Written by Jordan Williams
Hey peeps! First off hope summer is going well for you all and you are getting a much needed rest from school/work. As you know we have spent our first week and a half in Oakland at BayUp and it has already been even more of an amazing experience than I could have imagined. The mission statement for Bay Area Urban Project was “restoring Shalom (things as they ought to be, or how they were intended to be in the beginning) in the inner-city” and it is amazing how every single issue we have addressed so far has addressed either the problem of broken Shalom, or how it can be restored and what our roles are in accomplishing that. For our first week, we all met as a group for orientation at Regeneration Church and discussed injustice issues we would be seeing at our work sites, or just in the city and personal goals such as: violence in the inner city, God in politics, racial reconciliation, Earth ethics in light of scripture, the criminal justice system, the education system, and human trafficking (all huge issues either mainly in Oakland, or the world at large).
So much happened during orientation week that there is no possible way to include everything in a brief summary, but the highlights included: not having technology (which has been very refreshing), talking to people and asking them what Oakland means the them on International Blvd (the main street in East Oakland), spending a day as a low-income full time laborer (some of us were day workers, custodians, contracted laborers, or house cleaners ), spending a night sleeping on the streets, listening to numerous talks that were very impactful, getting to know all the other awesome BayUp’ers and developing lifelong relationships, and, most importantly, seeing where God fits into this crazy world (that seems to move 100mph all the time) and into our lives as Children of God pursuing his kingdom the way he intended us to.
After orientation, we left ReGeneration Church to all go to our worksites. Me, Samuel, and Corrie were assigned to work for a faith-based non-profit organization called CityTeam, where we get the unique opportunity of working with men coming out of substance abuse, hearing their stories, serving the organization through labor, and essentially just developing relationships with the guys and seeing Christ revealed as their lives get transformed. Unlike all the other BayUp groups (that will be working for different non-profits around Oakland), we are living on site with the men, eating with them, and just doing life with them. It has only been three days and it has already been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Once again, too much has happened for me to include all of the highlights in one post, but the best way I can sum it up is expressing the wonderful surprise of receiving relational wealth from the men we are doing life with, seeing the power of Christ play out in each of their lives, and witnessing what Christ can do for people that have seen everything they had ripped from them due to drug and alcohol abuse.
The general plan for us is to update our blog twice a week, so I hope to get another entry out in the next few days, but until then, God bless all of you and I very much appreciate all of your prayers! I’ll leave ya’ll with this verse “John 3 v.30” Peace!