Blog: 31 March 2009

Tuesday, March 31

This trip to UrbanPromise occurred at the perfect time in my life. Lately I had felt like I was walking away from God, without really realizing it. I was on a mission to mature. I had started reading the New York Times every day, cleaning my room and making my bed, and actually reading books outside of class! I guess I was trying to feel accomplished and maybe just like an adult. I noticed however that I never truly felt satisfied, like there was always another step. I was looking for that missing link, and this Spring Break venture to UrbanPromise so clearly showed me the absent piece of the puzzle. I was trying to cross a street to adulthood, but I went without taking God’s hand and looking both ways. In my yearning to act like an adult, I forgot that I was still a child of God’s; a child who must take the hand of his father, and be led through the busy, congested and dangerous road of life.

This week, UrbanPromise put God on the forefront of my mind, where he should have been all along. Different members of the staff gave daily devotionals, speaking about their work and their relationship with God. Multiple times a day we prayed over our food, our work, and the people of Camden, New Jersey.  Special events like a tour of the city, a film screening about local Father Michael Doyle, and a dinner and panel discussion with UrbanPromise staff clearly depicted God’s role and presence in the lives of so many hard-working, influential and admirable citizens of Camden.

Throughout the week at Urban I was able to truly see the importance of what this ministry is accomplishing. Camden is a city of immense economic poverty, but what really threatens its future is the rampant mental, emotional and intellectual poverty. This organization works tirelessly to combat the doubts and negativity that consume this loving community of Camden. When kids doubt themselves and their future, many see selling drugs as their only way to financial stability. When parents doubt their children, childhood dreams are dashed. With UrbanPromise this week, my classmates and I contributed our time and energy just to provide some encouragement and to breathe life into the dreams children had been brave enough to dream.

As a result of this week, I do feel that my life has been transformed. On Thursday night, three UrbanPromise staff members came to the church where we were staying to have dinner with us. During desert, they each took turns sharing their testimonies with us along with the stories of how God led them to UrbanPromise. They all spoke with a heart and a certainty that only God provides. Their constant faith was evident and unwavering. This week I saw God brighten lives through my hands and the words and hands of those around me. For the first time in my life, I unquestionably saw God at work, and I am encouraged to continue in ministry as I grow in my faith. I am determined to be sitting at a table like Elise, Matt and Eric did last Thursday night, telling fellow children of the Lord of my testimony, and how UrbanPromise and the city of Camden finally inspired me to know God.

In closing, I reference a passage from Psalms 67. This is a passage that we read as a work group one night after dinner. It reads:

May the peoples praise you, O God; 
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us, 
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

I pray for a day when all the people of Camden praise God, and when God himself is the city’s greatest fear. I pray for that day, and I pray that I can use my talents, my time, and my energy to do my part in bringing that day to Camden.

Thank you UrbanPromise for a week that brought 9 students from Colby College closer to God and for a week that I truly believe has changed my life. 

Austin Sutherland
Colby College Student 

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