Organizing Center St. in Costa Mesa CA
This is the vision statement of the Christian Reformed Church: The Christian Reformed Church is a diverse family of healthy congregations, assemblies, and ministries expressing the good news of God’s kingdom that transforms lives and communities worldwide.
What is this transforming lives and communities about?
Here is a picture for you:
Imagine a dense, low income (all of it) neighborhood in which:
- Unemployment is high
- There is high crime
- Many neighbors are illegal immigrants
- Schools struggle; most students drop out
- There is fear – rampant fear, debilitating fear
- Neighbors don’t know each other
- Kids don’t play outside without a parent attending them
You get the picture.
This is a snapshot of Center Street in Costa Mesa
Add one CRWRC half-time AmeriCorps volunteer. After completing a two day asset based community development program Juval started hanging out in this neighborhood getting to know the kids. He focused first on the skate boarders (a common passion). Then he started interviewing parents. He wanted to find out their priorities for life in the neighborhood. He quickly formed a parent advisory committee and gave them responsibility to name the changes they wanted to work on in their community.
He supported them as they began English classes, Health Classes, Legal Aid, Exercise groups, Housing Forums on fair housing practices. Economic Development and Savings Plans. Plans are in the works for Neighborhood watch groups, Neighbor/Police joint ventures, and much more.
AmeriCorps service is changing the community, indigenous leaders are developing, neighbors are working together doing what they can with what they have to make life better for the common good. Bible studies are taking place, more people have a church home, and life is more peaceful – Shalom!
Juval has also changed. From a fearful and hesitant young man, he has become a servant leader. He loves the neighborhood and the people. He has signed up for a second year of service – this time full time – and then he has big plans for continuing his education.