April 6th 2009
What an awesome experience! Several members of our group had participated in ministries similar to UrbanPromise, but everyone felt that UP had something special. Our time spent at Urban taught all of us a great deal more than what we were expecting. The extreme poverty that has smothered Camden cannot be understood without spending time in Camden. There has to be a change, and Urban is changing the city little by little, and it was wonderful to be a part of that.
We spent most of our time in the Camden Forward School, and it couldn’t have been any better. Working with the teachers and students there was such a blessing to us. Hands down, lunch, recess, and gym were our favorite subjects. I hope that we were able to encourage the teachers as much as they encouraged us. They are living out their faith at UP and putting God’s work first in their lives. As college students, it can be difficult to allow God to guide our lives when we feel so focused on the degrees that we are working toward. If Urban brings God’s love into a city that needs it so much, shouldn’t we be able to find ways to reach out to our campus that greatly needs God too.
The staff that organized all the WorkGroups was far better than we could hope for. We were immediately welcomed when we arrived at Urban, and given a quick introduction to where we would be staying (the Trekker House). Each morning we had devotions with all SIX groups that were at Urban that week. On Tuesday Jim Cummings gave us a more than excellent tour of Camden. This was not your typical tour, we all learned so much, and it broke our hearts to see some of the sights and learn about the history of Camden. We were also treated to a Caribbean beach party, which was the perfect mid-week booster. The food was excellent, especially because several in our group got to help make the shish kabobs. On another night, we had the opportunity to meet the Poet of Poverty, Father Michael Doyle. We watched a movie of his, and dove deeper into the injustices that have befallen Camden. Obviously we were treated very well, and whenever we needed something (whether direction or directions), we were well taken care of.
To sum it all up, we met amazing people at Urban, learned and saw things that will be life changing, and hopefully gave UP back at least half of what we came away with.
University of New England