Tag Archives: Urban Promise Toronto

Urban Promise – Camden, New Jersey

Urban Promise Toronto isn’t the only Urban Promise. In fact it’s not even the first. The first started in Camden New Jersey in 1988. So it’s a year older than I am.

As second year interns at UPT you get the opportunity to spend a week in the city of Camden working with the Urban Promise there. I returned from said trip last night.

Please forgive me if my thoughts are a bit… Fluttery. Going on a missions trip near the end of your two year mission trip has proven to be rather tiring. I was stressed for awhile wishing so much that I could bring the kind of energy to Camden that I’ve so often appreciated from Mission Teams here, “But how can I bring them energy when I’m just as drained as they are?” My director encouraged me to just abide in Christ, and basically to just chill.

Due to the fluttery nature of my thoughts I’m going to try to glue down the things I saw and heard that hit me the most this week in a somewhat disorderly fashion in hopes that they still make sense to you:

I spent time in after school program with middle schoolers at Camp Grace in North Camden.

Before leaving I typed “Camden New Jersey” into Google, looking for the weather. Their first two suggestions were ‘camden new jersey crime’ and ‘camden new jersey ghetto’. Weather was the tenth suggestion. When typing in Toronto the first two options are our newspapers. Weather is the third directly followed by ‘public library’.

Camden is a poor city. Often rated the poorest in America.

There were so many abandoned buildings, just boarded up and left to rot. I’d never thought of how expensive it is for a city to tear down it’s dying buildings, until I saw a city cluttered with them.

We sat down and talked to some of the UP staff who are youth from the area. They told us about how being from a Camden High School makes it harder to get into College. How their teachers often seem to just give up on trying to teach them. How at one of their schools if you’re caught cutting class you’re handcuffed and brought back to class by the police patrolling the halls. (So many kids from my high school cut class and didn’t even get caught for it…)

There was a man there who had grown up in Camden and was given the opportunity to go to college and had now returned to give back to his community. When contrasting his high school stories with those of the current students we could see how much the city is really improving.

When this man was in High School his principal stood in front of them and asked those with the hopes of going to college to raise their hands. She looked at those with raised hands and told them to do themselves a favour and: get jobs.

He says he sees now that she was being realistic. He and his brother (who works for Urban Promise Camden) were given the opportunity to go to College by a Christian man who owned the school.

Some people call it a hand out,” he said, “I call it a lifeline. So I grabbed a hold of it.”

When we got to Camden I stood in awe looking at all the buildings with the words “Urban Promise” on them. Our Urban Promise has no buildings. We have an office out in the middle of somewhere and we have our meetings and run our programs out of amazing Toronto churches that allow us to do so. They even have a grade school, and a small high school! It’s pretty different from UPT. Not better or worse, but different.

We saw a lot of injustice in Camden New Jersey.

We also met many people of God who have been called both to and from Camden to show their city how the Grace of our God will allow His Justice to flow in and throughout it.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream. -Amos 5:24

Urban Promise – Building a city of promise…one child at a time. ]

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My God is Always True.

MyKidsEditMy main role for the Celebration on Friday was to get my kids to there as soon as possible. They were doing a performance they’d done once before in the summer. Joining my past intern partner Spencer in a song he had written. I went in the afternoon with my room mates to find out how to get to People’s Church then left to head downtown and grab my kids after they were finished school.

The coordinator, Peter, had told me that I should try to get the kids there by five so that we could fit a quick practice in for them during the walk through. It seemed pretty impossible, the little boy that was coming wouldn’t be home until 4:05 and it took at least an hour to get there. So my prayer of the day was, “Jesus get us there by five.”

I had three children coming each from a different school. My plan was to meet up with whoever it was who would end up picking up kids with me at the first little girls house where her bus would drop her off a bit before 3:30. A little vampire jumped off the bus in full make up and informed me that she would be out as soon as she showered. One of the street leaders from our youth program showed up right on time, he’s a great young man, it was really cool to spend some time with him that day. We waited around for awhile then thought about running to get the other kids and then coming back. Turns out that wouldn’t have worked out at all… But luckily she ran out, ‘all clean’ (as Ronnie would say) just in time to stop us from making a poor decision.

Next we ran over to the school where the second little girl was waiting. This was a quick stop, she handed her bag to her brother and we were on our way.

(Remember when I went into my little rant about my 3 minute long pirate game at the park with one of my boys? Well a few days before Halloween he told me that he was going to be a pirate so that the next time we played pirates at the park we could dress up. I informed him that all of my pirate gear was at home but I’d get it at Christmas and then we might play pirates at the park in the fall. Right, so I saw the little pirate leaving his school in full costume that day. :))

So now we were ready to pick up that little boy with the 4:05 bus. It turned out to be more of a 4:20 bus… And there was a missing big brother. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up from his bus. Luckily the bus driver let me have him, we dropped his bag and art projects of at his friend, The Little Artist’s house and we went on our way.

