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Archive for the ‘urban America’ Category

Nobody says you have to be gangstas, hoes
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Ghetto children, do your thing

Nas grew up in Queensbridge, one of the housing projects I worked in for three years, in NYC.

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Summer staff 2010

My summer staff – StreetLeaders and Interns (minus a few). We got along really well! There’s a great wall of graffiti near the skating rink and Camden and it’s tradition to have our staff group photo taken there.

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The Courier-Post makes a very true observation that teachers in Camden miss more school than kids. The kids we work with are constantly telling us they have a sub or had to be shifted to another classroom for the day, and there are many spontaneous half-day and full day closings throughout the year.

I know teaching in Camden is not easy, but what up with that?

Check out the article here.

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Although Camden hasn’t always held the top spot, for 2009 we’re back to being #1 in the nation for being the most dangerous city in America. Check out the article here.

My hometown of Birmingham was 6th and surprisingly New York City was 296th!

Camden is a city of potential. But I’m not surprised it’s considered the most dangerous. Why? Because it’s also the nation’s most poverty stricken city. And can we also mention the history of corruption of city officials? The last three Camden mayors are in jail for corruption charges. Interesting!

Corruption + Poverty = Danger

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Values

Ouch!

Via ASBO Jesus

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We’re teaching the kids about the life of Jesus and last week’s lesson was called Jesus Was Born For Us. One of my goals is to communicate the gospel in a culturally appropriate way. So, with our urban context, I pieced together a video about the life of Jesus and put the song “Our God” by The Cross Movement as the background music.

When we played it, the kids started laughing. They were kind of freaked out because whenever they’ve seen videos of Jesus and Biblical stories, it’s always been classical (White) music in the background. Not some guys rapping, “Yeah Lord!” The song even says,

“You prolly never had the living God unpacked,
Unpacked by some rapper the living God don’ jacked.”

Over dinner a few days later, my teenage staff members brought up the video in conversation and was like, “Yeah, Miss Jenn, I didn’t know what to think…”

I’m happy with how they responded. I didn’t mind that they laughed or thought it was weird. I want them to realize that Jesus is just as accessible and real as the rap music they enjoy. The music is modern and so is Jesus. Does that make sense?

I think it’s good to see old stories with a fresh perspective and I’m thankful music helps us do that.

I posted the video below, along with the lyrics of the song. For me, it was really powerful seeing these images of Jesus and hearing the words “Jesus our God.”

[Intro]
Yeah Lord! (Yeah Lord!)
Can we tell ’em about you? (Can we tell ’em about you?)
I know they don’t know (I know they don’t know?)
But they listening right now so we might as well. (But they listening right now, so we might as well.)
We just gonna talk about you. (We just gonna talk about you.)
We gonna vibe with you. (We gonna vibe with you.)
Help ’em vibe with you, Lord. (Help ’em vibe with you, Lord.)
They prolly never heard. (They prolly never heard.)

[Verse 1]
You prolly never had the living God unpacked,
Unpacked by some rapper the living God don’ jacked.
For His own purpose, you know it’s seems to bug,
People the way He mends though he picks up scrubs.
Like you won’t like me, but enough of this intro,
Introduing this God, gotta give up for this info.
Info all about the One that the texts calls ‘Yahweh’,
Yahweh is the I AM he had a Son come our way,
Our way to Yahweh is the man Christ Jesus,
Jesus is the Son Yahweh sent to man. Christ breezes,
Breezes to another person known as God the Spirit,
The Spirit is the third person of the God Head, hear it.
Here it is, the foundation. God’s Triune.
This things hard, Hard to lay out in sixteen bars.
Bars of truth about God, Doesn’t this seem odd?
A rapper would bring truth heavy as 16 cars.

[Chorus]
Our God!
I decided to write. I aquired a mic,
I want your eye on The Christ,
‘Cuz he is our God!
Aint no body like Him. Thats just why we like Him,
Plus we got our life from,
Jesus our God!
We won’t stop till every block is listenin
He’s on top, cuz on top is his proper
‘Cuz this our God!
What other God would cop from every race
of people so we could show off His grace.
No one but our God!

[Verse 2]
You ever heard the word attributes?
Attributes describe; God’s got so many vibe, some of them I have to shoot.
Shoot, eternality just to start it off.
Off the timeline, he was here before he started all.
All knowning, all powerful, all present. Yes yes,
These are the omni’s of God. He’s at His best,
In every way, in every class. His very breath
Creates and sustains every day and every step.
Step with me. Get with me, you know im movin’ y’all.
I’m movin y’all. To see the sovreign Lord who proves it all,
It all comes closer as sin comes to the forefront,
Front if you want His grace and mercy. We all want,
We all want love, but none of us want wrath,
Wrath is in the package, the enemy won’t last.
Last, but not least He’s beautiful.
Holy, He’s Just, Transcendent, He’s Immanent Plus Immutable.

[Chorus]
Our God!
I decided to write. I aquired a mic,
I want your eye on The Christ,
‘Cuz he is our God!
Aint no body like Him. Thats just why we like Him,
Plus we got our life from,
Jesus our God!
We won’t stop till every block is listenin
He’s on top, cuz on top is his proper
‘Cuz this our God!
What other God would cop from every race
of people so we could show off His grace.
No one but our God!

[Verse 3]
I kick this for you, though it bores you. Isn’t it disloyal
to dis God, when this God picked us from soil.
Soil was given the shine like he dipped us in oil.
Oil is the sign of God’s Spirit who boils,
Boiling. Hot flashes is what he gives. It’s for you,
For you to give it back. Lord, let this adore you.
A door to this God is all narrow is all, Get out.
Get out, is what you hear to narrow tree. Spit out,
Spit out the lukewarm. The Lukewarm,
Those who really dont know, The God of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
But now you have life, so does the Ambassador,
Ambassador, Uses the mic just like a rapper does,
A rapper doesn’t usually recite the story of,
His story of Him, who gets the sole “Gloria”,
Glory to Jesus, the way to the father,
Father now we can call you more than God.
We can call you ABBA. Your God.

[Chorus]
Our God!
I decided to write. I aquired a mic,
I want your eye on The Christ,
‘Cuz he is our God!
Aint no body like Him. Thats just why we like Him,
Plus we got our life from,
Jesus our God!
We won’t stop till every block is listenin
He’s on top, cuz on top is his proper
‘Cuz this our God!
What other God would cop from every race
of people so we could show off His grace.
No one but our God!

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Urban ministry leader Arloa Sutter has a series on Twitter called “Being poor is….” and it hits the reality of urban poverty on the head. They resonate with me because they are 100% true!  I’ve been there and I know other people who have been there.    Arloa understands urban poverty issues and communicates them powerfully in 140 characters.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is bed bugs with no hope of relief.

Being poor is hearing the rats scratching in the walls at night.

Being poor is discovering you can run an extension cord from the light the landlord leaves on in the back stairway.

Being poor is standing in line at a food store at midnight on the last day of the month when the LINK card (food stamps) gets replenished.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

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