Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New friends from Denver

It blows my mind the amazing people that I meet everyday in Denver.  As we say to our groups that come to Denver, everyone has a story, and it is so true!  If you just slow down, and sit and listen you will come to realize this.  Also, the amazing impact you can have on someone just by taking the time to hear their story.

I first met my friend Michael on the street corner of 16th and California where he was selling the Denver Voice, a magazine sold by the homeless, for the homeless.  He shared that he is from Jamaica, and was brought here through a magazine company that turned out to be a scam.  He had been selling the papers to try and raise enough money to go back home.  It amazed me that he continued to talk to us, even though at first he may have been worried about missed opportunities to sell the paper.  We asked him about problems in Denver, and he said teen runaways.  As he talked, it amazed me, as if the problems in the city he shared about made sense to him and he understood the cycle people living on the street may be facing.  He'd met some guys outside the Rescue Mission who explained to him that they just wanted to do drugs for the rest of their lives, but Michael on the other hand was very motivated to sell the papers and do something with his life.

Not only that, but Michael was someone who spent a lot of time with the teens on the streets, truly trying to get to know them and hear their stories.  It was interesting to see the people who walked by us while we were talking to Michael, and to see the looks on their faces. Some people looked at us like we were crazy, or they were worried for us talking to someone on a street corner, and it made me upset.  Others were busy on their cell phones and in a hurry, never even taking the time to look over.  I wonder sometimes are people so oblivious or self absorbed in themselves that they don't bother to think of helping those around them.  Or at least smiling and acknowledging their presence.  I was inspired by Michael and his honesty.  You could tell he cares about other people a lot, before himself.

I ran into Michael a couple weeks later, in high spirits as always.  He told me that he had been praying the night before, and had decided to stay in Denver; a place  he said he hated just the week before.  He felt God had called him to spend more time in Denver, and that his work here isn't done.  He told me that it wasn't going to be easy, but that God never told us our lives would be struggle free.  He had a smile on his face, and I could just see the spirit of God totally moving in him.  He said that a lot of the teens on the street consider him like their father and they look up to Michael because of his caring and nonjudgmental spirit.

I am in awe of Michael and the way that he completely gives up his own desires to go home to a comfortable life back with his family in Jamaica, to listen and follow God's commands.  It reminded me of the Gospel stories when God calls his disciples to leave all that they have and follow Him.  I am inspired by Michael and through these encounters with him have been convicted in my own walk of faith and am searching my own heart: Am I truly willing to give up all of my worldly possessions to follow wherever God calls me, whenever it may be?  I believe this is something we as followers of Christ should all ask ourselves.

-Julie, CSM Denver Summer 2010 City Host

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Center for Student Missions Summer

"My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. You ill-treat the poor. But isn't it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? Aren't they the ones who make fun of your Lord?" James 2:5-7

So, this summer, I'll be learning a lot about this verse. I'm working for Center for Student Missions (or CSM) in Houston, which is a urban mission program in which we take adult and student groups around the city to different awesome programs that help in a variety of ways. I've only been here about a week in training, but I already feel like the city is serving me more than I am serving it.

In America, we all grow up thinking that achieving the American dream is ideal. We want to be successful, have a nice house, and raise a family. This is where my internal conflict starts. Is that really what God wants for my life? Is that really what His word commands? I have been so driven by success my whole life that anything that seems to contrast that completely boggles my mind. If I can have better faith living in the depressed 3rd ward of Houston than I can living in a house in River Oaks, should I not live a so-called "poor" lifestyle?

This is a question I will continue to work through the entire summer and it scares me A LOT. If God is really calling me to live a more modest lifestyle, I need to do that. But at the same time, there goes my dreams of nice cars, big screen TVs, and expensive furniture. I know if that really is what God is calling me to do, the turmoil I feel about not living with nice things will be far less than the joy I receive from answering God's call.

In the first 72 hours I was here, I already saw exactly what James meant in verse 5. As I sat eating my breakfast with hundreds of the Houston homeless after the Lord of the Streets church service on Sunday, I talked with Rosalynn and saw one of the strongest faiths I'd seen in a long time. There she sat, homeless on a scorching hot summer day in Houston, eating one of the first meals she'd probably had in a couple of days. As she ate, not only did she give some of her food away as soon as somebody else said they liked a certain item, but she told me of just how much joy the Lord was giving her. I don't think she stopped smiling the whole meal. She told me how she was so blessed with joy and so glad she was joyful, and not just happy. Can you say WOW? She, compared to American standards, had close to nothing, but was more joyful than probably the majority of the people living in Beverly Hills. Rosalynn served me so well by teaching me what true joy is. I hope I see her again.