I always prefer to take a Spadina streetcar, but we were pretty far from Spadina and children just walk so slow… So we decided on Bathurst street. I told the kids we needed to pray that we got a streetcar real fast… We had to run for it… But it was there just on time. We thanked Jesus.

It was a mighty long way to get to the church from downtown. Luckily the kids survived… Without too much complaining. It was past 5:00 but I told God that I knew He was big and I just wasn’t going to change my prayer.

When we got to the church we stopped off for a washroom break and then walked into the dark sanctuary. To my surprise (it being 5:30 by this time) the declaration that we were ‘just on time’ was made as we entered the room. But why was I surprised? I’d been asking God to get us there on time, of course we were on time, it just so happened that my guess of 5:00 was the wrong time.

Now, I was to help out back stage for the whole evening so I went back there and watched my kids being led onto the stage for their practice. I thought perhaps I should be waiting back there like I thought I’d be doing for their performance… But I just couldn’t help myself. I walked out to see them getting situated on the stage.

The three looked awfully nervous.

The song started.

Spencer started to sing.

The children stood there in a daze. Half giggly, half terrified. No words coming from their mouths.

Peter stopped the song and started to talk to the kids. I held myself back from running over. He seemed to be doing well, they were smiling and nodding.

So they started again. This time they sang the song through, rather quietly but they did it.

Finally I burst out to whoever it was I was sitting beside that I just wanted to be there. (They’ve never done it without me sitting in front leading them along .) They told me to go. So I asked Peter if I could just be there in front while they performed. I knelt in front of the stage and we ran through the chorus one more time. Can I just say, my kids are AMAZING little singers!?

The Celebration night was amazing. I got to hang out with children all night. I saw some amazing performances. Spencer did an amazing job at his song and although my kids continued to look nervous, they sang their little hearts out.

(If I can find some sort of recording of the song I’ll show it to you. I feel like there is one as I heard Spencer and the children singing after the Camp Freedom community night although neither Spencer or the Peace Kids were there. If not I’ll ask Spencer if I can post the lyrics, he’s an amazing song writer.)

After the program there was a big party going on in the other room. It was decorated beautifully. The kids were so excited. Three of our volunteers who worked all summer were there and we had a great time hanging out with them.

In the centre of the room there was a tree. On the tree were leaves from each camp, and the people at the Celebration night. The leaves were sharing all of our ideas of what makes a “Community of Promise”. At the end of the night I had to drag my kids away from putting leaf after leaf onto the tree so that we could make our way home.

tree

I saw pictures of the tree on facebook and I could pick out which leaves my kids had been doing:

Tree

mykidsleaves

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*photocred to: Sarah Masson

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Jane and Finch living.

I’m back in Toronto.

JaneandFinch

Just about to jump into my second year internship. My room mate Erin Pipes and I have been cleaning like madwomen getting ready for our new room mate who will start her first year tomorrow. Well, for the last little while Pipes has been cleaning and I’ve been setting up a blog.

You may  have heard about the war constantly going on in the Jane and Finch apartment.  Interns vs. Cockroaches. Those bugs are awful, if you’ve never had to live with them you can’t possibly understand, but be thankful.

I’m debating how much to tell you about the little guys… I don’t want to send you running… but I don’t think you’re feeling my pain!

The first few hours after arriving at my apartment were spent sweeping. See when I’m gone and there’s no one for them to steal food from rather than leaving like good little roaches, they sit there, and they die. So I was sweeping, sweeping up dead cockroaches. I swept all of the ones I could find on the floors. Then I emptied out cupboards and swept dead cockroaches out of cupboards. (Killing live ones along the way.) I still have to do the drawers… I hate doing the drawers.

I could go on… but I think you’re getting the picture, maybe feeling a bit of the pain.

I have a feeling that God’s got a plan giving us these little pests… but I’ve yet to find it! Maybe He has lessons for us on spiritual warfare that we will realize while fighting off roaches with our Windex bottles and paper towels.

Urban Promise internship officially starts tomorrow.

I’d like to ask you to pray for this years intern group. There are five interns returning from last year, and I believe six starting off fresh. Pray that we’ll be able to work together and bless each other! Erin and I have one new room mate coming… we’re very excited to meet her. We’re also a bit bummed as our last room mate has returned to Germany (Oh how I love my Dorothia) – this will be a big adjustment so please pray that God will help things go smoothly!

I’ll leave you with a verse that Pipes pointed out to me today:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. -Ephesians 6:18

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