Friday, February 26, 2016

City Highlight: Denver

Three miles - thats a fairly significant distance; most would drive rather than walk that far. I think its safe to say that someone three miles away from me is not my neighbor. Neighbors are the nice people that live next door who you wave to when you are both leaving your homes at the same time. They are the people you make small talk with while picking up your mail. If youre lucky, you may have over-achiever neighbors who will bring you cookies every now and again. Your neighbors generally look similar to you, share some of your beliefs, and are in relatively the same place in society.

However, it is clear through the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus has a different definition of neighbor; a true, loving, and Godly definition.  In this story, the neighbor is not the Priest of the Levite, who most likely share similar dress, beliefs, and societal prominence as the injured man. Rather, it’s the Samaritan, a man whose nature and upbringing place him in opposition to the injured man, which ends up being his neighbor. In this, Christ opens up a whole new realm of neighbors. Our neighbors are all of those that we show mercy to and so we can have as many neighbors choose. Neighbors are no longer bound by location, race, and financial status, but by the mercy that flows from us.

The poorest neighborhood in Denver, the Sun Valley, is three miles from our housing site and is where our newest ministry partner Hope in Our City has decided that their neighbors are.  Hope in Our City has sought to be a part of the large refugee community, with the goal of showing them compassion and love. We are so excited about their passion to help their neighbors intangible ways that will not only relieve immediate needs, but help to equip their neighbors in the future:

“Our strategy is to develop the skills of vulnerable individuals in the six specific areas of language, employment, education, life-skills, citizenship and spiritual development. We believe these are the BIG 6 to engagement.  An individual bettering themselves in these 6 areas will lead to a better community, which leads to a stronger city, which leads to a healthier nation and ultimately a world filled with hope today and for all eternity through belief in Jesus" (

I think we can admire Hope in Our Citys approach to being neighbors. Instead of living life and caring for just those we daily encounter, we can expand neighborliness to whoever we choose. We can seek out those that God wants us to have compassion on and realize that there are no boundaries to who we can love except our own capacity and desire to love. We can seek to love as Christ loves us and to allow His love to pour out and to reach those who have no neighbors.

- Josh Frase, CSM Denver Apprentice

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Join CSM in Tijuana!

Tacos and tourists. PiƱatas and pan dulce.

Tijuana, Mexico conjures up many colorful images. The city across the United States border has a unique personality, much thanks to owning the title "Most Visited Border City" in the globe.

The city receives nearly 300,000 daily visitors crossing from the United States. And though many who visit make a quick trip across the border to walk around downtown, do some shopping and grab some authentic Mexican food - not many venture into the heart of the city and experience the true Tijuana.

Recently, CSM connected with some tijuanenses doing some amazing Kingdom-work among the 1.7 million people in their city. Sara and Kevin Neff are the directors of Lily of the Valley Orphanage in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood. They invited us to come visit their home, meet the children that call them "Mama" and "Papa", and to visit the real Tijuana with them.

That first trip opened our eyes to the great needs that exist just across the border from us. Many families and individuals living in the surrounding area experience extreme poverty. The Neffs see the brokenness in the children sent to them on a daily basis. They see it as they partner with the local church and ministries to address major issues like hunger, abuse, homelessness and more.

It was also an extremely encouraging to see local leaders rising up to the call of Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (NIV) They seek to serve Jesus by serving their neighbor - no matter how hard that call is. And that is exactly what CSM is all about. Real partnerships with local leaders serving Christ by serving their neighbors.

We invite you to join us in this great work happening in Tijuana! We will be offering one week of service in Tijuana this summer (July 24-30, 2016).

Would your team be interested in serving with us? Please call 267-928-2620 or email to learn more.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Many People:One Team

Over my last 3 years with CSM, I’ve been able to see how beautiful teams can be. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been a part of one of those teams in some way – and all I can say is thank you! As I settle in to working in a new CSM office in a new city, I’m overwhelmed by how appropriate our many:one theme is in my current season. It takes so many people to make this work. So many teams, so many ministry partners, so many communities who come together to serve this one city. And this pattern repeats itself all over the country in our CSM communities an on a much larger scale, this repeats itself in every community around the world!

When I sit in awe of how God’s children are committing themselves to serving Him by serving their neighbors, I’m overwhelmed by how He loves us and cares for us, but I get frustrated by our divisions, too. Whether it’s language, or an invisible line on the ground that divides our neighborhoods, towns, counties and countries - there are so many barriers to community in our world. I begin to wonder what it would look like if we were able to be in union with all of our neighbors. What if there were no barriers? If we all spoke the same language? If we all shared a culture? I was thinking through this the other day, and my mind wandered to the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.  The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Genesis 11:1-9
Even when I think that the things that make us different set us against each other, God knows better. When we come together, nothing is impossible to us, and that’s dangerous – because we don’t know enough. We don’t have the full picture. We don’t know the whole story. Our differences protect us from harm and encourage us to learn. We can never think that we have the full idea, because there are whole cultures we’ve never met before. There are languages we don’t know, there are places we’ve never been. God keeps us from thinking that we hold all the power and knowledge, so that when we are truly together as one, it will be in eternity – where we have a more full understanding of the power of God.

I pray that as we live in a time and a place where our speech and our language is confused, that we will work humbly through our misunderstandings and with appreciation for our differences. I pray that we’ll share our cultures and receive others with joy. Rejoicing in our differences and appreciating our uniqueness. I pray that we will love well and be a family of many, learning how to live as one.

- Jessica Fothergill, CSM Washington DC City Director