Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Catch Your Vision, Dare to Dream

Today's post comes from Regina over at Simplify To Freedom. Thank you for serving with us and sharing your reflection!

Last week, I had the privilege to chaperone and serve with the high school youth group from my church on their mission trip to Nashville, TN.  We were connected with an organization called Center for Student Missions.  They scheduled a week of opportunities for us to learn about how God is moving in the city of Nashville; serve different ministries; learn about the needs and good things in the city; and grow closer in our own relationship with God through serving others and learning their stories.  It was an amazing week for all of us.
The anchor organization for my group of students was Family Affairs Ministries (FAM). We served ½ of each day in their Summer Youth Enrichment Camp.  They serve up to 125 students, ages 4-16 in grades pre-K through 12th grade for 4 weeks.
Many churches across the country provide a weeklong Vacation Bible School to their communities.  They teach children about God through music, art, and fun games. Typically, the VBS are ½ day activities and the curriculum is purchased through organizations that specialize in creating material for VBS.  Across our nation, many kids are learning the same songs and lessons through these structured programs and they are giving their lives to Christ.
This camp was different.  This camp was about meeting the needs of these children on many different levels.  First, the camp was 4 full days a week for 4 weeks.  This requires a lot of volunteers.  Second, the camp provided for the children’s’ basic physical needs.  A hot breakfast and cereal plus a hot, complete lunch were provided to nourish their young bodies.  Rules and expectations were reviewed each morning to provide them structure and both physical and emotional safety.  The Gospel was taught and reinforced through games, stories, and skits each morning to feed them spiritually.  Then, the rest of the day was spent working on their skills to help feed them intellectually and to prepare them for school in the fall.  It was a holistic approach that really showed these children how much they are loved.
There was no doubt that God was moving in this ministry.  You could see it in the faces of the Pastor, the staff, the interns, the children and the volunteers.  You could hear it in their songs of praise.  Time was taken to learn each child’s story and their needs to help them prepare.  We spent time singing, correcting, playing games to help with reading, shapes, math, golf, motor skills, etc.  
What caught me off guard was how the theme aligned with my sabbatical, “Catch Your Vision, Dare to Dream”.  They didn’t have a fancy package purchased by an outside vendor.  They had a theme for the camp, Bible verses and the imagination of the staff and interns to guide them.  In a big way, I felt like this was a reassurance for me.  I don’t have a big plan for my sabbatical.  I have some ideas, am open to input, and am trying to explore my gifts and talents to see where they might best fit to serve and to eventually resume a career that provides an income.  I am spending time in God’s word, reading books that expand my vision of the world and volunteering where I can be of service.  I am a little backwards, though.  I am daring to dream and praying to catch the vision for my life in the process of being open and daring.
The focus for week 3 was the word “Dare”.  The corresponding verse is Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Our main goal as Christians is obedience to God so that we can become more Christ like.  Each day of my sabbatical, I have an opportunity to really think about how I am pressing towards that goal.  Are my thoughts, words, and deeds honoring to God? Am I loving God above everything else?  Am I loving my neighbor as myself?  If I measure each of my choices against those three questions, I can know if I am pressing toward the goal that I am called.
I believe God has a plan for each of our lives.  I also believe that he reveals to us only the parts of his plan that we are able to handle at this point of our journey.  If God had revealed to me 2 years ago that I would quit my job to take time off to catch his vision for my life, I would have been overwhelmed and too focused on freaking out about having no income in 2 years rather than focusing on the spiritual and emotional healing that I needed at that time.   I am so grateful to him for spoon feeding me His plan rather than showing me the whole thing at once.  I am afraid that it might paralyze me to find out what daring thing He might ask of me next!
As I continue to reflect on the opportunities for spiritual growth I was privileged with last week, I thank God for Pastor Glenda, her vision for Nashville and FAM.  I pray that He continues to provide them with their spiritual, physical and financial needs so that they may continue to lift hearts to God and to raise their community out of poverty through practical, Biblical love.  I pray that the youth from our church were inspired to catch their vision through FAM’s stellar example.   I pray that I can catch my vision as I dare to dream during this time off.
Have you caught your vision?  Are you daring to dream?  If not, what holds you back?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rising Church Serves DC!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Planting Seeds

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Margaret-Leigh! We LOVE seeing God using His people to serve the often-forgotten amongst us. Have a story you want to share? Email us!

Approximately 1999, I led a group of teens from Raytown Christian Church on a CSM trip to Houston, TX. We had many wonderful experiences, but perhaps the most memorable was meeting a couple who started a sandwich ministry after the husband saw neighborhood kids digging through trash looking for lunch.

We went back to Raytown and started a food pantry. At first, it was hard for our church to realize that there were people who needed food, right here in Raytown. But soon we were serving some members from our church, members of our community, and a homeless teen who secretly lived in the church's recycled newspaper shed. 

I am no longer at Raytown, but I've learned that, in 2008, Raytown Christian Church started a sandwich & lunch ministry of their own. In 2009, 4 other churches joined the efforts. And now, over 400 children are being served lunch, each day for 6 weeks in the summer. 

I believe the seeds for this ministry in Raytown, Missouri, were planted in Houston by CSM, long before our church realized there was a huge need right "here" at home. 

- Margaret-Leigh Guthrie, CSM Group Leader from KS

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Friday, May 03, 2013

Soul Development

CSM is celebrating 25 years of ministry this year. 

In a way, I had my own celebration this spring when I had the privilege of hosting a college group from Black Forest, Colorado. What made it special was that one of the group's leaders was a good friend of mine from high school. It was so much fun to see her and to catch up on life. 

She and I were part of team from our youth group who went on a mission trip to Chicago with CSM in 1993. Her visit brought back so many great memories. That CSM trip was my first taste of urban missions and it was where God gave me a heart for the city.  I know that, at that point in my life, I didn't fully understand God's love for the poor, or even what social justice meant, but my heart was changed and I knew I had to be part of what He was doing in the city.  

It still amazes me sometimes how I am serving with the same organization that was such a big part of my early soul development. Now each year, I get to be part of that heart change in others with the students who come to Denver. Sometimes I can even see my little teenage-self in their eyes and I get excited for what the Lord has in store for them.  

I believe that CSM is a place for soul development.  My desire is to give students an opportunity to learn what Jesus meant when he said "whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me." 

My prayer is that a week in Denver allows students a place for deep heart change, where they can't help but be moved to live life differently. I love my job.  Even though I am still learning more each year about how God has called me to love the city as he does, I am so grateful that CSM is still a part of that for me. 

- Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how you can partner with Keysha (through prayer or financiallyas she serves with CSM in Denver!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Seeing San Francisco Through God's Eyes

"Over the summer I had the pleasure of being a part of a San Francisco mission trip. This was my third mission trip, but first with CSM. My life was forever changed on this trip. I was blessed with an amazing leader named, Keith, who became a friend. My group worked throughout San Francisco, mainly with the homeless population in the Tenderloin. Any hesitation I had completely left my thoughts as soon as we got there because I could feel God's presence with us. CSM made me feel so welcomed and safe and I know that God has great plans for the program. I truly cannot thank you enough for all your work. So often people get caught up in our own world that we don't see out of God's eyes. However, after one trip I have been given new vision and it has been amazing. Thank you again for all you do and I definitely plan on working with CSM again in the future."

- Sydney, CSM trip participant

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in the San Francisco Bay Area!