Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Homeless Students in Houston

Over 3000 students in the Houston Independent School District are homeless. This article recounts some of their stories and experiences.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harvard Students Reach out to Homeless Community

A recent article shares about how some Harvard students are not only reaching out to the local homeless community, but also gaining valuable life lessons that aren't taught in the traditional classroom. Check it out!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Youth Pastor Tries to "Do Missions" Differently

Recently, a CSM group leader posted this great blog post! We wanted to share it with you, too...enjoy!

To really have an impact on some body’s life you need to have continued contact with them. Do you agree? Then why do missions differently?
A mission team’s goal is to impact others lives by bringing the love of Christ to them.  Why, then, do we not have continued contact after we return home?
Our church needed something different. We needed to help our students focus on issues of compassion while able to respond with justice. Most of us are great at compassion; we are quick to meet an immediate or felt need.Not to diminish this, but often times it seems to be that our cultural response is no more then a band aid or quick fix. Then when it comes to justice or the root of the problem we have no idea what we are doing.
So, this past summer we decided to partner with Center for Student Missions (CSM) for our summer mission trip.  It turned out to be the best trip I have ever taken and my students have ever experienced.  The main reason for our switch was not because other organizations are wrong or bad, but because CSM focuses on both compassion and justice.  They helped our students work directly with programs and organizations that address immediate need, while helping people deal with the systemic issues of poverty, homelessness, broken families and so on.
CSM is in the community the whole year rather than just during the summer months.  This is that continued contact that changes people’s lives. In a sense they are really “Doing Life Together” like the ECC. On top of that, they are “not working for these organizations, but partnering with them”, like Covenant World Relief.
The blessing of this trip was expanding our view of who God is; a more holistic view of missions; a new commitment by our students to be involved in working in our own community; and a revitalized commitment to relationships.
For more info on CSM check out their website:
“And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” (Act 1:8 MSG)

-JJ Johnson, Youth Pastor from New London Covenant Church (New London, MN)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Street Papers Give Homeless Great Opportunity

Throughout the nation, street papers (newspapers made and sold by the homeless community) are selling great! While other mainstream newspapers are struggling big time, street papers are giving great opportunities to the local homeless community. Some individuals are even able to break out of homelessness thanks to the revenue they bring in monthly by selling street papers.
It's a simple concept - a homeless individual can buy the papers for 25 cents each and sell them for a $1. With a growing demand for papers like this, that $1 easily adds up!
Here's a great article from the Nashville Public Radio about the rise in popularity among street papers.
And you can check out these street papers from around the nation:
Street Sense from Washington DC
Street News from New York City
StreetWise from Chicago
Real Change from Seattle

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas shop AND donate to CSM!

That's right! You can be automatically donating to CSM while you're doing your Christmas shopping online through GoodShop - it's easy! Head on over to their website and enter "CSM" into the question "Who do you GoodShop for?". 
They'll also give you some amazing coupons to help you save money this season! Here are some of the participating sites and just a sample of their offers: | Coupon: Buy 12 Roses, Get 6 Free | Donation: 7%
Barnes and Noble | Coupon: 15% off any one item | Donation: 4%
Best Buy | Coupon: 10% Off Select Major Appliances   | Donation: .125-3%
DSW | Coupon: Free Shipping | Donation: 4%
Hotwire | Coupon: Up to 40% off | Donation: $1-1%
Overstock | Coupon: Free shipping on gift cards | Donation: .5-3.5%
Sears | Coupon: $5 off $50 purchase | Donation: 2-2.5%
Target | Coupon: Free Shipping on Real Trees, Wreaths and Garland  | Donation: 1.5-3.5%

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Child Trafficking True Reality in Oakland

The FBI has been taking big strides to crack down on child trafficking throughout the United States. Many are still surprised to learn that modern-day slavery exists in this country, but it's absolutely in our backyard.
NPR just came out with a great story on some girl who've overcome "the game" and are now beacons of hope to other young girls. Check out Trafficked Teen Girls Describe Life In 'The Game'...

Learn more about how YOU can serve with CSM in Oakland!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Can you spare any change?

Anyone who's spent any time in the city has been confronted with this question.  I've struggled for a while on how to respond to people on the streets asking me for money.  It feels like either way, I don't feel quite right.  When I give money, I wonder what the person will use it for (drugs, alcohol?).  When I say no, I feel guilty for not doing anything.  And when I just ignore them, I feel convicted of not even engaging the problem.  Is this really how Jesus would treat this person?  Is this how I would treat Jesus (Matthew 25)?  Shouldn't love and compassion overrule suspicion and guilt?  Arloa Sutter - a woman who is the executive director of Breakthrough Ministries in Chicago, and has years of experience actively engaging with those who are homeless - offers some great wisdom and insight into this issue in this article.  Check it out and be encouraged! 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Taking a New Look at Charity

Many organizations are coming to realize that the old way of "handing out charity" isn't the way to go anymore. A recent Christianity Today article explores what it means to empower those on the receiving end and to give justly. Check it out!