Beach day, the best day

Hi this is Emery,

Saturday the UP-LA went to the beach at Playa Del Rey. But we didn’t just go to the beach to play (though we did plenty of that), we went to the beach with lots of the kids from the ministry sites students have been working with the last two weeks. All of the kids were hanging out with all of the students. It was so nice when I saw everyone smiling with joy on their faces. Something that made me laugh was when a lot of the kids were playing in the waves with the students in the water. The water was so cold, but it didn’t bother the kids as long as they were having fun. There was a lot of that happening – playing frisbee, jumping in the waves, building sand castles, kids burying students, and even looking for shells. For lunch we had hot dogs, chips, and fruit punch or water. All the kids were eager to get back in the water, so once lunch was over and waited a few minutes later we were back in the waves. That was an amazing Beach Day!!! When beach day was over we all got in the vans and took the kids back to the sites. It was amazing seeing how much fun was had by the kids and the number of new friendships the students have made even with kids from other ministry sites. Anyway Beach Day filled my heart. It was the best day!!!!

Emery Nathaniel

Bryan Station Middle School

Lexington, KY

Sports clinic at nickerson gardens

The Urban Project – Los Angeles (UP-LA) is a life changing experience. I have seen God orchestrating events, conversations, and more since the first day. He is definitely in this place. I am currently serving as a site captain for Nickerson Gardens. This is arguably one of the most challenging sites, but I am loving it. The people there are teaching me so much. I am getting to experience people for who they are and not from what prior stereotypes may have already defined them to be. God is showing Himself so powerfully!

The Nickerson Gardens sports clinic that the UP-LA conducts annually went really well despite the lack of opportunity to properly advertise it. We had basketball, football, kickball, face painting, dance stations, and food for the entire community. We received several positive comments on the power of our presence in their community. It was all God. He loves His people so much. As I go to Nickerson Gardens each day during the week, I am blessed with the opportunity to meet, serve, and commune with different people. I depend entirely on God to show me who to approach and what activities to have available for the kids. There is something special about each visit.

A verse that I have reminded myself of and confessed inwardly and outwardly to my team is 2 Timothy 1:7 which reads, “For God has given us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” With that we obey God with confidence knowing that He is our protector and in control of all things. We trust His wisdom and His voice. I am truly enjoying spreading love to the Nickerson community.

Arielle Miree
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Scavenger hunt and up La day one!

It’s day one at UP-LA 2019 and we have a total of 28 people in the frat house on sorority row at USC. This is the 19th year of UP-LA and God will continue to move in this household. We started off the day going to church at Central City Community Church of the Nazarene. Central City is located in the nation’s largest community of homeless people; a place called “Skid Row.” Despite much of the congregation being comprised of members of the local community, their worship was amazing, and you could just feel the joy that the musicians have and their love for the Lord. Then Pastor Tony Stallworth spoke about thankfulness; and it was amazing to see the congregation be so thankful, despite many of their current circumstances. They were thankful for waking up today and having a Father in heaven who loves them. We sang a song called “break every chain.” This is a popular christian song, but singing with brothers and sisters in Christ who find themselves in unbelievably difficult situations on Skid Row gave it a whole new meaning. Congregants were singing at the top of their lungs praising Jesus and giving it all to Him. This church is a safe haven in the Skid Row community that welcomes all with open arms. It resembles Jesus in so many ways.

The rest of the afternoon we split into teams for a scavenger hunt across Los Angeles. We split into three teams, with the team that got to the most sites and could prove it by snapping a selfie winning the competition. The places that people could go to were the Santa Monica Pier, Little Tokyo, Roscoe’s, Randys Donuts, and African American History Museum, the LA Coliseum, as well as other, slightly more obscure stops. It was a fun time to explore LA and to bond with people we will be living with for the next three weeks!

I am so excited to see what will happen in the lives of everyone at Urban Project. It is only day one and relationships are being built and friendships are molding! Please being praying for all of us that God will open our hearts, minds, and eyes to this world as we are relocating in LA for the month.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Kacie Lein - Colorado State University

Reconciliation week 2

The Urban Project – Los Angeles has pushed me outside my comfort zone and challenged me intellectually and spiritually in ways I wasn’t expecting to endure this summer.