Joy is not the absence of crisis, but the presence of Christ.

Lord, thank you for Rosalynn and the way she touched my life. She was such an inspiration to me. Thank you for giving us joy even when we don't deserve it.

-Crystal, CSM Houston Summer 2010 City Host

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A New Look at Subsidized Housing in Houston

From Culture Map Houston | June 9, 2010
Those whizzing by the intersection of Griggs Road on the Gulf Freeway can't help but notice blocks of crisp cobalt blue and punchy tangerine buttressing monumental metal murals, topped off with a sleek, aluminum-framed pitched roof.
Is this a new boutique hotel? The latest work of a Miami-import architect? Perhaps a new artist collective's outpost east of EaDo?
No — this is subsidized housing.
Keep reading...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

On the Topic of Contrasts...

Growing up, I would watch the Amazing Race with my family regularly. It wasn't uncommon for me to talk about how much I would love to participate in that show. This afternoon, I got a taste of what it would be like. The staff was sent on an "Amazing Race" of the city. We divided into 2 teams of 4 and were given 10 locations to try and go to during a period of 6 hours. That's a lot of numbers...but you get the picture :)

During one of our stops at the Ebenezer Cafe, we ate lunch at Union State. The picture on the right is the view from our table. Halfway through our meal, I took this picture because all of a sudden I saw the contrast. If you look below where the floors are divided, you see a pretty generic tourist cafeteria. It has generic tables, colorful columns, and fast food. But...if you look above the dividers, you see the beautiful architecture that Union Station is known you. There are umbrellas in front of restaurants, (clearly for aesthetic purposes...since I doubt it rains inside). There are trees instead of murals on columns, and there is an elaborate, and beautiful ceiling. I've been to Union Station multiple times. These differences between the first floor and the second floor have always been there, the station hasn't changed. I just didn't see the contrasting levels of a luxurious eating area and a common cafeteria coexisting until I looked for them.

This changed my approach to the rest of the afternoon. As we guided ourselves around (literally) the whole city...I started to see the contrasts that I have been passing everyday, because today I decided to look for them.

The second picture is the backyard of the Anacostia Art Gallery in Southeast DC. This afternoon, my group walked into the Art Gallery and had a great conversation with one of the owners of the Gallery. She was wonderful, and has a heart for poetry and travel. On the right of the picture is a stage with an African theme for decorations, and the garden is actually an ancestral garden. Southeast, and especially Anacostia can sometimes have to battle a reputation of being a rougher area of the city. This reputation isn't entirely fact some of Capitol Hill is technically considered Southeast. Regardless, this oasis in the middle of Anacostia was beautiful, and so unique to it's neighborhood.

The third picture is the front of a house near the National Cathedral in Northwest DC. The location alone, in comparison to Southeast DC should give you an idea for its reputation. It is about as far away from Southeast as you get. This neighborhood has affluent houses, and is held in much higher regards than Southeast. In fact, from this neighborhood, and the National Cathedral, we were able to walk to the Naval Observatory, which houses the Vice President. Down the street is Mass Ave, which is also named Embassy Row, because it is the major location for a majority of the embassies in DC.

As the pictures show, and hopefully my explanations articulate, DC most certainly has contrasts. Today, as we navigated ourselves around the city, I saw sites that I now see regularly. However, today I saw rich and poor segregated by their neighborhoods. I saw white and black on different bus routes I rode. I saw Catholic and Protestant as I went to the Cathedral, the Basilica and Ebenezer’s cafe (which houses a church in the basement). I even saw Political and an NGO as I volunteered at Food and Friends (providing ill people with healthy foods) then walked by the Capitol building.

What I saw when I actually opened my eyes today was absolutely amazing to me. To say the least, I definitely had a wake-up call as I go about the city these next couple of months. Today, I saw how my preconceived notions interfere with my perceptions of the city and its neighborhoods. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a way to overcome those obstacles in the future so that I can truly experience the city :)
--Stephanie, CSM Washington DC Summer 2010 City Host

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Low-cost Gyms in Low-income Neighborhoods = Great idea!

Check out this great article from
In many low-income neighborhoods, obesity and diabetes are huge problems. Fear of crime and traffic keep many residents from exercising outdoors, and indoor gyms are often too few and too expensive.

Healthworks, a nonprofit fitness center in Boston, is trying to change that.

