Paul Randall, CSM Houston City Director, has faithfully served with us in that city for 11 years. This fall, he will be transitioning to a new position as Associate Pastor for his church, Ecclesia. We are beyond grateful for his years of service to CSM, for loving on the city of Houston so well, and for the pastoral heart he's shared with countless folks passing through the doors of CSM Houston this past decade. Thank you, Paul!
As I look back over my time with CSM, I am filled with gratitude.
My predecessor at CSM, Stacey Emmick, mentioned to me a decade ago that “we get to work with the best people in Houston.” That has certainly been my experience. Our ministry site partners are truly saints. There is Margo, the retired school teacher who offered to help tutor homeless friends with their resumes and wound up directing a multi-faceted homeless outreach program for more than a decade; and Ruthie, who is a clown by weekend and provides thousands of meals for hungry children by day. Then there are Scottie, Fred and Becky, who left behind comfortable lives in the suburbs to move into a very low-income apartment complex in order to minister to the families there; and Tre’ Voy, a sharp young man who is mentoring and pouring into needy kids in another apartment complex, just to name a few. I could go on and on describing the lives of my friends who are changing other’s lives for the better every day in the city of Houston.
Through CSM I have had the privilege of introducing these saints to hundreds of students who come to the city to love Jesus and love people. Building these bridges leads to remarkable transformation in the lives of our participants. This is a reflection from a college student who served with us this spring:
"Throughout high school and my first semester in college, I was always very actively involved in service. I was given a heart for the hurt and suffering, but I always found this heart broken with an overwhelming sense of discouragement each time I volunteered. I saw so much pain, so much sorrow, so many deep problems for which I could not fathom a humanly possible solution.
It wasn't until two weeks ago when I spent five days at CSM Houston serving such beautiful, unique individuals that I finally saw the all encompassing solution to all these worldly problems: the Lord's amazing love. I saw in our homeless friends a light and a joy that was brighter than any darkness in their lives. And that light was Christ's love and the love of Christ. These individuals were living testimonies to the transformative power of the Lord in our lives. The fact that all of us are sinners and equal before the eyes of God and yet He loves us all the same, giving us hope and strength even in our most difficult times. Because of His perfect and merciful love for me, I realized that I am called to love in just the same way."
It is beautiful to me to see how God continues to use CSM to reveal His transformative love to our participants and those we serve. I am happy to report that we hired this student to serve as one of our City Hosts this summer!
This brings me to another facet of CSM for which I am deeply grateful: the opportunity to hire, train and mentor over 70 seasonal City Hosts and Apprentices. These college-age students and recent graduates are passionate about Jesus and about justice, and about introducing youth to what God is doing in the city. Journeying with them through their time in the city has been a deep blessing for me.
I have also been blessed with five different Associate Directors who have each been very important to me and to my family. Lauren (Aulbert) White, Megan Breed, Britani Wade, Mike Stevenson, and most recently, Rebekah McKinney, have each been gifted, faithful partners who have made my life much easier. Without each of their unique gifts and their hearts for Jesus and the city, CSM Houston would not be what it is today. I am most grateful for each of them.
Despite nearly eleven years serving in this capacity, I am still amazed and humbled by the donations, both small and large, which have come in to support me and CSM Houston. I know that countless prayers have been offered to undergird and uphold us. A great many of you have given selflessly of your hearts and your treasure. Thank you for participating with us in what God is doing in the city.
Your prayers and your donations constitute full-fledged partnership in this effort. You, alongside our group participants, our ministry site partners, our housing site partners, and our restaurant partners, are a vital part of the web which is CSM. You have helped us all to see the Kingdom of God more clearly in the midst of the brokenness of the city. You have helped us to build bridges, to break down stereotypes, to seek justice, and to see numerous lives transformed by the power of God’s love. Typing these words, I can feel deep emotion welling up within me. Thank you. From the depths of my heart, I thank you.
- Paul Randall, CSM Houston City Director