Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Story of Saturdays

In October, a special girl invited me into her home. At 15, she was the oldest to 5 younger brothers. Her mom had gone into labor two months early and they needed a ride to the hospital. Simple enough. What began as a small act of piling kids into my car, jamming to Taylor Swift, and trying to explain to every nurse at the hospital that "no, these aren't my kids." and "no, their mother doesn't speak english.", turned into a relationship that motivates my weeks, humbles me daily, and gives little pieces of heaven to so many. 

Later this same evening Abdi, the oldest brother, asked if I would come play soccer on Saturday. Due to my secret desire to go back to being 10 years old…my heart jumped! Soccer on Saturday sounded like the best idea. I had been praying for a way to become a part of this family's life and through those the small words, God laid my invitation before me.

That following Saturday I showed up with a small box of chalk,  a somewhat flat kick ball, and a jump rope. I knocked on the door to Abdi's house and as it opened I watched about 20 kids between the ages of 6 months to 15 come pouring out of this small house. As my legs became inner twined with little arms hugging, and holding on tight, my ears began to be filled with a sound I had been missing.

"Joy as a sound' may be a strange way to say it, but I can't find any other words to describe this particular kind of sound…it just sounded like…well, joy.

After a long day of playing… I realized quickly in no way could I do this every Saturday by myself. 

I had been in Nashville for a short month and was still in the process of meeting people and making new friends. I began to pray intentionally for God to provide.

In January God placed in my life two beautiful new friends. 

The first was my new roommate, co-worker and now dear friend, Corisa. Her love for people and desire to support and come alongside another is by far one of the most inspiring gifts.

The next was a new friend who will be working for CSM in Denver, his name is Jordan. His passion for speaking with his entire being of the love of Jesus is something that brings life to our time in the community, as well as our friendship.

Every week (with the exception of the first) I have not come alone. God has been so faithful in providing these kids with more and more "big kid" hands each Saturday. It overwhelms me to recall all the many faces who have come out just play and watching my friends feel just as loved as our small friends is where I see the Kingdom of God come full circle. My heart is full.

Saturdays have become the highlight of our week. Our short park day has gone from one family to around 15. We are meeting parents and building other relationships with the wonderful folks in this community.  Our play time has gone from just soccer and kickball, to... jump rope, wheelbarrow races, football, ring around the rosy, swings, chalk, fighting over bikes, puppies, dancing, popsicles, hugs, kitties, Easter egg hunts, piggy back rides, screaming into the drain pipe, spinning in circles and running until we literally can't run anymore! 

But I think if you had to ask any "big kid" their favorite part, it would be sitting in a small circle at the end of our time and hearing what each child is thankful for. 

My favorite answer to this day is a tie between "cupcakes" or Abdi…"You guys are what I am thankful for - you're my best friends."

I think that when Jesus said "let the little children come to me" it was because he knew two things.
1. That little kids are the most fun!
2. That the sound of joy…pure and unhindered, sticks to your soul like honey…is found in those small voices that fill my heart each week. 

Teach us to keep loving. Teach us to keeping playing. Teach us to keep laughing. Thank you for joy.

- Bailey Hazouri, CSM Nashville Apprentice

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Experiencing Surrender

In my short life, one thing I have come to grips with is that there are many times to speak, but there are way more opportunities to keep silent. If you do not mind, I will go ahead and add in “to listen”. Most of the time, my duty with CSM Denver is to coordinate and help execute missional experiences in the city of Denver for short term missionaries. My focus is to not only serve the city but to teach our students about the many issues that we as Christians need to address in order to bring the kingdom into the city. This often-times puts me in a place of speaking in to students’ lives.

This spring, however, I got the opportunity to dream up, lead, and participate in an experience that allowed me to learn. The Urban Intensive was extremely humbling to dive deeply into the ins and outs of homelessness. We were able to look at homelessness from every angle such as age, race, and gender.

One of the most impactful experiences from that week was we, 3 other guys and myself, were given the opportunity to sleep in a shelter here in Denver with 300 other street men. The night began with a meager meal filled with empty calories. 
Our group rendezvoused afterwards in our bunks and, as we were lying down, the fire alarm went off. With much frustration, we all emerged like corpses from our beds and were herded like cattle outside so the fire department could disarm the fire alarm. 20 minutes and a street fight later were back inside from the below freezing temperatures and were laying in our bunks. 

With each cough and loud snore I became increasingly frustrated and angry that someone would dare keep me awake with their loud and interrupted breathing. I wanted to leave because it was loud, and I resented the fact that other people were in charge of me and I began to be humbled by how much this bothered me. In many cases, people on the streets refuse to go into the shelters because they feel their autonomy is threatened and have been hurt, in some cases badly, when they were not in charge.  I myself had wondered why these men or women did not join a program or get help which often times leads to a surrendering of freedom. 

As I was stepping off of my high horse, I could almost feel the weight of hypocrisy on my shoulders because I often-times do not surrender my autonomy to Christ even when He has my best interest, freedom, in mind. “When Christ calls a man he beckons him to come and die.” (Dietrich Bonheoffer). I fell asleep watching the men in the park across the street in the freezing cold maintain their freedom. I wondered how hard it must be to have been hurt so many times and still trust in others. I wondered how we, as Christians, could respond to this pain of distrust and point others to a Savior that not only wants you to surrender to Him, but allows us to have freedom from the many other things that enslave us.

- Jay Fincher, CSM Denver Associate City Director

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Monday, May 06, 2013


The new year has brought many new opportunities for us here at CSM Boston, one of which being more visibility in our area. This spring was a particularly exciting time of the year for me here at CSM Boston as it not only marked my one year anniversary of opening up CSM Boston, but also being able to meet and serve with many groups from in and around the Boston area that came to serve with us this Spring. 

It's hard to think back to this time last year as I was still in the planning stages of preparing for a busy summer. Since then, we have had some 420 people step through the door here, hearts on fire and ready to serve the Lord in the city! 

This Spring we were blessed with half of our groups being local, some of them had gone on previous trips to some of our other cities and were excited to here that we had opened up a site in Boston and others had never heard of CSM before and were able to experience a life changing trip during there time here in Boston. Local groups are very exciting to me as they  get to do something unique here that many other groups don't get to do and that is be part of a continuum of ministry that will most likely take them back to many of the ministry sites they were able to serve at during their trip with us. These students have the opportunity if they chose to come back to the city, week in and week out, even after their trip has ended, to serve and show the love of Christ here in Boston. 

There's nothing I enjoy more than seeing a groups leader at the end of their time at a ministry site asking for contact info so that they can come back and serve again and instead of hearing what are normally final goodbye's, hearing "Good bye...and We'll See You Again Soon!" 

- Chris Nazareth, CSM Boston City Director

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