About ten women are working up a sweat at a hip hop class in Boston's Codman Square neighborhood. It's led by an instructor nicknamed K.J. with long dredlocks and great moves.

But none of these women have lean, sculpted bodies. Most of them are where Tamica Toney, 36, was less than a year ago.

Keep reading...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jonah Lessons from the Streets of Toronto

They’re gone. I would say it feels weird how quiet it is in the church without everyone here, except that they’re doing some construction stuff and hammers really aren’t all that quiet.
It’s weird to think that they’ll probably never be back here again; I just spent this whole week with 24 people that I may never see again in my life. I guess what I really hope is that I’ve made some kind of difference. Maybe most of the difference you make, you never know but I think what was cool was the things I do know I guess I didn’t really expect.
When Eden shared at final challenge last night, of course I was listening. Then I saw this verse up on my wall and it was exactly what she was talking about, so I pulled it off, wrote a little note on the back and gave it to her.
I think going into this summer my passion was for the homeless, for the people the groups are coming to serve but really I’m finding this passion for the people that come on these trips. I love being in a position that allows me to spread passion like wildfire. I love the idea that these people now will pass it on to others. It makes it so purely God’s ministry.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, serving the poor is God’s ministry, but He did it by teaching others, empowering them to continue in ministry especially after He left. I loved leading my first street walk, but even more I loved afterwards just talking to Emily in the kitchen about how she was really feeling and being able to just pour into her how valuable she is. And I think that this only really happens after we get outside ourselves. I mean I spent the first few days really struggling with not tapping into God and His plan and being self-conscious because I was ridiculous enough to think that any of this was really about me and if I was doing a good enough job. The truth is I have full authority and power in Jesus Christ. I’m not Jonah stewing in the belly of a whale, but I’m Sarah, fighting with all my heart to burst out of this big fish I’m stuck in, get messy and trust that God will clean me up so that I smell pleasantly to the people God has called me to serve. It’s just a lot of thoughts, I know, but really what I do isn’t so much a blog, but poetry, so here’s all of this translated:

it’s a big city.

blind are we
the cup bearer to the passer by,
and like an ocean’s wave,
with nothing to say but good bye
as it drifts away
as if we ever see it coming
a big one
to pull you under
life stolen, breath pushed out
and all at once we are a little fish swallowed whole
dragged in,
kicking and screaming
or maybe not.
maybe we shrug a little
and with a give of acceptance,
down we go.
it’s a dark place really
how would light ever get there?
what good would light do there?
so there we sit.
I sit.
fermenting in my thoughts
resisting righteousness at every turn
an empty belly to this great beast
living in a lie – lying in a life.
regardless, dying a little more each day
until you realize some seed of truth
the watermelon that went down with you
the one that’s been stuck in your throat all along.
then comes the decision:
be digested.
or fight to be free.
a life lived is one of more than just regurgitation
we fight our sea monsters,
wrestle a little,
get eaten eventually,
and very messily get shown the way out.
vomited up, then you are washed clean
if you always stay in the boat then you’ll never delve deep.
we might be Jonah – little fish in big oceans
but not once were we left to die.

I love how the last line in the book of Jonah is, “should I not be concerned about this great city?” It’s almost as if God leaves us to the realization that we all come to on our own time – yes God, Your plans are bigger, ways much higher and who am I to begin to get it. It may seem like this is all way over my head and I’m just a little fish but really this all isn’t mine, it’s God’s and it’s beautiful.

-Sarah, CSM Toronto Summer 2010 City Host

Monday, June 14, 2010

Youth Violence Heats Up

Cities around the nation are beginning to heat up as summer approaches. But with the climbing temperatures, comes increased youth violence. Some urban centers are being proactive - providing anti-violence education, jobs for teens and more!

Boston - Boston teens gather to address youth violence

Chattanooga - Hundreds gather for anti-violence march

Chicago - Youth Violence: Students Earn an "A" in Peace

Seattle - Youth Violence Prevention: Getting WA Teens to Sign On

Pray for cities across the US and Canada that will be facing an increase in youth violence this summer. Pray for the ministries that seek to stop the violence and share Christ with these teens!

Video from The Joshua Station - Denver, CO

Check out this great video about The Joshua Station - one of CSM Denver's partner ministries!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Friends, Great Lessons!

