Learning to Rely 100% on God

I had been going through a lot of personal issues before BUP even started. These issues often challenged my ability to complete activities within the program. As hard and frustrating as many days have been, I have been growing so much in my walk with Christ. God has been teaching me to rely on Him more fully. I have been learning how to not simply rely on Him in general for that week or even for that day, but that one particular moment. He has been teaching me what it means to rely on Him for each and every breath. I have learned the difference between knowing God is there and actually using His strength to fight through each moment (and thrive in many of those moments). I have been learning what it means practically to be indwelt by a living God who cares about me and loves me. And I am still learning and will keep learning for the rest of my life.
BUP has challenged me and is challenging me still in so many ways. I will never be the same. (And yeah, I guess that sounds cliche, but I actually mean it. I am not the same, for reals.) You can’t live off of God’s strength pretty much entirely for almost six weeks and expect to be left unchanged by that.
God truly is all we really need. Those who seek Him will find Him, and He always provides strength for the weak.
-BUP 2017 reflection
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My Prayer for Baltimore

by Brittany Brame

O Lord, I pray for the City of Baltimore. The people are in need of so much. But I thank you for the richness and spirit you have filled the communities and the people within them.

I pray for the children and that you can restore the dreams that have been suppressed, destroyed, and distorted. That you would put people and opportunities, like seeds in place to help those dreams to flourish. I pray for peace in every household of Baltimore. especially the ones with children. I pray that the caretakers would be able to provide the basic necessities for their children and themselves. I pray that every child in this city will receive the meals and snacks that would leave them full and satisfied. Let the food fuel them to start each day ready to learn wherever they may go. I pray for the teachers in the school that you would give them wisdom, strength, kindness, humility, and compassion for the kids they are serving. That they would soften their hearts in order to teach the kids there. To not come in with a negative mindset and not to come in with low expectation but to set high expectations for excellence. Letting them know that they are capable of striving towards goals.

Lord, I pray for the people who feel hopeless and have no other choice but to work on the streets as prostitutes and drug dealers. I pray that you would put the people and the tools in place for them to get out of their difficult situations.

I pray for the mentally ill people living in Baltimore especially the one’s with no access to adequate healthcare and don’t have anyone to talk to. I pray you will open people’s eyes and minds in order to better serve them and I pray people will go out of their way to help them. I pray that you will provide for them in all areas where they are unable to help themselves. Like not being able to hold a job because they don’t have the mental strength to get up in the morning. I pray for their care providers, like their families and friends who are struggling to understand but sticking around and enduring the pain with their spouse, friend, or family member.

I thank you so much for the people, including families that have moved into the area in order to serve you and, to be of service to others . I pray that you give them strength, wisdom, and compassion that can be sustained over time so they can continue to serve the people in the city. I pray that you will help to keep fueling their passion for you and not to become complacent with their work.

In Jesus name, Amen.

by Brittany Brame

Redistribution

by Abby Dibert

Throughout all of BUP, we have been studying different themes. Within each of these, we have been studying Scripture, hearing from a speaker, and watching a documentary. Sometimes our weekly cultural event also relates to the theme for that week.
The theme for this past week was redistribution. We began by studying God’s commands in the Old Testament regarding the distribution of wealth and other resources. It is really sad how much we have strayed from the commands in the Bible. We talked about the process of gleaning, which involves farmers intentionally not harvesting all of their fields or vineyards. We also discussed the Year of Jubilee and the Sabbath Year and how much faith would be required to fully engage in those practices. We also talked about other commands regarding money in the Bible, about what happened when those commands were followed, and about what happened when those commands were not followed.
We then went on to define redistribution. It involves everyone bringing something and then sharing as a community. It can apply to basically any area of need. Redistribution is not a free handout. Instead, it allows opportunities for just access to resources.
For someone who is already planning on moving into another community to serve, using redistribution makes so much sense to me. It is different and not as simple as free handouts, but it seems to me to be more effective. Our speaker this week commented that her education and employment experiences equipped her to plan great events with no shortage in food and everything that would be needed. But she alone would have great difficulty drawing people to the event. Her coworker is the neighborhood, so his connections are crucial for informing people about the events. If he alone were in charge, there would be a ton of people but his experiences did not prepare him well for event planning. Each person provides what they can for a successful event. To me, this makes so much sense.
I came into the program knowing little about the needs of of Mt. Clare. It was through with the neighbors that I began to understand some of the broken things and beautiful things in thus neighborhood. Working alongside neighbors allows those who aren’t from the community to help where it’s needed. Those coming in to serve are not the ones who have lived here every day of their lives, so they don’t know what it’s like to grow up here. There is still a lot that I don’t know, but I got to know quite a bit from interacting with the neighbors and hearing from them what they see as areas of need in this neighborhood.
We then went on a redistribution tour, which involved visiting coffee shops, an urban farm, a construction warehouse, and some other places to learn more about how redistribution is currently happening. It almost seems crazy to me that we don’t see it more often. It just makes so much sense for everyone to bring something for everyone to share as a community.

