Friday, March 18, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Clemson University Navigator's

I sometimes forget what a joy it is to work with college students. They are smart, they are in a great spot in life of figuring out who they are and what they believe and they typically bring an energy and excitement unlike any other age bracket. In a nutshell, that very accurately describes the group of 40 college students that I had the privilege to work with this week. A large group of students from Clemson University joined us at CSM to help us with our food ministry, warehouse organization, construction ministry and gardens! One project after another, all I had to do was say "here is what I want accomplished" and "does that make sense?" Every time I was met with a resounding "yes!" and then I would watch as each of these students became a project manager to accomplish the tasks before them. Thanks to them, a paint project is complete, our new workshop is prepped for windows, our second greenhouse has its beds set up, our warehouse has three aisles completely reorganized, our mother's day packs are made and ready to bless our nursing home partners around the city, and all of us on staff were equally blessed by this group's presence! I told them at the beginning of the week, that it's not about what you accomplish this week, but what you learn that matters to me. I truly believe that this group learned a ton about themselves and their faith during their time here and I can personally vouch for how much work they were able to accomplish as well. Thanks for a great week Clemson Navigators! - Michael Bowen, Volunteer Coordinator

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Shades Serve Day

An annual highlight for CSM occurs in the middle of the Shades Mountain Baptist Church Missions Conference, when hundreds of Shades kids, students and adult members— along with visiting missionaries— converge at our ministry center for Serve Day. On Saturday, Feb. 27, enthusiastic teams spread out all around the warehouse to tackle multiple projects and made a huge impact in a short time. Some of the service projects included construction of a new wood working shop, medical missions supply reorganization, diapers bundling, wall and trim painting, grounds clearing, warehouse sorting and inventory. The craft room was packed with creative kids hammering, painting and illustrating for coming outreach events. Since we operate with such a small staff, these Shades Serve Days accomplish so much more than we could ever imagine tackling on our own. We are so appreciative to all 350 volunteers, and know that every volunteer effort made here at the CSM ministry center creates change that will impact our city. Many hands make light work!

Mother's Day Messages

Mother's Day Luncheon
A mother’s words are so special when they come to us with love. Recently I was given an old letter written 30 years ago by my mother to my father’s family. It was written about six months before my mother died in 1986. This letter is like a message in a bottle to me after 30 years, “Wish all of you could have come to Tracy and Mary Jo’s wedding in Alabama, the 25th of May. You missed a beautiful, spiritual event. You could have been saved at this wedding. There was such an over-flowing abundance of Christian love, devotion and dedication.” My mother’s own words have been such an encouragement and blessing because it was written with her own hands. Mother’s Day always seems to be very emotional because we all have mother’s or memories of our mom.

           Through the loving outreach of volunteers, we have been able to bless over 6,000 moms for Mother’s Day over the years. On Mother’s Day weekend this year, we will celebrate and serve over 1,000 women in multiple nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the city. We are connecting our partner churches from nearby communities to bless these precious women, many who will not be remembered this year for Mother’s Day by anyone else. CSM will provide gift bags for all the moms in attendance that day. Church groups help us minister to them by spending time talking and playing games for approximately an hour on the morning of May 7th between 10-12 am.
Mother's Day program at Birmingham Towers
          The second event we are organizing for Mother’s Day is a Mom’s Luncheon at South Highlands Presbyterian Church on May 7th from 11:30-1pm. Fifteen local women’s help ministries will celebrate with us from various shelters and non-profit organizations around the city, such as the Well House, Jessie’s Place, Pathways, Restoration Ministry, The Dannon Project and Urban Ministries. Our partner churches sponsor a table and bring volunteers to serve the moms at the table. This year we have 15 tables available for the churches to sponsor and serve. We will have a special program, and there will be a short time for the sponsor churches to get to know the moms and participate in a few games. To sponsor a table for the women in attendance, we ask that your group send a $50 donation per table and also bring 2-4 people to honor the moms at the tables by serving and ministering to them.
If your Sunday School group or Women’s Ministry would like to be involved with this Mother’s Day outreach opportunity, please contact us at  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Note From Tracy Hipps: The Prayers of the Righteous

At the beginning of this year I was speaking to a group and one person asked the question, “How do you get your funds?” and I said, “We pray.” She asked several times because she had never heard this answer before. She thought I was not telling the whole story but this is really how we have operated here at CSM for the last six years. The passage of scripture that continues to guide us is I Thessalonians 5:24, “The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” I know He will do it and every time He has. Just last week, I was asked by one of our partners for items for their daycare. They specifically inquired about items for little kids to play with like toy furniture. This week, it came in! I am amazed by the way God continues to guide us in this Kingdom work.

