Friday, October 30, 2009

Modern day slavery happens in your own backyard

Even though the forum already happened, here's a great video clip from the Not For Sale Campaign:

Modern day slavery happens in the cities we serve in, the suburbs surrounding them and in rural areas across the United States of America. Learn more on Not For Sale's website!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in the city!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nashville Participants Respond to Urban Ministry

“I could make so many excuses to protect my comfort and not serve and love, and that the homeless are people just like us who need to be loved.”

“Maurice and Larry [at Samaritan Ministries] thanks for giving me the experience to talk to you because you guys really opened the door for me to actually find God…and I thank you for that.”
“John and Charlie…I want to thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for letting us just sit down and talk to you.”

“Starting a ministry similar to Isaiah 58– the mobile feeding ministry”

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Nashville!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HIV/AIDS in Washington DC

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit our nation's capitol hard. With 1 in 20 residents being infected, funding and resources for patients is extremely limited. Check out a recent video piece by the Washington Post that helps shed light on the current situation!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Washington DC!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Food Bank Usage Soars in Canada

A recent article from the Canadian Press, shows that inadequate employment insurance (EI) benefits is causing a significant increase in people utilizing soup kitchens and food pantries.
"A recent Salvation Army report said the demand for its food banks across Canada has increased during the recession, while donations had dropped."
A good reminder that we need to continue donating to such important organizations!

Have you donated recently? Where to?

Learn how you can serve at similar organizations with CSM in Toronto!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Storing Wisdom

Yesterday, I was hanging out in Bicentennial Park in downtown Nashville just listening to music and reading Proverbs. Pretty chill. I was reading Proverbs intentionally because I have read Ecclesiastes through several times this summer and have made Solomon my new life-hero; I wanted to read more about wisdom and the Proverbs are definitely chock full of those! I was encouraged by several verses, particularly those in Proverbs 3 and I wrote them down for good measure.

After my leisurely devotion time, I began to head back to my group. I was walking through the park, my big ole headphones serenading me with my favorite tunes, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man sitting on a bench. We exchanged pleasantries and he introduced himself to me as John. We talked for a minute or two about the weather and such when he paused the conversation and said, "Heather, let me tell you something...".

He proceeded to tell me about how he grew up, how his mom was an alcoholic and he didn't really have a father figure around, but when he was young, an elderly neighbor took him under his wing and taught him to respect others and seek wisdom and understanding. He attributed his zeal and passion for life to this mentor and friend he respected so much! He told me how this gentleman taught him to work hard and respect those in authority, to be slow to anger and rich in love for others. John carried the wisdom that his mentor had instilled within him throughout his life. He told me that holding on to that wisdom had kept him safe, kept him out of bad situations and also allowed him to complete any task he put his hand to. He then quoted some verses from Proverbs - several of which I had just read minutes earlier!

I was really taken back by this. "Wow, you really remind me of Solomon", I said, "You are very wise". He presented me with a knowing, gentle smile and reached in to his pocket and took out his wallet. He explained how he had taken up a new hobby of making jewelry and selling it on the street. He then reached into his wallet and pulled out a small charm, took my hand, and placed a small, silver cross in my palm. "Here", he said. "This charm is for you. I don't have a chain for you to put it on, but I trust that you will find one. I want you to have this charm as a reminder to take wisdom and understanding with you wherever you go." I thanked him for the encouragement and told him I hoped to see him again soon. He simply smiled and said his goodbyes and we went our separate ways.

When I returned to the group, I told them my story and read them the verse that inspired it all:

"My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commandments in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life. Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3: 1-5

When I walked the group back through the park, John was already gone. But I have his charm and his story with me (I'm still on the hunt for a chain though!) as a reminder to keep wisdom and understanding close to my heart.
-Heather Strange, CSM Nashville Summer 2009 City Host

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Welcome to the neigborhood!

The LA Times just published a good article that can help us at CSM LA look at the neighborhood we are living in - from a historical perspective and with an eye to see how some small changes may make a big difference. Most descriptive sentence of this piece: "Researchers concluded recently that the neighborhood is a food "desert" where it is nearly impossible for many families to buy fresh fruit and vegetables."

We're so excited that just one grocery store brought in 120 salaried jobs and that is just the start!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Los Angeles!

Monday, October 05, 2009

NYC Trip Reflection: Sunset Park Ministry

During our mission trip to New York City we worked in a wide variety of different ministries. We spent one morning in the basement of a church in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn that ministers to the homeless. We did not meet any homeless people there, but we did meet Pastor Larry (a different Pastor Larry) and his wife Pastor Margie. They are an amazing and dedicated couple of great faith who do a tremendous amount of good with very limited resources. They offer very practical assistance to the homeless. Ten months of the year (not in July and August) they offer bathrooms, showers and clean clothes to anyone needing them. They also serve hot meals and bag lunches to anyone who asks. They accept donations of used clothing and used almost anything else to support their ministry.

We spent the morning helping Margie sort two entire rooms of donations to prepare for the September opening. We organized boxes of men’s pants, sweatshirts, blankets, plastic tablecloths to put on the sidewalk, bags of all kinds and a couple of folding carts suitable for carrying one’s possessions. We are talking basic survival here. A church volunteer spent that entire morning filling hundreds of small bottles with soap and shampoo for the showers. There will be many customers. There is a washer and dryer in the basement as well as the bathrooms and showers. Clients can leave their dirty clothes and replace them with clean ones.

If the discards are salvageable they are washed and offered to someone else the next week. Donated household goods not usable by those without houses are sold on an ongoing “garage sale” table just outside the church door. The proceeds help support the ministry. We worked hard all morning and felt we accomplished something. But it was only one day.

Larry and Margie are there every day, living the Gospel. At the end of our work time we prayed together. They had never had any Episcopalians volunteer before. I hope we won’t be the last.

-CSM New York Trip Participant

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