by Abby Dibert

Hi I’m David I Write Prayers

by Hannah Brogan

After a Friday worship sesh (after a rough few days of camp), I found I still had a lot of prayers on my mind, so I walked to Carol Park in the rain so that I could write them down. This is a thing I have never done before, but at the time it made a lot of sense. I wrote this one about being able to respond to the actions of my campers with love and understanding, but it ended up just being about love in general. Love is a pretty cool thing I guess.

Loving God,
You love the world
In its sin
In its brokenness
In its insignificance
Because you are love itself
Lord, teach us your love
Fill our hearts with so much love
That we cannot contain it on our own
And so we share your love
Among friends, sinners, enemies and strangers
Give us your loving eyes
Make us unable to know the unloved
Without sharing the love you gave us
Let the love in us be our fuel and fire
So that our every action and thought is touched with love
Until the day we know your love in Heaven
Amen

by Hannah Brogan

Reconciliation Week

by Josh Punnoose

During high school, conversations about my own ethnicity, or the experiences or values common for people within a geographic area that shaped a person, were rare. As a result, I came to project my experiences as the same for everyone in America. For example, growing up my parents would wake up early every school day to make healthy lunches for my brothers and I and extensively search for educational summer programs to expand our minds. Without knowing that this experience was part of my ethnicity, I created unrealistic expectations for other people’s families and would judge them as not as loving as my own. Realizing this as part of my ethnicity however, forced me to recognize that the way I was raised was not better or worse than someone else’s but that it is just different as it is based on a different set of values.

Similarly, during college, I learned that the way that I interacted with the law was not the same for everyone. I learned that the law disproportionately affects Black, who are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites. Part of the reason for this is because the way that our laws are structured. For example, though powder and crack cocaine are very similar (crack cocaine is powder cocaine mixed with powder and baking soda), 1g of crack cocaine, which is more common in poorer Black communities, is given the same sentence of 100 g of powder cocaine. This along with mandatory minimum sentence robs large populations of Blacks of a future since it’s harder to get a job with a criminal record. With difficulties in obtaining employment, the effects of poverty are carried down to the next generations, making it harder for future generations to create a future for themselves. This fact led me to realize that the problems facing the Black community are systemic in nature since they have been incorporated into the laws and the effects of the law on one generation are passed down to subsequent ones.

Yet this intellectual understanding of the racial injustices did not translate into becoming an activist against injustices affecting the Black community. I would only engage in conversations about race with people who would agree with me because I knew that engaging with dissenters would only bring conflict. As a result, I became very racially apathetic, never acting on the convictions that I professed. I felt the shame of this mindset this past week when we talked about racial inequalities. However, on Wednesday we were reminded of God’s grace and his ability to remove ALL sins, including the racial ones I had been committing. Though I know that engaging in conversations about race with those that disagree with me and fighting against racial inequalities will be difficult and messy, I want to try to embrace these opportunities because I know that these issues are on God’s heart and that the mistakes I do make will be covered by God’s grace.

by Josh Punnoose