It’s not everyday you meet a woman like Cynthia…
I met her outside of Union Station one afternoon as my group experienced the homeless culture of Eastern Market (one of D.C.'s many neighborhoods). I was just on my way inside the station when a woman sitting on the ledge went out of her way to meet my gaze. I must admit - I tend to daydream when I am walking by myself in the city, but some-how she got my attention. She kindly asked for a dollar or two to get some food, and I in turn offered to take her out to lunch. Although she was quite apprehensive at first; we eventually started walking toward the Station's food court. I asked her what she wanted to eat, and after walking by every restaurant in the food court twice, she decided on the Teriyaki chicken at a small Asian restaurant.
I ordered, and paid as she found an open table for us to sit down at (open tables are really hard to find on weekday afternoons at Union Station, it seems like every school in the country takes a field trip on the same day and decides to eat lunch at the same time). As soon as we sat down I started asking her questions, learning almost immediately that her name was Cynthia, that she had two daughters, and that she was born and raised in the D.C. area.
I didn't realize this was only the beginning of an amazing story…
Cynthia went on to tell me she had been married for almost 30 years, but her husband had recently died. Not long after this she went into a deep depression which in turn lost her job, and her daughters. This is where the Lord found her. Cynthia said she was about to lose her apartment so she decided it was time to go to church. Cynthia said she went a couple weeks before she became an 'official believer', but that same Sunday she was evicted. She praised God that she was evicted, and had a car to live in.
Not even three weeks later while sitting in her car a drunk driver hit her and she lost all the feeling in the lower left side of her body. She praised God for His mercy during the accident and sparing her life. The accident changed her. Her daughters and her got back in touch.
She now lives barely two blocks from the Capital, at one of the largest homeless shelters in the country. Because of her disability—which she has nicknamed her "huge blessing from the Lord"—she has permanent housing at the shelter, medicine paid for, and access to some of the best doctors in the city. She is also able to visit her grand-children at least twice every week when she has a little free time between her busy schedule of doctors’ appointments and picking up medicine at the closest CVS.
I CANNOT put into words all that was shared that day at lunch time. I CANNOT explain how much she has changed, and continues to change my life when we "are both in the neighborhood, but not by chance" (Cynthia says this every time I see her at the station).
I was encouraged greatly because of her hope, and eyes to see eternal things. Her situation that may have seemed hopeless, gives her a lot of hope. Before we got up from the table she told me to pray for those in the shelter, and all of the people on the streets of D.C. every night. I promised I would, and then Cynthia said in a stern voice 'DO NOT pray for them to find a physical home to rest their heads, but a home in Christ to rest their heart, God will take care of everything else.’
"God will take care of everything else" despite our circumstances, "God will take care of everything else" despite what we did yesterday or last week, and "God will take of everything else" because He loves us.
Cynthia spoke a lot of truth over lunch, as she explained who God is to her, and how 'taking care of everything else' to her looks different to us than it actually does to God. She went on to say that it is better than any-thing we could ever imagine.
I'll never forget Cynthia and her story. She is so grateful for everything God has done for her. I still see her at Union Station, when we "are both in the neighborhood, but not by chance". We share a meal, and some great fellowship. God

-Tasha, CSM Washington DC Spring 2010 City Host

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Washington DC!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Day, New Things

Today was a day of new experiences... for starters we welcomed a new group yesterday so today was our first day of being together at ministry sites and working. This also brought about a new experience because this was my first time to visit the particular site we worked with. We went to the Salvation Army Service Center in the morning, and this was in and of itself an interesting experience. We started our time there in two separate groups: I was with the group that was sorting clothing, and the other half of the group sorted through boxes of toys. The ironic thing about the way the volunteer coordinator split up the group was that he put two guys and a girl in the group sorting toys, and me, the other girl, one guy and the male leader in charge of sorting the clothing. Did I mention we were sorting women's clothing? Yeah... that made it particularly interesting. We basically took huge bins of women's clothing and sorted it into sizes. Now many of these were items that the tags had been ripped out of, so they were without the official sizes in them. For us girls, this wasn't a huge problem, we just eyeballed it, and determined size and put them in their respective locations... for the guys however this was nothing short of hilarious. We finally determined that the best way to help them figure out sizes was to put it into a perspective they could understand. If it would fit him, it was a large... if it would fit his brother, it was a small... anything in between was a medium. This escapade got even more humorous considering that 85% of the clothes he pulled out of the bin he was working on was a tube top, or some form of strapless dress... oh yeah... it was great! and hilarious!

