Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passing of an Educational Great

A vanguard of inner-city education reform passed away yesterday. If you don't know the story of Jaime Escalante's pursuit of higher education to a community thought to be lost, watch the amazing film "Stand and Deliver".
Check out the article...
-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles City Director

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Denver School Making a Difference!

Cole Arts and Science Academy is located in one of Denver's low-income neighborhoods, Cole is a public school serving preschoolers up to grade eight. Cole re-opened in 2009 as an innovative school that has direct ownership over its time, money and staff setting it apart from other public schools. This allows them to offer unique programs, like their infusion classes where students have a choice of studying everything from insects or puppetry to money or ballet. Another aspect that makes this school special is they are a designated American Indian Focus School offering an optional program where students of American Indian heritage learn together. Check out this article about how individuals are making a difference in their own community!

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Realities in Chicago

The year 2000 marked the beginning of Chicago's Mayor Daley's "Renaissance 2010" plan. This initiative was designed to eliminate homeless and improve education amongst other things. As we round 2010, we have seen dangerous results of the mayor's plan. There seems to be a staggering correlation between the closing of Chicago Public High Schools and the steep increase of violence. Read this publication for the shocking details.

-Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago Co-City Director

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Are you doing something?"

This is what Miles McPherson, pastor of the Rock Church and Academy in San Diego, challenged his congregation with each weak in 2009. Their goal for the year was to reach 600,000 hours of service as an entire congregation. Check out this interview Miles gives in this month's issue of Outcomes magazine to learn how they did it and how it impacted them as a community!

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cabrini Green Gets Torn Down

Over the years, CSM has partnered with several ministries that serve the people of Cabrini Green, Chicago's most well-known housing project. Since the city decided to sell off the land to developers, thousands of residents have been displaced with no good options for new housing. Here is a stop-motion video of the destruction of some of the Cabrini Green buildings.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homeless Youth in Denver

Denver has approximately 1,500 homeless youth sleeping on the streets each night in search of shelter, food, friendship and safety. They leave home for many reasons, from abuse and neglect to addictions, but their realities are the same once they hit the streets. Life comes fast and they have to grow up quickly to learn how to survive. Many of these teens have a desire to share their stories and talk through issues, but the outlet for this is rare. Art from Ashes addresses this need powerfully through poetry. This article shares an interview with one teen living at Denver's Urban Peak Shelter, a home specifically for homeless youth.

Here is a link to more stories of youth who have lived at Urban Peak.

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Monday, March 08, 2010

Beyond the Summer

CSM is a ministry where it is rare to see the fruit of your labor. Groups that do mission trips are only with us for a week, sometimes only a weekend. We begin to see God open their eyes to the suffering and struggles of the poor, and we begin to see the Spirit opening their hearts to care for these issues which are so close to the heart of God. But once the groups leave, we rarely hear what happens when they get back home. We may have an impact on them, but we really have no idea.
Perhaps the greatest way we see the work of God in our ministry is through our seasonal staff, because we are able to continue our relationships with them beyond their time with CSM. This past summer, Wesley Chan, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, served with CSM-Chicago as one of fourteen City Hosts. Wesley spent nearly every week of the Summer taking groups to serve at By the Hand, a holistic ministry for at-risk children. Wesley got to build relationships with the staff and children at By the Hand. As he invested in the ministry, he grew to truly care for it.
While it was sad for Wesley to say goodbye to his friends at By the Hand at the end of the summer, his relationship with this ministry did not end. Wesley had a few weeks at home before heading back to school, and he made the most of it. He organized a drive to collect school supplies for the kids of By the Hand. He wrote letters to the groups who had served with him at By the Hand over the summer, asking them to join his efforts.
He even got some financial gifts for them. What a blessing Wesley was – not just in his time serving at By the Hand, but beyond! It was a joy to work alongside Wesley this summer, watching him learn, grow and serve. And our joy continues as we see God continue to use him in ways like this and in many other ways on his college campus.

-Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago Co-City Director

Friday, March 05, 2010

Where I am.


