Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CSM's Top Five of 2014

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11

2014 has been a GREAT year here at CSM! We are so grateful that each of you have been a part of it.

Here's our list for our Top 5 Moments of 2014...

5. Hearing from our dear friend, Shane Claiborne.
Shane recently sent us some super kind words. You know when you have a friend that just "gets you"? That's the kind of gratitude we feel for him and his work!
“Short term mission trips can create long term change. Most of the folks I know who are changing the world either grew up in tough places or were exposed to them on a mission trip. But short term trips can also be done in an irresponsible way that is sensational, voyeouristic, even patronizing. You often hear folks return from mission trips say: "I got much more out of the trip than a gave... I thought I went to bless, but I was the one who was blessed." And that is part of the problem. Sometimes we don't build the correct foundation or set up the proper posture when doing missions so that those who serve and those who are served are both dignified and honored, and in so doing, honor Christ. I can confidently say that the Center for Student Missions is doing short term mission trips as well as they can be done. The work of CSM is thoughtful, wise, symbiotic, and generative... and CSM is doing a brilliant job furthering the Kingdom of God. I am delighted to call them a partner in the revolution.”
Shane Claiborne
Author and activist
Red Letter Christians

4. Challenging you all with a quiz - Which US City Do YOU Belong In?
Did you take it?? If not - head on over to our quiz now and let us know which US city you belong in!

3. Hiring some amazing new staff! 
We are blessed to call these folks part of CSM's team now:
CSM Chicago - Lauren Maniaci (now City Director), Emily Molloy and Sarah Trax
CSM Detroit - Emily Hoffmann
CSM Houston - Jason McMinn
CSM Los Angeles - Allison Schuh
CSM Nashville - Breanne McLendon (now City Director) and Mary Timaeus
CSM Washington DC - Eno Udoibe 
CSM Home Office - Laura Hayner (PT Apprenticeship Coordinator)

2. Opening CSM Detroit!

After much hard work, some seriously awesome "God-incidences", and tons of prayer, CSM opened it's doors in the grand city of Detroit this year!

And we'd love to still have you become a financial partner in seeing CSM Detroit become a full-time, year-round site.

1. Serving our communities for 268,272 hours!

Over 9,050 participants came through CSM's doors this year. They provided over 268,272 hours of service in 11 cities across the United States - all in the name of Jesus. We are honored and humbled to be equipping the saints of the Church to serve His people.

We eagerly look forward to all that 2015 has in store. Join us in being Jesus' hands and feet in the city!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gifts that give back!

If you're on the hunt for ethical gifts this Christmas season, here are a few resources that may help...

A few other favorites of our staff are:

Thistle Farms - out of Nashville, TN, they supply natural beauty products and jobs for women in transition.

Homeboy Industries - out of Los Angeles, CA, you can find delicious baked goods and more, all while supporting gang members looking for "jobs not jail".

Where else would you suggest?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Gourmet Recipes from Chefs who Feed the Homeless

Check out these amazing kitchens showing dignity to the homeless through good food. Each of them also share a delicious Thanksgiving recipe to try out! 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

It's #GivingTuesday - TODAY is the day to give back!

It was expected that Americans spent nearly $37 BILLION over the Black Friday weekend and nearly $4 billion on Cyber Monday. That's billion with a "B", friends!

What if that money was used for good? What if it began to fuel after-school programs for at-risk youth, nutritional meals for the elderly and terminally ill, ESL classes for refugees fleeing persecution? How much better would this world be if we shifted our focus from "presents" to "presence"?

Here at CSM, that's exactly what we strive to do. We serve the often-forgotten of this world and partner in Kingdom work across the United States. Simply put, we could not serve these eleven cities without the generosity of our donors.

Here's what your gifts have enabled us to do this year:
  • 9,054 individuals served in 11 cities.
  • Over 268,000 hours of service were provided to hundreds of critical ministries (homeless shelters, food banks, kid's ministries, summer Vacation Bible Schools, and SO much more!)
  • 8  Apprentices spent the year in cities across the country intentionally serving in their communities, learning from local leadership and developing their skills as urban leaders.
  • We opened our 11th city - Detroit!
What an amazing year it's been! Thank you for your partnership in making that amazing impact a reality. 

Want to make a difference this Giving Tuesday?? We would love to have you join one of our major fundraising teams:

Apprenticeship - a year long leadership training program!
Detroit - our newest city!