Ray Bromberg, prayer warrior
For the past 4 years we have been blessed with a group of women who meet here monthly to pray for our mission and staff. These are prayer warriors for the Kingdom. and are members of several of our partner churches. Over the years, we have seen some amazing answers to our prayers. One of our longtime volunteers, Ray, leads the group. Together we have seen the hand of the Lord bless our efforts as we seek Him first.
          A Samford University Interior Design Class took on CSM as a project this semester to give us concepts for the future design of CSM Ministry Center. This week we saw 17 presentations from students who listened to our staff, measured the building in preparation, and then revealed their individual designs for the future. We were excited to see what they envisioned and we are excited to see what God could do for the future look and functionality of CSM’s Ministry Center. We now have the privilege to come up with a final plan and pray that the Lord will go before us and rebuild this place as a unique place of ministry in Avondale. To me, the prayers of our prayer team are being answered as we are faithful to the call to reach those in need. 
              The goal is to build this ministry to impact more families with our partners to see lives change for the Gospel.
Samford University Dept Of Interior Architecture
The Avondale community, in which CSM has 3.85 acres of property, is now one of the most vibrant communities in Birmingham. We have been here over 25 years, and God has gone before us to show us the way to impact our community and the other communities we serve in Birmingham.
           We need your prayers and would love to have a few more people join us monthly to pray for CSM and the impact we can have on His Kingdom work. May His Kingdom come, His will be done here on Earth as it is in heaven.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Housing Meets A Higher Purpose

CSM Housing Ministry involves building houses from the ground up, as well as repairing and restoring existing houses. Some CSM projects are in partnership with the City of Birmingham’s housing assistance program, which provides us the necessary construction materials for repairs. CSM provides skill and manpower with staff and volunteer labor. An elderly man in the Smithfield area, who has been recovering from a recent surgery, needed to have the leaks in his roof repaired. So for this city project, CSM not only replaced his entire roof, but also scraped and repainted the full exterior of his home. Now he will be able to return home to safe and restored house, painted crimson red in respect for his favorite football team (much to the chagrin of Volunteer Coordinator and Auburn graduate, Michael Bowen). Each of these volunteer projects create an opportunity to not only minister to the recipient of the labor (the homeowner), but also sends a message of love and reconciliation to our city leaders, and at the same time connect with our volunteers on a deeper level.
             This particular housing project fell in the middle of February, when we had the pleasure of hosting a group from Belmont, Massachusetts called the Belmont Religious Council. This group consisted of 35 high school students and adult leaders from all different beliefs and faith backgrounds. That being said, their purpose for visiting Birmingham was to promote the welfare of our city for the sake of “doing good.” As you know, when a group that desires to “do good” gets paired up with the Christian Service Mission, God's plan always takes precedence over their plans and our plans. During their stay with us, the Belmont Religious Council not only painted, roofed and repaired this house, but also helped us to sort about 5,000 lbs. of canned goods and build a community garden! Even for CSM, that was a lot to accomplish in just five days of service. However, the main reason for their visit was clearer to the CSM staff than the “good” that was done throughout Birmingham. This group of all different faith systems was shown and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ each and every day they were here. 

            Yes, a lot of good was done in the communities that we serve, but three of the Council members (and two of their parents) have connected with CSM since their arrival back in Belmont to discuss how their lives were changed and impacted by our staff at Christian Service Mission. Two of the members thanked us several times for “including God in everything that we do” and “encouraging (me) in my faith at such a difficult time to be a Christian.” Those are the stories that we live and work for here at CSM everyday. While often times we, along with our volunteers, focus on “doing good” in the city of Birmingham, this group from Massachusetts was a beautiful reminder that God meets us, our volunteers and those that we serve each and every day we show up to work. “Faithful is He who calls you, He will do it.”

Some New Faces

Lauren, Madalyn, Morgan and Marra (left to right)
CSM is ramping up our Intern Program, and have already been blessed with four amazingly gifted young women. Each bring to us a unique perspective and skill set, matched to our prayers! We are excited to introduce them to you!
        Lauren Howton is a graduate from UA with a Masters degree in Accounting. Lauren is currently completing her Ministry Certificate from Highlands College, and CSM is blessed to to be her ministry sponsor for her Missions Directed Study. Previously, Lauren has served as the CFO at Christ Health Center and full-time volunteer at the Dream Center. Lauren is passionate about connecting people with their purpose and using her business skills to advance the Kingdom. She is working with our volunteer group management and other new ministry initiatives. When she is not at CSM, she loves to spend time with family, read and travel.
        Madalyn Miller is a Birmingham native majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics at Samford University. Her first encounter with CSM was in high school as a volunteer through her church, Mountain Brook Community Church. During her senior internship at CSM, Madalyn will use her knowledge to improve the nutrition of those in need in the community by assembling and distributing healthy dry and frozen goods. When she's not working with Christian Service Mission, she's hanging with her friends and eating sushi!
         Morgan Rhodes is a senior, Sociology major at Samford University. She is originally from Rosemark, TN just outside of Memphis.  She plans to pursue a degree in social work, and hopes that her internship here with us will give her insight into the world of community development. Morgan has jumped into case management for families for whom CSM is rebuilding houses, as well as community outreach events. When Morgan is not working with CSM, she's either reading, hanging with friends or at Target!
          Marra Gillison is a junior Economic major with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship and a minor in Spanish from Johns Creek, GA. She recently was awarded the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship Award and plans to pursue her dream in working in economic development within Central or South American countries. Marra is already busy at CSM with program development and social media. When she's not working with Christian Service Mission, she's hanging with her friends, drinking coffee, and shopping at Trader Joes!
        At this time, we are accepting inquiries for Summer and Fall internships. If you desire to pursue an intern position at CSM, please contact Judy Barber by email: