. He showed His sovereignty. He brought people into my life that made a deep impact on me, the way I think, and my heart. He showed up in big ways.
And it’s not that CSM makes God magically appear. It’s that while serving with CSM we are put in situations that require obedience to God’s Word. We are given schedules and days that are modeled after what the Bible says we are to do as Christians. We feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we visit the orphans and widows, we love. And when we are in obedience with what God says Big things happen and our worlds are rocked ultimately for the better.
So I am thankful for this summer of growth and tears and service.
I am thankful for CSM as an organization and what they stand for as a ministry.
I am thankful for my bosses, Jes and Kristin who pushed me and required that I step up.
I am thankful for my fellow hosts who became my good friends and blessed my life immensely.
And I am thankful for Jerry Bush, my youth pastor, who with patience was obedient in the call God had for Him so that I may be where I am today.
-Jody Glazner, CSM Nashville Summer 2009 City Host

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Greatest Social Need

"THE GREATEST SOCIAL NEED in the world today is not HIV/AIDS outreach. It's not hunger. It's not global warming. Not ending poverty or eliminating malaria or tuberculosis. Not even clean water. Not racial reconciliation. Not sexual trafficking. Not abortion. And it's not peace in the Middle East, and not even world peace... [it] is alienation from God...Of course, this alienation is much more than a social problem. It is fundamentally a spiritual problem that constitutes humanity's greatest crisis: billions of men and women who do not know the love and grace of their Creator."

I read this out of a Christianity Today magazine today. It was sitting on the couch and I have seen the cover many a times as it sits in our common room at the CSM housing site but never read it until just a few minutes said "the #1 social issue". It drew me in because I was curious as to what it said. I opened to the article and read it. I was happy to hear that they signified the importance of the gospel. I think so often, we as Christians seem to give a dollar here and there and call it a day, or even serve weekly at a homeless shelter, but don't tend to say the words of Christ by sharing the gospel. I think social justice is important, in fact Micah 6:8 talks about it, but I can't help but think...sharing the gospel is more important. Fight to get homeless of the street and into houses so that they can live through the night, but also give them the gospel and they can live for eternity. Now this isn't to say that they shouldn't still be fought for to help get them off the street, but just a reminder that their soul is more important when it comes to salvation.
I think that sharing the Gospel is something that we as Christians need to work on. We need to remember we can be his hands and feet only so much before we also need to speak words of our risen Lord and Savior! I am excited for the group to come tomorrow and I look forward to getting to know the people in my group as well as start to form relationships with the people that we work with at different ministry sites. I think that that will be a great opportunity to share the gospel with the people at the ministry sites.

-Jeni Ellis, CSM Houston Summer 2009 City Host

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guitar Lessons

Yesterday my group and I went to a ministry site called Salt and Sea Mission in Coney Island. Salt and Sea ministers to the homeless of Coney Island and was started by a woman who was once herself homeless and living underneath the beach's boardwalk.

One of the boys in our group brought his guitar with him because we had been asked to lead worship for a short church service the mission has each day. And he and the girl that sang did a good job of it. Everyone enjoyed the songs and sang along, as well as played tambourines that had been passed out before the service. It was wonderful to watch as hands were raised, and hallelujahs were called out, and tambourines were played (sometimes not on beat, but it didn't matter). It was a joyful sound to the Lord.

Then after the service we were asked to help with the food pantry and do some cleaning around the building. Danny, the guy who led worship though, was requested for something else. Apparently just a couple days before a little boy, whose name was also Danny, had been saying he wanted to learn to play the guitar and so he and the pastor had prayed that God would send someone to help him get started. Well, suddenly here was big Danny with his guitar willing to do just that and so they sat together and big Danny showed little Danny where to put his fingers and how to hold the guitar. And together they plucked out a few notes and some chords.