Thanks to your generosity and the commitment of our groups and ministry partners, we look forward to 2015 with expectant hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Praying for Ferguson

Our hearts are with everyone in Ferguson. We are burdened for the community, the families of both Michael and Darren, the students who cannot go to school, as well as the businesses that have been burned down. We know that the only true peace comes from the Lord, so please join us in prayer. 

Pray with us as we ask God to move through the hearts of the rioters, residents and emergency responders. 

Pray for radical racial reconciliation in the entire St. Louis area as the city begins to heal from recent events and our nation as a whole. 

- Lauren Maniaci, CSM Chicago City Director

Read more responses from other Christian leaders...

Friday, November 07, 2014

Why be an Apprentice?

2014-2015 Apprentices        

Immediately after I graduated from Temple University in May, I began working for CSM as a city host in Philadelphia. As a city host, I was tasked with leading numerous youth groups on their mission trip experience in the City of Brotherly Love. Being a city host broke me and challenged me in every way imaginable: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I loved every bit of it, but I wanted more.

I sought to become an Apprentice, because I wanted to continually be challenged in all of the aforementioned ways, not just by following a devotional or going to church but through my place of work. Working with CSM is more than a full time job. it is a life experience, and I wanted my experiences to run longer and grow deeper. The Apprenticeship is meant to serve as a challenge but also assist in fostering new leaders. 

Additionally, I simply could not see myself jumping into a job where I wasn't serving people directly. I strive every single day to have a servant's heart and make helping others a reality versus a way to check off my good deed for the day. I've been blessed tremendously in my life with copious amounts of love and support, so much so that it's sometimes hard to comprehend. Other people unfortunately don't have that, and I want to be able to illustrate to them that such love is possible to obtain.

The more time I spend in Boston, the more I get to see why I belong here at this time. I'm ready to share blessings with my Bostonian brothers and sisters.

- Alexis, CSM Boston Apprentice

Learn more about CSM's Apprenticeship...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Living out Romans 12

When thinking about verses that have helped me learn the importance of service, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 12, which is my very favorite chapter of the Bible.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
                                                                                        Romans 12: 1-8
I first truly understood this passage on my very first mission trip, at the age of 23. I had been attending church for about a year and decided that my church’s trip to the Dominican Republic seemed like a really cool adventure and a great way to spend a week in July. It was…but not in any way that I expected!

We spent a week working with locals to build a parsonage for a church, and helped run a VBS for a local pastor that we have a very strong partnership with, Luis. It was amazing and humbling to walk in support of local leadership. We spent time with Luis’s family and congregation and really get to know the community that we were supporting.

I remember being super frustrated, at the beginning of the week, with teammates who weren’t committed to or successful with the construction task at hand. I felt that I had to prove that I could do it all, so that I could show everyone that I was doing my mission trip “the right way.” I was pretty new to the church at that point and was still processing what “following Christ” meant in my life.
One morning our devotional time focused on Romans 12, and how our gifts all come together to build a community of people following Christ.

And that was the moment of true conversion for me.

The people on my team who were not gifted in construction (and, despite my best efforts, I DEFINITELY include myself in that group!) kept everyone’s water bottles full, offered encouragement, played with the kids in the neighborhood and used their amazing gifts to offer support to those who were building, and, when it came time to run the VBS, those were the people who thrived. They didn’t need any extra push to sit on the floor and spend a few hours coloring and playing with the kids.

I felt like I was watching the Bible come to life and walk down the street with me. I truly saw the value of serving as a team.  I began to see my gifts and weaknesses as God given. Each of our weaknesses give another person space to truly shine, just the way God made them.

I am so thankful for that trip. It was the very beginning of a journey that led me to exactly where I am today. I was baptized as a new daughter in Christ on the last day of that trip and I committed my life to loving and serving the Lord and His people in the spirit of Romans 12. Living out my gifts and giving my beautiful brothers and sisters room to live out theirs - because no one’s giftedness is any more important than anyone else’s. They work together to create the glorious body of Christ right here on Earth.    

- Jessica Fothergill, CSM Boston Associate City Director

Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Scary Things about Short-term Missions

1. Having to plan for months…
CSM takes the stress out of planning and lets you serve alongside your group while on your trip. We will plan every aspect of your trip from where you serve, to where you eat, to where you sleep. You arrive and we guide!