It’s our second week here, and each day has been packed full of films, discussions, incredible speakers, and activities centered around Dr. Perkins’ second R, Reconciliation. As we talk about Reconciliation, we have continued dialoguing about race, culture, wealth, and due to America’s history of oppression, the unjust advantages that whites have over minorities. Before coming to UP-LA, I had never witnessed my privilege as a white woman firsthand, but only saw the unjust acts occurring on the news and in my school until I saw it with my own eyes here in LA. It was never a reality for me until the moment I arrived at this Project. Never before this trip had I walked around an area like Skid Row, (or even heard about Skid Row), to see tents lined up on sidewalks, and people sleeping on the side of the road and on benches during the daytime because it’s too dangerous to sleep at night. Never before had I realized the impact that my ignorance had on the world. And, never before had my eyes opened to how my privilege gave me the ability to turn a blind eye to things I didn’t want to see.

This morning before we dispatched to our different ministry sites for the day we did a privilege walk activity called Starting Line. This is a way for people to recognize how power and privileges can affect our lives, even when we don’t even know that it’s happening. By the end of the exercise there were feelings of discomfort that settled with me. There was a big gap between those that made it all the way to the end of the parking lot and those that didn’t take many steps at all. I wrestled with what I can personally do to help those who aren’t on the same line as me. I realize that I will never fully understand what it is like to be underprivileged, but I do know that by living out God’s word and by moving toward those who are in need, while also not expecting people to meet me halfway, I can contribute by moving alongside my other brother and sisters in Christ. Because, no matter where somebody is in life, at the end of the day we are all loved by the same God, Jesus Christ, who loves us for who we are and not what we have.

“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope at your calling – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NASB)

Eleanor Winants - Wake Forest University

Principles for sport and life

Wow! The Urban Project – Los Angeles (UP-LA) has been nothing short of a blessing. From the love you are greeted with when you first touch down to the house, to the love felt during the multiple, heart-touching prayers everyday; this group of strangers has quickly became a close group of friends – all because of the common factor: our love for God. I think being around community where everyone you 24/7 is on a mission to grow in their relationship with God is a powerful, powerful feeling that it is hard to explain.

The five AIA Principles of Competition of we learned during UP-LA week one are: Audience of One (Ao1): Who or what do I worship? (Knowing that God is our most important audience) Inside game: What motivates me? (Knowing the truth of what God says about you rather than the world’s view), Holy Sweat/Wholly Surrender: How do I grow? (Using God and all He has done for us as your power source/motivation), Hurtin’ for Certain: How do I deal with suffering? (Knowing that nothing in the world is not filtered through God’s loving hands for our greater good; Romans 8:28), and Victory Beyond Competition: How do I live for God’s kingdom instead of my kingdom?

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that these principles apply to competition and sports, but ultimately can be applied in our everyday lives. Sports is not the main purpose of our life, but it is a part of many purposes of our lives.

Bright and ugly Friday at 4:30am, we had a short, but intense boot camp-type workout at Playa Del Rey on the shore of the Pacific. The workout was a small way to help us incorporate and apply the Principles we learned in a setting that was physically demanding.

One of the concepts we were taught is that “Down time is His time.” In a volleyball sense (my sport), this simply means taking advantage of the natural breaks during games to re-focus and keep my motivation and intensity at a constant. This morning my “Rest in Him” time was while I was encouraging my teammates during relays as well as in between them. I repeated Romans 8:31, which says, “So what should we say about this? If God is for us, no one can stand against us. And He is with us.” The truth in this verse really came out to me this morning. How blessed, humbled, refreshing, affirming it is to know that I have been chosen to be part of His Kingdom and to live a new life full of sufferings that in the end become beautiful…it is hard to put in words. It really hit home that there are many, many people out here that are struggling with things, people, mental limitations, physical limitations, situations, downfalls in life that are constantly trying to stop us and make us feel inferior to our passions. The only difference between me and them is that I have been chosen to know that I have a greater good. I know the truth that our loving, forgiving, patient, understanding, all-knowing God is GREATER than anything/anyone the enemy chooses to send against me. Something I struggle with is understanding that “Jesus is the answer, the power, and the savior…I am not.” Knowing this truth helps me to acknowledge how important prayer is and how overlooked and underestimated the power of it is. The biggest thing UP-LA has taught me is the power of prayer. I pray that the world learns this same value of prayer.

Sasha Bills

Kentucky State University