Friday, December 30, 2011

Authentic Ministry in the Mile High City

As I sit and reflect on 2011 I am so grateful for the opportunity to be connected to what the Lord is doing in Denver. One of my favorite memories from this year is a week I spent with 6 amazing women. I had the opportunity this fall to host a very special group that was unlike any I have served beside. They were a group of women who are currently homeless and living in a transitional housing program here in Denver. As part of their program the education coordinator wanted to implement a time to serve together, so we spent 3 days volunteering around Denver. I will admit that I was a little nervous at first, because our program is usually geared towards suburban and rural youth coming from outside the city. It was such a humbling week for me and so encouraging and refreshing to serve alongside women who are used to being served. They did a fantastic job!
The first day we worked with a refugee employment program, Safari Thrift. The women were very interested in learning about refugees and it was eye opening for them to make the connection that they had a lot of similarities with their new refugee friends. Many of them made comments about how similar their programs were in regards to helping people get a fresh start and become self-sufficient.  It was one of those days when the world seems a bit smaller. 
My favorite part of the week was taking them on the prayer tour. I’ve given our prayer tour about a hundred times, but this was a unique one that I won’t soon forget. It was a special time for us to pray over our own city, and to learn together through conversation and story. At times I was sharing with them and sometimes they were teaching me. I felt privileged that they were so willing to share openly and honestly. 
We worked with World Vision one morning and also went to a residence for seniors with low-income for their regular Thursday  afternoon dance. Watching the women serve at the senior center was really fun. They were dancing and visiting, and I didn’t have to encourage them at all. The just jumped right in! 
My hope is that this would become a regular part of the education curriculum at the Transitional House and we can do this every year. I would love to partner with a local church women’s group where they would each “sponsor” one of the women and also come serve alongside us. 
I desire to grow and challenge myself with what authentic ministry really looks like and the week I spent with these six women definitely continued that journey for me. I really appreciate the many different ways CSM can be connected and a resource to the city. 

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Video: "Hard Times Generation"

And a follow up to that original broadcast....

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CSM Boston Impact

Over the past year, CSM has had the great opportunity to bring in a handful of "test groups" into the city of Boston. We were blown away by the quality of ministry that is happening here and the great need for extra hands to help the individuals doing God's work. Here are some quotes from the individuals who partnered with us in this new city:

I commit to…
“To be a better steward with what God has given me and to reach out to others more and let God pull me out of my comfort zone.”
“I want to get more involved in service in Boston!”
“To commit more time to actually serve, not just think and pray about it. But to build it into my schedule.”
“I am more committed to being involved in different cultures as they interest me greatly and make life more interesting.”

Words for a ministry site…
St. Luke's-San Lucas 
“I loved St. Lukes – Father Edgar and his time put the scriptures into action.”
“St. Luke’s Church – Father Edgar: I was so inspired and amazed at your ministry and your compassion and hard work toward helping others in your community. God bless and thank you so much!”

Seafarer's Friend
“The pastor/director at Seafarer’s Friend was so passionate about his work. It is his life to serve and give brotherly love. Very inspirational and contagious! I’d love to work with him more.”
“Director at Seafarer’s Friend – Thanks for the help and comfort you give to people you don’t even know.”

Place of Promise
“Place of Promise was a fantastic site. All the kids enjoyed it and it made a deep impact spiritually on many of them.”
“Place of Promise showed us that God can truly bring you through anything.”
“Place of Promise touched me deeply. They were true examples of people living out their faith.”

My favorite part of the trip…
“I never knew about all the problems in my own community and it opened my eyes.”
“I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to actually help someone and make a small difference.”

Learn how YOU can serve with us in Boston!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Value of Short-term Missions

Over the past couple of years there has been much debate of the actual value and/or effectiveness of short-term missions. Are we doing more harm than good? Are we just supporting the cycle of poverty in US cities? Can a group of middle school students really make a difference in a city that needs so
much? Would the money the mission groups spend to come be better used by the organization and ministries in the city?

After working for CSM for almost eight years, the value of short-term missions comes down to one word, effectiveness. The complicated part is how you define effectiveness. CSM’s mission statement is: To provide an effective urban ministry experience that transforms lives, influences churches and communities, and honors Christ. 

So what does an effective urban ministry experience look like? Does it mean your group has sorted hundreds of cans and fed 100 homeless people? Sure, that is effective and it is important work that  you can feel pretty good about, but is that all there is? At CSM, we work with already existing organizations and ministry sites in the city. There is no point of re-inventing the wheel. With our model, relationships are more valuable than gold. We pride ourselves in listening to the needs of the city and understanding how our volunteers can best help those needs.

We recently met with a long-time ministry partner. Over the past couple of years she had gone through some very tough illnesses and has not been able to do ministry as much as she has wanted.  We still have been sending out groups to serve with her ministry even when she hasn’t been capable. At the meeting, she was sharing how it has been so hard to take a step back and slow down because she is so passionate about her ministry. She then went on to share that it makes it easier to know the CSM groups are still conducting her ministry even though she is physically unable to do it at this time. To me, that is effectiveness. It is not how much you do or get done but more how you meet the needs of those you come in contact with.  

-Justin Perry, CSM Philadelphia City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Philadelphia!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Video: Re-Thinking Christmas

For a few years now, we've been sharing this video with you. The folks at Urban Entry have included it in the DVD "UE1: Anything Helps?..." It's a refreshing concept of meeting the needs of the community and giving the gift of dignity at the same time. Take a look...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homeless at 60

Being homeless is a challenge every day. When the holidays come around the challenges can seem even more overwhelming. Check out this story of how the kindness of others encouraged a woman who found herself homeless at the age of 60.  Simple and small blessings really do matter!   

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Ministry Partner's Story

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Are you a ministry in one of these cities?
Los Angeles 
New York City
San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area
Washington DC

We'd love to connect with you to explore how we can partner in serving the community. Please email us!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Check out our new DVD!

CSM had the awesome opportunity to work with Urban Entry to put "our story" into film. Check it out:

CSM Promo DVD: The Story from CSM Home Office on Vimeo.

Check out all of the segments on our website...

 Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Take a Big Bite!

Homeboy Industries is an amazing organization based in Los Angeles. They provide job training, placement and education to former gang members.
If you ever have the opportunity to dine in the Homegirl Cafeorder a pie, or partner with them in some way - do it! You will not regret it for a moment!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Los Angeles!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

2011 Photo Contest Winners!

BIG thanks to all who entered this year's photo contest. We had some amazing entries and you can still check them all out on CSM's Facebook Page.

This year's first place winner is Amanda Reynolds! Here's her winning entry:

Second place goes to Sina Williams for her entry:

Both ladies will receive Visa gift cards!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!