so i’m going to Camden, New Jersey…

and it will inevitably change the way I think, live, and ultimately construct my life. I’d never even heard of the place, really, until a year ago when my friend, Michael Frank, went on this same trip over Christmas break. It broke and crushed him in ways he’s still trying to grasp.

The first thing he told me when coming back was, “Chris, when I was there, I was constantly saying to myself, ‘Chris needs to see this. Chris needs to experience what I’m experiencing.’ ” After looking into it more, I decided he was right, this is where I needed to go. Everything I’ve done over the past three years explicitly points to an opportunity like this, and I’d be terribly foolish not to take it up.

I leave on December 9th for two weeks, living in one of the most impoverished, crime ridden areas of America, all for the sake of hanging out with some kids. I couldn’t ask for better.

However, I need support in going to this area, and have sent out support letters (all of which reference this blog, so hopefully people are reading it for further insight as to why I’m going). Here’s what I wrote if you’re interested:

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to you from the sweet land of rain, Seattle, Washington, after safely surviving the barrage of midterms in the past week. My professors seem to be pulling out all the stops for my senior year, but it was to be expected. I’ve been continuing my studies in Communications and Theology by taking classes pertaining to journalism and reconciliation, all of which I hope to use as an aid in pursuing a job with World Vision next summer when I graduate. In the meantime, I’ve been working at the local Union Gospel Mission, as well as doing public relations work for the school to gain further experience. These aren’t things I’ve merely “achieved,” though. You all have supported me through words and prayer in the past years, and I’d like to thank you for being a very tangible means of grace toward me as I maneuver my way through college.

As the past three years have rolled by, I’ve noticed a very distinct pattern that’s emerged from everything I’ve been doing at Seattle Pacific University. Having participated in Urban Plunge, a program that allows students to spend four days on the street conversing with the homeless, and Youth Reach Out Center, a tutoring program for inner city kids, it seems as if God’s slowly been directing my life toward places despairing from poverty and injustice. Currently, I’ve been working for a year and a half to have our campus host a program called Tent City, which is a homeless community that travels around the greater Seattle area, living in parking lots of businesses and churches. It’s been a hefty endeavor, but has culminated to the president of the university saying “yes” in allowing me to spearhead this hosting project. As a result, I’ve learned more about the politics behind city code and government regulations, and how these policies directly aid and hinder the impoverished. It’s been quite the ride.

In turn, I’ve applied to be a part of a group from SPU that would travel to Camden, New Jersey to work with a Christian school program called Urban Promise. I would be working with both street youth and children in the surrounding area that attend this school by aiding the teachers in class; as well as will be building relationships with the kids outside of the classroom. Aside from doing work directly with these people, I hope to better understand the bigger questions concerning social injustices and structured racism, such as: “What is the relationship between poverty, racism, and government involvement when it comes to the education system?”  Also, “How does one do humanitarian work so that the receiving community may feel empowered and dignified instead of subjects for a short term aid project?” With this, I want to take the knowledge I learn to further understand what God may be calling me towards when graduation dawns, whether domestically or internationally. Working with children has been a continued joy for me over the past years, especially in the realm of those subject to oppression. This opportunity is far beyond what I could ask for, and I’m very excited to be a part of this surreal adventure!

I need your help in doing this, though. First, I would like to entreat you for your prayers. My team and I will be there for two weeks working with multiple people in this dangerous area, so we would appreciate your prayers for effectiveness and safety. I would also ask you to pray for our team to be open to the new things that God has in store for us and to be mindful of what He wants to make apparent during this trip.

Secondly, if you are willing and able, I would ask for your financial support. This trip will cost around $1000 per student. If you feel moved to give, your donation would be tax deductible (see included instructions). Please do not feel obligated to give financially. Just knowing that our team is in your thoughts and prayers is more than enough. Hopefully, we will be able to show Christ’s love in Camden to everyone we encounter. If need be, please feel free to email me at kylec@spu.edu or call me at 208.866.3964 if you have any questions.

I’d love to share my stories with you when I return, and very much plan on posting pictures throughout the trip. You can find both updates of pictures and stores on my blog at: antithesisreigns@wordpress.com. As a team, we will also be sending email updates, which you can sign up for on the enclosed form. I will be back in Boise for a week and a half starting December 23rd, so please give me a call for a more personalized discussion! Again, thank you for your consideration, both now and in the past!

Under the Mercy,

Chris Kyle

I don’t have the “enclosed note” for further information to give you, but I can tell you this: If you’d like to support me, please feel free to give me a call or email me or comment on this blog. It can be through prayer or wanting to get updates as well, which I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO PROVIDE! I just want to tell as many people as I can about my story while over there. Additionally, and if you’re on SPU campus, I am selling Kuma Coffee. It’s only 8 ounces for $10, but it’s a grand and easy deal to strike on. I also hear that what you order will most likely be the Brazilian roast, the beans from which were ranked the top for the year coming from the country. Just sayin…

Whew. All right. I think that’s it. Thanks for reading, those of you who made it thus far, and expect pictures and lovely stories to be written on this page come December.

Oh, and here’s is Urban Promise’s site if you’re interested.

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~ by Chris Kyle on November 4, 2010.

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