Once we completed our time in this area, we took a break, then resumed working with new positions. We took bottles of lotion, like the trial size ones found in hotel rooms, and combined them to make sure the bottles are full. We would then clean off the outside to make sure they looked brand new, then we put them in a bin that would later be sorted and combined for hygiene kits for distribution at a later time. It was tedious and at moments frustrating (like when a broken bottle disintegrated and exploded all over me), but in the end it was great to know that we were doing work that would eventually help people in the end. Big picture projects and ministry sites are cool because it's nice to know that despite the fact that we don't (and probably never will) see the people this is impacting, we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves... and isn't that kind of the point?

-Mandie, CSM San Francisco Bay Area Spring 2010 City Host

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

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Settling in for the Summer

Well, I’ve been in Nashville for a little over 2 weeks and here’s what’s happening…


In case you’re asking “Amber, what are you doing in Nashville?” here’s a little summary. I am working for the Center for Student Missions. Basically my job is to introduce youth groups to urban ministry. We partner with a number of non-profit organizations and different ministries year round. While the groups are in Nashville, we serve at several sites during the week, take them on a prayer tour of the city, and eat at ethnic restaurants each night (Turkish, Vietnamese, Thai, Soul food, etc.). So that’s the gist of it.

The Team

My team is AMAZING!! We are all pretty different from each other but we make a nice blend. Nolan is from Kansas, has a suh-weet mustache, and likes to disagree with everything the rest of us like. Gavin and Megan are from California, but totally different people. Megan is definitely a hippie at heart who has vowed not to wash her hair all summer long. Gavin swims for Berkeley, loves Aretha Franklin, and is practically bff’s with Mariah Carey. Mallory is a veteran missionary who has served in the Philippines, Africa, and CSM Chicago. Lara (my roommate) is from Kentucky, loves her UK Basketball and has an amazing voice. And I’m the type A personality who loves numbers and keeps us from losing touch with reality. I absolutely love my city director, Jes, and her adorable son Elijah. Equally as amazing are our associate city director, Kristin, and her deaf dog, Annie.

Ministry Site Spotlight

I’m going to try to spotlight a different ministry every time I blog. The ministry site that has really stuck out to me during the last two weeks is Project Cure. This organization collects medical supply donations and distributes them to third world countries. Project Cure is located in Nashville, Houston, Phoenix, and Denver. Since Nashville’s number one industry is health care, not music, many local hospitals partner with Project Cure by donating anything from bandages and gauze to operation tables and x-ray machines. AWESOME! What really hit me was that this organization has an operating budget of $0 and runs on donations that come through word of mouth. For instance Wal Mart ships all donations for free, and when one driver noticed a need for organizational units in the warehouse, he went up the chain of power to get some stackable units donated. There is also a local business that donates brand new boxes and packing tape to package supplies for shipping. Collaboration is key for Project Cure and I’m so excited to see how God continues to provide for them.

Who I’ve met

I have met so many great people since I’ve been here. Our ministry contacts are fantastic and the restaurant owners are super nice people (especially the ones who give us baklava!) but the people I’ve met on the street have so much personality. Jaime, sometimes called Willie Nelson is a man I met this week who reminds me of my father. With his long hair fastened in a ponytail holder and a patriotic bandana tied Rambo-style around his head, he sat down to enjoy a hot meal in the shade. I decided to sit next to him and find out some of his story. He has lived in several states including Florida and Illinois, but ended up in Nashville when his 16 year old daughter Elizabeth and her mother moved here. He went on and on about how much he loved Lizzie and spending time with her. One of his favorite pass times with her is canoeing and camping. I could tell that he loved her immensely and that it was hard for him to accept her busy teenage life schedule since it left little time to spend with her dad. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet up with him again to check how Lizzie is doing and hear more about his life.

Flood Relief

We are not working specifically with flood relief this summer, but we will be assisting some of the ministries we partner with repairs and any other flood related damages. Please be in prayer for Feed the Children. It is an amazing ministry that provides clothes, food, and much more to the surrounding area. The Feed the Children warehouse, located in East Nashville, was flooded and has been completely gutted for repairs and renovations. Hopefully they will be back in action by mid-July or sooner.

Lessons Learned

I have been learning so many important lessons about ministry, leading, and living in community since I’ve been here. One of the things that God is really showing me is a little more personal. For the first time in my life, my community doesn’t look exactly like me. As I mentioned before, our team is a crazy mixture of unique people, and I love it. I have been challenged because my normal tendency is to blend in with the people I’m around. Well, how do I blend in with five other people who are in no way the same? The answer sounds simple, “don’t blend in, just be yourself” but that is hard to do when I’m not really sure who I am. I’ve been blending for so long that I’ve forgotten who I really am. My prayer is that I can become more confident in my personality and show my true colors to the people around me without fear of judgment or ridicule. God and I definitely have some work to do, but I am definitely ready for it.

