“Amidst all of the brokenness, people hope for relationship.”
“In the grit of the Downtown East Side of Vancovuer, you can still see the significance of a pure heart towards God.”
– Student testimonials after experiencing UMD
(* To protect the identity of the individuals mentioned below, names have been changed.)
CBC’s Urban Mission Dynamic (UMD) encourages each first-year student to explore what it means to follow Jesus in uncomfortable areas of the Kingdom of God. It exposes personal biases, fears and assumptions. It challenges them to rethink the work that God is doing in broken places and in people who are hurting. Student teams serve alongside long term organizations who are committed to see Jesus’ kingdom come, and to love the people who the world deems outcasts.
“I loved meeting new people this weekend and allowing God to show me the work He is already doing through reconciliation and friendships,” states Taylor* who had the opportunity to meet with a DTES resident while serving with Mission Possible (mission-possible.ca) and found her again later in the local park. These conversations opened Taylor’s heart to hear hard stories balanced with the hope Mission Possible residents gain as they seek employment within a supportive environment.
“I’m thankful we partner with organizations who already have a long term relationship with residents,” Jayden* reflects. One of our groups spent time in a low income housing community developed by More than a Roof (morethanaroof.org) and met some of the kids living there. Students had the opportunity to play basketball and learn about what school, friends and family life are like. Kendrick* shared that his father had abandoned him and he only got to see him about once a year. The challenges faced by young kids like Kendrick are complex, long-term and painful. Students learned first-hand of the need for Christ’s tangible love amidst the brokenness.
To live out that love over the long-term, inner-city churches are a key part of the urban puzzle. They have a unique opportunity to impact the surrounding community and they need many hands to make it happen. Students often write in their post-trip reflection papers about the impact of the local churches they’ve encountered as they try to discern their own future church involvement. Cadence writes: “This weekend impacted my view of the urban churches we visited. I was impressed to see them contributing locally and not solely overseas.”
The ultimate goal of UMD is that all students would humbly recognize their role within the Kingdom of God, and become aware of the work God is doing in the DTES. For many students, the impact of this weekend becomes personal: “I never realized how broken middle and upper class people can be until I heard the stories of the homeless and found myself relating,” McKenna shared during a debrief session. UMD allows students to explore brokenness within themselves, their friends and family in new ways. Greed, selfishness and loneliness can plague anyone at any time.
As barriers are broken down, God’s love has room to take root and flourish and the realization hits home: We are all equal at the foot of the cross (Acts 10:34). God’s redeeming love is for all.
You’ll find part one of this piece here on our blog.
Written by Kate Reid, Intercultural Studies Associate