This morning I prayed and thanked Jesus for being here. I know He wants me here. I'm still sorting out what He's doing, and what I'm doing.

Our devotion time, we asked the questions: What is a city? What is Gods vision for this city? for us? How do the biblical writers describe Gods love for Jerusalem? What does the Bible say about sin in Jerusalem? What does the Bible say about Jesus' view of Jerusalem? What do these scriptures say about individuals called to live in the city?

Psalm 122, Isaiah 62:1-7,12, Psalm 55:9-11...and so on.

Jeremiah 29:1-14, Ezekiel 22:23-31, and Jonah talk about our responsibility as believers placed in a city. God does not call for us to be here and just waste our lives NOT moving for the gospel. He calls for us to be effective, infiltrate the city and represent Him. Show off His love. Care about people. Love people.

I'm still marinating on these scriptures. I'm still marinating on how Jesus calls us to do something. He calls us not to just sit by in the comfort of our own circles and presuppositions. He's calling us to reach out to people and show them His love. Be His hands and feet.

Over the past months i have realized something i do not want to become. One of the books we had to read for the trip called "Theirs is the Kingdom" which is one of the best books I've read on urban missions, had a beautiful quote, out of a gazillion others, that summed it up.

Matthew 16:25 "If you would save your life, you will lose it; But if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it"

"Mrs. Bailey hoarded every possession but life itself, and now that is gone. But her death actually occurred years before her heart stopped beating. Her death signaled when she first began to clutch at life. The church is engaged is a similar struggle. We are in a death drift that moves us from serving to preserving. We feel it carrying us along. Our spontaneous fellowship soon becomes a program. Bearing one another's burdens becomes a budget line item. Self-sacrificing friends become paid professionals with titles (counselor, minister, director) and salary packages, longevity gauranteesm and retirement benefits. Our meeting places turn into 'holy places' with stained glass, polished oak and locks. Taking 'no thought for tomorrow' becomes sentimental rhetoric as we build bigger barns and amass insurance and endowments and reserve funds against the unpredictable events of our future. But the church has no future. We have only the present. In this present moment we must spend, lavish, and give away our tomorrows for the sake of the kingdom today. In short, we must die. Today. That is the only way to save our lives. The church is called to live at Golgotha. If perchance tomorrow morning we discover that our depleted spirits have a new supply of energy, that the emptied offering plate is full once again, and from sacrificial dreams whole new dimensions of life have burst forth, then we will begin to understand something of what the resurrection is about. On the other side of death, each death, stands our risen Lord. And he beckons us." -Robert Lupton

Not sure what that has to do with anything but sure it has to do with everything..

Pray for me as I pray. Pray with me as i figure out what I'm doing here. That i learn the lesson, allowing God to stretch me.

-Monielle, CSM Washington DC Spring 2010 City Host

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Truly Blessed

Today I met a man named Dan. As he filled up his coffee cup, I simply asked, "How's it going?" His response blew me away.
"Man, I am blessed! So BLESSED! I'm still blessed from yesterday! Let me tell you what happened, it was amazing!" (Dan is a homeless man who was staying warm and enjoying coffee at The Beacon, a Houston CSM site)
Dan recounted his story, which helped me see with fresh eyes how Jesus flips the whole concept of "blessings" upside down. "I was out on the street yesterday afternoon and some lady brings me a big meal. I said 'I'm not hungry, but I'll take this and give it to someone who is.' So the lady gets real excited and gives me two more. So I start walking around and I start finding hungry guys along the street. I ended up feeding 9 guys with those 3 meals. I got to feed 9 people! God is so good!"
I was stunned. Not only did Dan not have the appearance of one who is "blessed," but he found God's blessing not in the little he had, but in what he was able to give away. Wow!
The apostle Paul reminds us of Jesus' words - "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) That sometimes seems easy to grasp when I have more than I need. But Dan had almost nothing. He received some food, and God multiplied that blessing as he gave it away. Oh, to have that heart of Jesus! Lord, bless us today by showing us how to joyfully GIVE in your name!

-Eric, CSM Houston Spring 2010 City Host