After we left big Danny approached me and asked if there was anyway he could possible purchase a beginner's guitar book and have the group going to Salt and Sea take with them to give to little Danny on Thursday. So today since I had the day off I ventured into Manhattan in search of a beginner's guitar book. When I got off the train at the Rockefeller Plaza stop I was greeted by a torrential downpour (funny how you can get on the train with the sun shining and then 45 minutes later make your way above ground to find the weather is not how you left it). I tried waiting at the bottom of the stairs to the sidewalk, hoping that maybe it would slow but no such luck. So I bounded up the stairs and was instantly soaked through, dodging big puddles, practically wiping out a couple times because Old Navy flip flops have zero traction to begin with but are perilous in the rain. But big and little Danny were counting on me and I was on a mission. I finally made it to the music store, cold and thoroughly wet, but determined to find a good guitar book for little Danny. I'm not sure how long I stood there trying to figure out what book would be the best, but I finally picked one out that even my-not-so-musically-inclined self could understand.

So, Lord, please bless little Danny the budding musician. Thank you for big Danny and his love for little Danny and that he will be able to take what he will learn and use it for Your glory. Amen.

-Jessica Lewis, CSM New York Summer 2009 City Host

Monday, August 17, 2009


Sometimes I find myself sitting among 30 six and seven year olds at a movie wondering how their teachers do it day in and day out.
Sometimes I find myself sitting in the shade with a homeless couple wondering how they continue to walk their 30 miles a day.
Sometimes I find myself listening to the same stories I heard the week before and wondering if their minds ever clear.
Sometimes I am stopped by someone waiting in line to eat and silenced by their gratitude for our group being there.
Sometimes I get to watch as young adults and their leaders are stretched and molded.
Sometimes I get to see God light a fire within a generation that will have the opportunity and power to love and create change.
Sometimes I get to see love transform situations.
Sometimes I get to see love fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts.
Sometimes I find myself in continual praise for what God is doing.
Sometimes I find myself asking, ‘Is He really big enough to love on all the brokenness and heal the hurting and save the lost and feed the hungry and remember the silent.’
And then I remember that He is good. That He is sovereign (a word that is taking on a whole new meaning to me this summer). I am reminded that He is creator and omniscient and in control.
Sometimes I just need to remember to rest in His glory and look for ways to glorify Him.
Sometimes I need Him, to remember to just let Him be my all.
Sometimes I need to “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
-Jody Glazner, CSM Nashville Summer 2009 City Host

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reflections from a Leader

Check out this CSM leader's awesome blog post...
Big thanks to Encounter from Mountain View Church for sharing your city experiences with us!

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can Rescue Missions Go Green?

I just received ESA's weekly newsletter (great resource, btw!) where they share an article entitled "Can Rescue Missions Go Green?" They discuss what challenges missions may face, but also the enormous benefits that effort would produce. Some great food for thought!

"Obviously, since rescue missions are already about honoring God and caring for people, I think the first step is to reflect on the many Scriptures that show how these are connected...People are a part of Gods creation - by caring for the least of these, Christians are already involved in the most important part of creation care, which is people care."
Read the full article on ESA's website!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today I realized I only have one Monday left with a new group. Today felt like the beginning of the end. It feels like this long drawn out goodbye. It's like you know that the one you love is going to leave for awhile and while you try to appreciate and hang on to every moment left part of your heart can't ignore the looming parting of ways.
I think this week is an extra dose of "uneasy feeling in pit of stomach" for me because I'm at an anchor site. I have not had an anchor site all summer but the next two weeks I am at a Boys and Girls club while Julie goes to another site. And to be honest part of me struggled with it today. I loved the kids and they have such a hunger for love and attention. Our groups really are doing a great thing there. It just was not the homeless people that I have gotten to spend time with all summer. It was not the regular schedule. I suddenly become anxious about not having a chance to say goodbye to most of the people I met and for the first time really having an opinion about what was on my schedule.
And then I was reminded that it's not about me, my comfort or how I think I fit into a place. It's not about the people I have met and grown to love. It's not about any of that. It's about God being a Big God and being capable of using me. And it's about His plan not always being our plan. It's about the fruit that follows our obedience. And especially for me, it's about not getting comfortable.
Philippians 4:4-7
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
-Jody Glazner, CSM Nashville Summer 2009 City Host

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wreck Your Life. Serve in the City!

