Reflections on building an intercultural relationship

Urban Promise at Souderton
A team of interns from Urban Promise leads singing at Souderton congregation. Photo by Emily Ralph.

As a church seeking to connect with the mission of God in the world, it has been exciting to connect with the ministry of Urban Promise in Camden, NJ. Initially, several of our college students served as summer interns and Bruce Main and some of their interns came to a worship service on a Sunday morning. But this past year, the Senior High youth group did a week of service in Camden and for many of the youth it was life changing. Relationships were established. They connected with what God was doing in the city and the invitation was given to come to Souderton for an exchange visit. Seeing this come together on January 20th was encouraging and confirmed the truth that mission in the Kingdom of God is more about building relationships than it is about programs.

–Pastor Gerry Clemmer, Souderton congregation

Urban Promise--Carlee Moyer
Carlee Moyer (left), a senior in Souderton congregation’s youth group, participated in a summer school camp. What she saw and experienced led her to consider teaching in the inner city someday.

I didn’t know what to expect walking through the doors into camp that first day—it was a huge eye opener. As Caucasian teens, we went from being the majority back at home in Souderton to being the minority in Camden!  This gave me a sense of how other people view the world; I experienced what it feels like to not fit in. Each morning we had devotions and the main topic that they kept coming back to was about judging other people.  In Camden, I tried to remember that I have no idea what these kids are going through and they know nothing about me either. If you have an open heart to everyone, you will not only see happiness in others, but happiness in yourself also.

Coming back home and starting my junior year in high school, something had changed.  I tried to take a broader look at myself as a person. I have become more aware of how I treat people and think about how God would want me to treat others. Even though the children that were in the camps were young, they still taught me something that will stay with me forever.   Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the people that made a huge impact on my life.

–Jillian Moyer, junior

Urban Promise
An Urban Promise day camp. Photo by Carlee Moyer.

Wow! Where do I even begin to talk about the experience our youth group had at Urban Promise?  One of the things that fascinated me most was Urban Promise’s “street leader” program. This program is for the older children (9th-12th grade) who have gone to the camps before, but are too old to be a “camper”. They help run the camp and facilitate activities. It was great to see how these kids worked their way up through the program and are now given responsibility. As a teacher, I notice that kids rise to higher levels of maturity when they are given a responsibility, especially when that responsibility is to take care of younger children.

I know many of our youth want to go back and visit our friends from Urban Promise and some have showed interest in working there for a summer. What an amazing and life changing experience it was for our entire group!  Urban Promise is truly ushering in God’s Kingdom in a very real way.

–Elyse Hackman, youth leader