2. The Food…
We will make sure all your students are well fed for the week. We will provide your students with breakfast each morning, a sack lunch, and a dinner out each night. CSM prides itself on its community partnerships and thus each group will get to dine at some of our favorite local ethnic restaurants each night.

3. Safety…
Your group’s safety is CSM’s number one priority! For this reason CSM only partners with existing and established ministry partners in all of our cities to help ensure your groups safety. For the duration of your trip you will also be joined by an experienced and trained staff person.

4. So much money…
Trips start at just $65 per person per night (with discounts available for college students!) Included in that cost are your housing, meals, schedule, and an experienced CSM staff person to lead your trip for the week.

5. Hurting, rather than Helping…
As an organization we strive to provide authentic and sustainable ministry in all of our cities. In order to do this, we actually have full staff that live and are invested in all of our cities that we have offices in so that work does not begin and end after your group leaves, but continues long into the future.  Learn more about this in a recent article from our President Dan Reeve.

CSM takes the “fear” out of missions!

Call 267-928-2620 or email registration@csm.org today to find out how your group can serve with us!

- Chris Nazareth, CSM Boston City Director

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Addressing Urban Hunger in Denver and Beyond

Groups that serve with CSM Denver get the opportunity to learn about urban hunger.  Did you know that 23.5 million people in our nation live in a food desert? That means they have to travel more than a mile to access healthy food and produce.  There are many ways to get involved and become part of the solution. Check out what is going on in Denver!  

- Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Does your group/church/school talk about hunger in America? What are some ways you address this problem?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Power in Good Intentions + Asking the Right Questions

We all have good intentions, don’t we? Especially when serving the underserved, we can develop grand ideas about what we think are the best ways to help and excitedly implement these ideas without question. 

But maybe we should be asking more questions. Maybe we should inquire of those we’re trying to help, “What do you need most?” instead of guessing needs based on our limited knowledge of each individual’s situation. 

Veronika Scott started asking some good questions of the homeless population in Detroit, and those questions have paved the way for The Empowerment Plan. Instead of simply crafting coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless community, The Empowerment Plan employs current or formerly homeless women to make them. Veronika realized that those without homes would answer the question, “What do you need most?” not with “a coat” but “a job.” A job that would eventually be the key to end their homelessness, and inspire new hope for the future.

- Emily Hoffmann, CSM Detroit City Director

Come serve with CSM in Detroit!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shifting Perspectives on Homelessness

Each week, when groups come to CSM Philadelphia for service we start with a prayer tour of Philadelphia. We seek to understand the places both of brokenness and of God's light in the city. At one stop, we pray for the homeless of Philadelphia, around 4,000 people, and try to empathize about what that might look like.

One of our partners, Bethesda Project, helps to provide resources for the homeless by reaching them where they are at and responding to their specific needs. Today, they sent out a list of facts about homelessness from across the country.

Why do you think someone might be homeless? Sure, there are a variety of reasons, but it turns out that most homelessness is caused for the simple reason that a person cannot find anywhere to live that they can afford.  Especially in urban centers in the US, there just aren't enough options for those with low incomes.

Here are some other facts. Try to think of them this way: how many Facebook friends do you have - maybe 500, or 1000, or even 2000? I've got 758. Now, think of how many friends don't have housing:

-There are 610,042 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. That's 805 times as many Facebook friends as I have.
-Of that number, 222,197 are people in families without homes. That's almost 300 times the number of Facebook friends I have.
-About 18% of those without housing are chronically homeless (have been homeless before, and sometimes multiple times.)  Imagine if 18% of your Facebook friends were often homeless - for me, that's 136 friends.

How would you treat the homeless if they were your friends? Maybe we can start with a simple prayer and a moment of empathy: "Father of hope, be with our friends."

Then listen to see if God is prompting you to action - that could look like coming on a CSM trip, volunteering in your community, or supporting a local shelter. But praying is the first and best way to connect.

- Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia Associate City Director

Friday, October 10, 2014

TODAY is World Homeless Day

Did you know that today is world Homeless Action Day? People all over the world will gather, advocate and show kindness to their neighbor. Homelessness is an issue that effects countries all over the world.  Read this article to learn about the countries with some of the largest communities of homeless. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Welcome, 2014-2015 Apprentices!

The 2014-2015 class of Apprentices start today and we'd love to introduce them to you! Each of these amazing individuals will be dedicating the next year to serving their city, developing and growing personally through mentoring, partnering with a local ministry and supporting CSM's ultimate mission of providing an effective urban ministry experience.