The trips are life-changing experiences. How do I know? My own life has been “wrecked” by what I saw and encountered on my own CSM trips during high school. I discovered poverty in my own country as I taught VBS in a shelter. I put a face on homelessness when I was forced to find out someone’s story and their needs, and not just settle for giving them a handout and walking away. I heard testimonies from drug-addicts. I ate food from countries that I never even knew existed. But most of all, my own pride was pierced when I saw that I had much more to learn from the people of the city than I ever thought I had to teach them. As I met people with nothing materially yet rich in Christ, I saw my own spiritual poverty for what it was. And that made me crave the faith I saw in them, and to want to live my life for Christ not only one week of the year in another city, but also back home in my own community. This is the lesson I hope every person who comes through our organization learns, so that the impact is greater than just DC but our whole world.

-Kristen Erbelding, CSM Washington DC Associate City Director

Get your life "wrecked" on a CSM trip!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Human Mosaic Photo Essay

Check out this great photo essay entitled "Human Mosaic"! It portrays the lives of new immigrants, the obstacles they have to jump through in a new country and how they shape their new lives.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Second Time Around

Aaron has returned for his second summer as a City Host with CSM Chicago – check out how God’s moving in his life and the life of the city…

It has been interesting being here in Chicago again, doing the same thing, but with different people at a different time. I have faced different challenges, made different memories, and learned different things. I am glad I chose to return to Chicago and that God made this opportunity for me. I have been able to build some relationships with people here in the city and see a little more of what it is like to struggle in our society, yet be completely at peace with the society of God. I have encountered people who have pride in what they do and who they are even when the American society says they are nothing. It is inspiring and has forced me to define myself more as a follower and disciple of Christ. I am constantly learning from the people around me which I see as something special because I am suppose to be teaching them about God. It is crazy how everyone benefits when God is at the center of our work. Kirk Bell, a pastor on the south side of Chicago, said the other day, "When you get involved with the Word, miraculous things happen." That is what I have been able to see here in Chicago so far. As I spend more time reading the Bible and praying in so many ways, I have see God work and my blindness as been removed to see what He is doing in Chicago and around the world.

Thank you all for your prayers and support as I am here in Chicago.

-Aaron LaMonica, CSM Chicago Summer 2009 City Host

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Henri Nouwen, Paul, and Jesus all exemplified that to be spiritually disciplined these three things were needed, in this order.
I personally really struggle with solitude. I’m bad at it. And I have to get better at it. Because to be able to offer community and do ministry I first need to be filled by God alone and spend time in silence with Him.
We read (as a staff) Henri Nouwen's article "Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry" that discusses the importance of these three concepts and how they interplay into each other. The article refers to Luke 6:12-19 and how Jesus took time in solitude before gathering His disciples in community and then going out and beginning in His ministry. The very next week I was reading in Galations about how Paul took time to be alone before gathering Titus and Barnabas to continue on in ministry.
I have been challenged to spend time in solitude. And right now it's way hard! But I know it will be worth it and to create the spiritual discipline of waiting in solitude will eventually bring something.
I am blessed to have an awesome and trustworthy community here at CSM that have partnered with me this summer as well as helping me prepare for ministry beyond CSM this summer and next school year. I will miss them when I go home later this week. I will miss the constant knowing that our community was right there willing to challenge and help. I am blessed to have Jessica as a roommate this next year and the fact that she knows what's going on in my heart and saw all the same things I did just in NYC.
There is a lot going on my heart and mind right now as I transition out of CSM and back into school and whatever else God may have for me. I need to start with solitude. I have to learn to make time for it and see it as a vital part of my life and ministry.
-Jody Glazner, CSM Nashville Summer 2009 City Host

Monday, August 03, 2009

San Francisco wins homeless soccer tournament

Congratulations to the soccer team from San Francisco that competed in the homeless soccer tournament - they placed first in the national competition! The top eight players from this tournament will go on to represent the US at the Homeless World Cup Competition in Milan this September.

Check out the full AP article!

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