Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's quite simple...

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.
– Micah 6:8 in The Message

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CNN Report: The face of America's homeless youth

CNN recently posted a great article called The face of America's homeless youth.
Many don't know that youth make up a large portion of today's homeless population. Denver has found itself to be a hub for youth that runaway from home in search of a new beginning. We encourage you to read the article!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

“Come one, Come all to the Christ that saves”

I can’t remember where I heard this quote but for the last few weeks, it’s been resonating with me. As a summer city host, I got to witness a lot of things that I never even thought about when I was in school - such as the homeless of the city, the working poor, and most importantly, how us followers of Christ are being “the light” in these situations. I could sit here and list hundreds of ways that is being done, but for the sake of time, I will only talk about my favorite site.
There is a place that I get the chance to visit only once a week, its called the Waystation and it is one of the most physically present ways you can see God’s handiwork. Rather than tell you what the Waystation is and what they do, I will simply tell you what happens on a typical day there(from the perspective of a city host of course).
On Waystation days, I wake up at 6 in the morning. We (the group and I) must be out of the door by 6:30 am and on our way. The Waystation is held at a church downtown called Palmer Episcopal Church, so that is where we arrive at 6:50 am. As we walk up to the Church, we can see a line of people already waiting for breakfast, most of them homeless. As soon as we enter the premises, we find Terry the director of the program and he immediately puts the kids to work in the kitchen cutting pastries, putting together peanut butter and jelly, and filling containers with gallons of juice. There are usually other volunteers in the kitchen by the time we arrive and they are already cooking whatever is for breakfast that day. Options include pancakes, grits, eggs, sausages, soup, rice, pastries, etc.
At 7:30, after the kids are done putting out the bread and pastries, there is usually a span of thirty minutes in which most of the group can sit around and talk. At 8am breakfast is put out,  the doors are opened , and this is where I see Christ the most. People start pouring in to get in line for food. Some look grumpy, others are smiling, some say good morning, and others barely grunt in your direction. Regardless of anyone’s personal attitude, Christ is present and I can feel Him as I put on a smile, say good morning and hand a man perhaps the only meal he might have for the day. The Waystation feeds about 300 people on a typical day so this process is repeated about 300 times.
After everyone has had a chance to get food, there is a call for seconds and I often see some of the homeless getting food to go by stuffing plastic Wal-mart or Kroger bags with their seconds. I remember eating with a group of homeless men one day at the Waystation and I saw a man stuffing his bag with rice and sausages and upon feeling my eyes staring at him, he looks at me and says “This is the only meal I’m goin’ have all day man, gotta plan for the future right?” followed by a boisterous laughter. This especially touched my heart because I can’t imagine not knowing where your next meal might come from or if it will ever come at all.
After breakfast is served, we head back to the housing site and in my mind, the question arises whether or not I will see the same people next week, because there is a hope in me that maybe somehow by next week their situation would have changed and they could be the ones volunteering, but that is in Christ’s hands. What I can do is thank God for providing a service such as the Waystation and hope that more Christians take the time out to really be “the light” as Christ has called us to.
-Israel, CSM Houston Summer 2010 City Host

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grace and Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace and love lately; wondering how better to tear down walls and build bridges with our partners, groups and people of Houston. Stephen Sciolino says, “Love in its purest form is the most powerful weapon we have against hatred, indifference, prejudice, misunderstanding and divisiveness. The more we genuinely love, the more we understand that this commandment is life altering for everyone involved. Just as water rushing against hardened stone eventually erodes the stone, so love in action breaks down all barriers between people. It’s a commandment which works miracles and brings the Kingdom of God closer to reality.”
Beautiful isn’t it? This summer I have seen pure love in action. I got the opportunity to sit and eat lunch at this great little Cajun place with a middle school group this summer. In talking with one of the boys on the trip, I asked him how God had surprised him during the week.
He responded by saying, “Well, I was surprised to find out that homeless people are just like me. And so are the kids that we’ve been working with. They’re all just kids and we all need love. So I’ve tried to love them while they’ve been loving me.” All this from a brilliant 13-year-old from Tomball, TX. He’s right and so is Sciolino. The love of Christ is rich and free, says an old hymn, and I have seen that love displayed in the smallest of actions that made the biggest impact. Painting with college students, playing speed scrabble with my hosts, and in Paul being a great listener. I have seen love transcend boundaries in my new neighbor giving us some homemade pear preserves. Love bound up the brokenhearted when one of our groups offered up a simple, but genuine note of thanks to one of our partners who was tired and burned out.
In the light of Love, we are carried to the feet of Jesus and filled to overflow. I think each day I learn more about love, grace and sacrifice than ever before. As many of you know, I recently began a new adventure living in community in an economically depressed neighborhood in Houston called Third Ward. Community living has already opened my eyes to seeking grace and humility and I’m constantly figuring out what this pure love looks like.
-Britani Wade, CSM Houston Associate City Director

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Chronos and Kairos

The ancient Greeks had two different words for time, chronos and kairos. These two words of time differentiated the difference between “normal time” (chromos) and “special time” (kairos). Kairos time was a time that something special happened, a specific moment in time. In Christian circles, sometimes kairos is referred to as “the appointed time in the purpose of God.” In contrast, chromos is all the other time. This is equally important of an time, because it is all the other time that takes us through the day. It’s waking up in the morning; it’s showering and getting ready for the day; it’s driving to work; it’s… every day.
In urban ministry, there’s a lot of chronos time. Most of the time, we are in a holding pattern - praying, plugging away for something to happen. We meet with our friends who live on the streets; we make connections with ministry sites; we fight to for basic human rights.
For the most part, it’s hard work. It’s a process that can be difficult for people who want to see change right away. It’s hard waiting for the kairos time, where people decide they need a change. But recently in my life, there has been a great deal of kairos time, not specifically with the people I work with, but with work & in personal life, change has been a major theme in my life.
As the summer ends, I am learning to settle into the chronos time, and beginning to relax. I ask that you pray for God’s hand to continue in my life, and that He brings rest in this slow(er) season of Fall.

-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles City Director

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Houston Food Bank Expands!

The Houston Food Bank will soon be the largest in the world.  With an impending new building, and a focus on fresh produce, beautiful things are happening to help serve the hungry in Houston. Check out this article!

-Paul Randall, CSM Houston City Director

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