We invite you to pray for and support these young leaders!

Alexis Wright–Whitley
Alexis Wright–Whitley 
Alexis grew up in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. In May of 2014, she graduated with a Bachelors in Journalism from Temple University, where she also studied political science and Spanish. During the summer of 2014, Alexis served as a city host in Philadelphia for CSM.
Alexis worked with children from pre–school to high school, starting when she was fourteen years old, through faith–based nonprofit, Ayuda Community Center. From there, she has worked with children through other nonprofit organzations and in a few Philadelphia public high schools, instilling leadership and providing students with art skills. She has always been a strong champion for justice and equality – believing that everyone has the ability to shine like a light in their city, to make a difference and represent the ultimate goal of Christ, love.
Alexis is a self–proclaimed geek/nerd, and enjoys anything revolving around technology and video games. She can also almost always be found snapping photos or videos to add to her portfolio. She is excited to spend her year in Boston, MA as an apprentice, because she desires to show love to a new set of strangers and empower them, while being open to receive the same empowerment.
Alexis’ email address: Alexis@csm.org
Join Alexis’ Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Josh Larson
Josh Larson
Josh hails from the city of Rockford, IL. He loves music, food, music, reading, music, good movies/television, music, running, music, being outside, and music. He also loves music. He is passionate about ministering to people through relationship. His heart for helping people has informed many of his decisions over the years, including getting involved in short–term mission trips to Kentucky and Scotland in junior high and high school as well as studying Psychology at Indiana Wesleyan University, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2014. He worked at a day camp for low–income children for several years, and God used this experience to develop a passion in his heart for inner–city children. This passion, as well as his passion for long–term, relational ministry, drove Josh to become a city host for CSM Chicago in the summer of 2014. This experience was life–changing, and Josh now feels drawn to the inner–city, possibly long–term. He feels humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to be the apprentice for CSM for the 2014 to 2015 season, and he hopes that this experience will help him focus his passion for inner–city ministry. He is learning more and more each day what it means to be a child of God as well as what intimacy with God looks like. ​
Josh’s email address: Josh@csm.org
Join Josh’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Heather Huante
Heather Huante 
Heather graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, in May of 2014. During her four years in Lubbock she had the opportunity to serve in several different capacities; everything from discipleship, leading worship services, organizing retreats for my sorority, serving on different leadership teams, counseling incoming freshmen and so forth. College was definitely the “best four years of her life”, but she is ready for a new adventure, in a new city! A few of her favorite things include creative writing, drinking tea, hiking, biking, photography, making new friends and anything that is remotely adventurous. During the summer of 2013, she served as a city host in Denver and it was during those two and a half months that she fell madly in love with the city and the people she was able to serve and serve alongside of. Heather is excited about being back in Denver and working for CSM as an apprentice; “I’ve missed my street friends and the friends I made at ministry sites. This new season is going to be challenging in a variety of different ways, but the Lord is constant and I am thankful that His plan involved me returning back to the city I love!”
Heather’s email address: Heather@csm.org
Join Heather’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Elisabeth Netjes
Haley Stinson
Haley is from Arab, AL and is a recent graduate of Athens State University, where she majored in Behavioral Science. Working with kids is something she has always done and is one of her biggest passions. She worked at a daycare for four years and taught dance during that time as well, so she has been blessed to be able to interact with and teach kids of all ages. Haley has always been an active member of her home church and has been serving as a main member of the praise team since she was 16 years old. Music is another one of her greatest passions in life and she will sing and play guitar at any given chance. Haley is quirky, fun, and loves being around people, so after spending the summer of 2014 in Houston as a city host she fell in love with the nature of CSM’s mission and community efforts and wanted to further her work with them by serving as an apprentice. “Growing up in a small town I didn’t have many opportunities, outside of a few mission trips, to experience other cultures or work with the oppressed. Even though there were needy people all around me, it’s just not something that I was ever involved with. As I have gotten older I realize that God has really created me to love and care for others, and I am so grateful for the work that CSM does and for the opportunity to serve with such an amazing organization. I can’t wait to be involved in a new type of ministry that serves its community with such passion and a true heart for God and His people!” Some of Haley’s favorite scriptures are 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, and 1 Corinthians 13. LOVE, LOVE, and MORE LOVE! Haley also loves coffee, crafts and cats, and especially the three things combined.
Haley’s e-mail address: haley@csm.org
Join Haley’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Miranda Burr
Miranda Burr
Miranda up in Newbern, TN. She studied English Literature with a minor in Education at Union University in Jackson, TN. She is currently taking time away from school to pursue other passions, such as urban ministry. While most of her life was spent in Tennessee, the Lord has taken her on several adventures that made her fall in love with the world. When Miranda was 18, she spent my summer in New York City working with international students and learning about house church planting. The following summer, she worked in North Carolina where she taught youth at a camp called Lake Junaluska. Miranda also participated in a short trip to Braunschweig, Germany with Union University, partnering with established college ministries. Her most recent missions experience was with the Center for Student Missions, as she spent this past summer in Philadelphia working as a city host. While there, Miranda fell in love with urban ministry, which spurred on her desire to work as an apprentice in Nashville.
While she continues to fall more in love with big cities, she still loves adventuring out in nature. Miranda enjoys hiking, camping, and anything around trees and water. She also loves making new friends and spending time with people. I am always up for an adventure. “I’m excited to see how the Lord deepens my desire to be a part of what he is doing in this setting.”
Miranda’s e–mail address: Miranda@csm.org
Join Miranda’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

