Camden: Day 5; Night 6

There is going to be a rebirth. It’s coming.

Jesus Castro, one of the leaders over here who’s only a couple years older than us, articulated this point brilliantly over our early morning devotionals. He was the first to explicitly say that Camden was on the up and up, or, at least, had some hope of survival. It was encouraging that somebody was finally willing to vocalize such words.

I’ve felt like a journalist the past couple days, constantly asking questions of people in the hopes that I can get some answers. I haven’t hit every demographic yet, but tomorrow I hope to ask some of the students of their thoughts on Camden. We are having a donor-student celebration day, and because not all the donors could make it, they are pairing some of the kids up with interns or workgroup people. It’ll be a high schooler and me: one-on-one. It will certainly be great talking to him in a context outside of the classroom as well, and hopefully he’s chill enough to want to converse a bit instead of just stare of mumble at me.

As for another rough segue, today my art teacher was sick; so while I spent the first hour waiting for her to arrive, unaware of her illness, I organized a paper rack. Real fun. Eventually I was told of the situation, and suddenly turned into “Chris Kyle: Errand Boy Extraordinaire!” I became the lackey, once again, and drove around the city delivering goods and picking up packages. However, this quickly turned into a grand experience, because I got to see more of the city, interact with people outside of Urban Promise, and not have to worry about getting paint on the only dress pants I own. Exploration, engagement, and evasion – the triple E’s to a satisfying day.

In the midst of this adventure, I ran into a guy named Cleveland, who was both verbose and willing to listen. We talked for about 45 minutes, and jumped from topic to topic concerning racial reconciliation, Camden’s rise and fall, me growing up in white ol’ Boise, as well as what I’ve been doing here for the last week. In walking away from the conversation, he brought up the point that as a witness to this city, I am responsible for the knowledge of Camden I’ve obtained. I’ve heard lines like this before involving other topics of heaviness, but this was a great reminder for both why I’m here, and what I’m to do when I leave. Going back to the journalistic piece, I suppose the least I can do is tell the story of Camden – both now and later.

Albeit, I want to be careful in saying what I feel this city needs, especially because I’m by far an expert of all the controversial matters that revolve around the topic; however, I feel it’s safe to say that education and relationship are two key points for what it takes to turn around this city. Education for the sake of the next generation (as well as the current one), which can take the form of politics, social services, literacy, business, spirituality, etc., is a necessity of reforming all that has currently been lost. I’m not sure what the exact statistic is, but the literacy rate of this city is at a disgustingly low percentage. It should also be noted that there isn’t a library within this whole city of 75,000 people.

As for relationships, the simple act of being present in a community and wanting to intentionally invest are two of the biggest factors. I mean, what were two things that Jesus did, as told throughout each of the gospels? He taught and formed relationships with people. He taught so that people may understand truth, and he spoke so that people felt known, loved, and valued. The depravity of this city is more than just money – it’s of everything you and I have that is usually taken for granted.

Specifics on what this actually means are later to come. Don’t worry.

OH!

Closing note: I nearly prayed myself to tears this morning realizing how wonderful my friends have been in supporting me on this trip through affirmative words. I couldn’t feel more blessed and confident that every minute in this city is drenched with genuine prayer. Sarah, Aly, Noah, Michael, Michael, Kali, Cam, Steph, Josh, Charis, Brittany, Rob, James, Aaron, Dave, Emily, Jenn, Shannon, Erin, Brian, Brenna, Natalie, Kristin, Mom, Dad. I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody, and please forgive me if I did, but know that I’ve received your prayers and feel them working daily. God is so so good.

All is done by His grace alone. Amen.

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~ by Chris Kyle on December 14, 2010.

4 Responses to “Camden: Day 5; Night 6”

  1. you are SO smart and compassionate and articulate here.

    and just in general.

    love.

  2. Gosh Chris, It seems you are learning about SO much, and being challenged in unique ways. I applaud you in your ability to so calmly process it all via this blog, because I know I probably wouldn’t be able to do that. ha. Sounds like it was an amazing day!!

  3. I feel like I’m with you – with the blogs and the videos. Is there an address we can send you a care box of cookies? (Mom’s do cookies — it’s just what we do!) Love you so much and prayers continuing for your safety and growth.

  4. Chris! It’s so good to get caught up on what you all are doing and seeing and learning in Camden. Sadly I’ve already come and gone in my short stint as your neighbor on the eastcoast and I’m back in Texas now. You all are in my prayers so often!

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