-Amber, CSM Nashville Summer 2010 City Host

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Nashville!

Monday, June 07, 2010

An Educational (Non-School) Bus Ride

My 'wow' moment took place on a public transportation bus today. Let me share :)

Our staff was faced with a challenged today called the Urban Plunge, and I was partnered with a girl named Lauren. In order to get to our location, Lauren and I had to take the bus. When we first boarded, we were some of the first people on the bus so it was pretty empty. Logically, as our bus route increased, the population on the bus increased as well. At one point, I looked up from my seat and I noticed that everyone standing in the middle of the bus was male, and almost everyone sitting down was a female. I thought it was odd, and didn't know what to think but I didn't make much of it.

A couple stops later, a man in a wheelchair was trying to board the bus. When he tried, the entire bus moved towards the back so that he could make his way on. This meant that I was going to have to stand in the aisle. As I moved further towards the back of the bus with a lot of the other women, I noticed that the few men who had been sitting started to stand in the aisles, to make the seats near them empty. None of the men sat back down, they all made sure that woman and children occupied their previous seats.

This shouldn't seem like a big deal. But for some reason, I started to tear up. When I had first boarded the bus, I noticed that I was a white minority in a poorer area than what I am used to, who is accustomed to taking a car to drive anywhere I need to go. I immediately (and unknowingly) had judged all the men I had been near as a possible threat. I guarded my purse and kept to myself. Little did I know, regardless of my poor and judgmental perceptions of these men, each of them would stand to offer his seat so that I could be comfortable and sit. They treated me equal to their wives and the other women around me.

Essentially, I received an act of love today that I didn't deserve. I, unknowingly, projected my socio-economic stereotypes onto a group of people in a public bus, and I had no substance to my stereotypes. After taking a simple 15 minutes to sit on the bus, all of the stereotypes that I had were broken, and I was the one in the wrong. Admitting this is a bit embarrassing. However, being able to share the love that I experienced through my bus ride far outweighs the embarrassment that I faced.

My challenge for tomorrow? I would love to show someone loving mercy who doesn't deserve it. After having experienced it today, I know the benefits that come through this grace. I was embarrassed when I was proven wrong, and I was filled with sorrow when I realized how judgmental my background has made me. However, if I can let someone experience the selflessness I saw when I was given a seat, I would be absolutely thrilled to be a part of that :)

-Stephanie, CSM Washington DC Summer 2010 City Host

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Land of God

I've heard the Kingdom of God described in many ways, but one of my favorites is that it is an "upside-down kingdom". Read the Beatitudes. Read the sermon on the plain from Luke 6. The idea that we should love our enemies, that the poor are blessed, that we should rejoice when people persecute us - it all sounds ridiculous when we hear it with the mindset of the world. But when we listen with open hearts to the call of God, when we live among those who suffering, when experience it for ourselves - that's when we see the truth and so desperately long for that "upside-down kingdom".

The following is a poem written by Scott Bessenecker. Scott is a member of the Servants Board of Elders and the author of The New Friars and How to Inherit the Earth. Servants is a missions organization devoted to living and loving God's beloved in urban slums around the world. Every day the Servant missionaries live this "upside-down kingdom". This poem gives us a taste of that glorious Kingdom.

-Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago Co-City Director

Land of God
I wondered if the “Land of God” was fictitious
Like Atlantis and risen Elvis
Something only for the superstitious
This, yeasty, feasty, blessed be the leasty, glorious Land of God

Tucked away in a Kolkata bustee
Where ten thousand women stand for sale in a line, like vending machine candy bars
In brothels of rusty tin and musty stench and lusty-driven men
I stumbled upon it, fumbled upon it, crumpled upon it

I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise
Jesus said the prostitutes were entering the Land of God ahead of everybody else
The rich are left to wrestle their camels through needle eyes
All the while the Land of God is filling up with throw away, stow away, skid row away people

Keep reading...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cuts for Mental Illness in CA

As California faces large budget cuts, many programs, such as mental health programs are being cut. Programs such as these being cut could very well lead to people falling through the cracks and ending up on the streets, or worse, in jail.
Read a recent LA Times article about this issue...
-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles City Director