New York City
Liz Koenig
Elizabeth (Liz) Koenig 
Liz is a Jersey–girl who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. She graduated from Philadelphia University with a degree in Fashion Design and moved to NYC to work in the apparel industry. As she made her home in the Big Apple, the Lord enlarged her heart for urban ministry and she grew to love the city in all of its complexities. Liz has served in various degrees through her church community, however, the Apprenticeship program will be a new horizon for her. To be at CSM is a very special part of her journey and she is excited to see what God has in store.
Liz’s email address: Liz@csm.org
Join Liz’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!
Ashley Tanner
Ashley Tanner 
Ashley was born and raised in Waco, TX. In May of 2013, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University. She served as a City Host in New York City for both spring and summer seasons prior to becoming the Apprentice. Ashley fell in love with New York as a young girl, and she has seen her love grow while living and serving in the city. Ashley looks forward to getting to serve the people of New York in a deeper and more personal way than she experienced as a host. She already has such a heart for the city and feels strongly that this is where God has called her. Ashley hopes to, one day, start a ministry where she can use her passion for cosmetology, students, and refugees to further God’s kingdom. She also loves to travel and hopes to backpack across Europe before she turns thirty.
Ashley’s email address: Ashley@csm.org
Join Ashley’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Scott Lasley
Scott Lasley
Scott was born in Charleston, IL, but grew up in Nett Lake, MN. He is the youngest of four siblings. While in Minnesota, he and his family served as missionaries on the Nett Lake Indian Reservation. He is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Communication. He will also be pursuing a Master’s degree in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.
Scott has been on mission trips that have consisted of hurricane relief work, after–school program planning for children and tutoring junior high/high school and college students. He has also had the pleasure of taking part in a CSM trip to Nashville, TN, and serving as a City Host for CSM in Philadelphia since the summer of 2013. While at UIS, Scott served for 2 years on the leadership team of Christian Student Fellowship and led small groups through CSF as well. He loves his niece and nephews, all things coffee, dogs, people, music, bike rides, reading and movies. “Live passionately and love deeply. My goal is to grow and be in an active pursuit of deeper faith and strong relationships with those whom I get to serve in Philadelphia.”
Scott’s email address: Scott@csm.org
Join Scott’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

San Francisco Bay Area
McKenzie Yates
McKenzie Yates
McKenzie is a  passionate and enthusiastic Christ follower from Ripon, CA, approximately 2 hours away from San Francisco, where she will be serving this next year. McKenzie has experience with and loves serving at her home church’s various children and young adult ministries. McKenzie graduated from high school in 2012, and after completing a year of college as a photography major, felt the Lord calling her to the mission field! Since leaving college McKenzie has participated in 4 short term mission trips to Baja California, Mexico, and has walked through every door the Lord has opened for her. One of these doors was serving with CSM as a City Host in Washington, DC during the summer of 2014. McKenzie is excited to watch God move in her life over the next eleven months and cannot wait for all that is in store. 

In her free time, McKenzie enjoys working on photography, drinking coffee, cooking, adventuring in nature, hula hooping, and digging into scripture.
McKenzie’s email address: mckenzie@csm.org
Join McKenzie’s Prayer Partner or Fundraising team!

Learn more about the CSM Apprenticeship!