Friday, June 24, 2016

More Than Hammers and Paint Brushes

Our Housing Ministry is so much more than hammers and paint brushes. The families we are able to help are exposed to God's love in a tangible and meaningful way, and our faith is lifted as well. A volunteer group from Boones Creek in Johnson City, Tennessee came to Birmingham this week to help CSM paint a house for the Mixon family. They were finished in a day and a half! The Mixons were kind enough to cook lunch onsite Wednesday and Thursday. We played with the children of the house and were able to entertain them (no wait... they entertained us!) while we were there. Then on Thursday, we started a new project painting the Harris’s house. The group from Boones Creek was able to get most of the trim painted for this house. They survived the heat and some unusual challenges with big smiles and hearts.

A Note From Tracy Hipps: God's Power On Display

The power of God to change lives is amazing. At CSM, we get to be in the middle of this work everyday. We have seen the hand of God touch the lives of the people he has allowed us to minister to through our partnerships in Birmingham. It can be overwhelming to recall everything we see happen on a daily basis, but this is a glimpse into some of the ways we have seen God's power on display this year.

At the beginning of the year, a college/young adult group came in to serve. About thirty of these folks were busy that week painting a home. One young lady was wrestling with her faith in Christ, but after a few days on a scaffold painting and talking to one of the CSM staff, she began to see a way to pursue a relationship with the Lord. A few weeks later, her father was in town on a business trip and dropped by to tell us about the astonishing change in his daughter and in their relationship.

In the fall of 2015 we started working with the Jackson family, and in April 2016 we completed the construction of their home. The relationships that have been developed through the process have been a testimony of this families’ faith in Christ. The peace in their family and the gratitude they feel is obvious to everyone they know.

This past winter we started meeting with YouthWorks, a national organization that brings high school and junior high groups to Birmingham in the summers. We challenged them to pick a specific community and focus their attention to make a lasting impact. They picked Fairfield, and God has worked it out for them to bring over 400+ teens in for the summer to impact and partner with Fairfield Ministries to see the power of God move in a community that is in desperate need of unity.

This past March we had the privilege to be a part of Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church’s first Global Impact Missions Conference along with 13 other mission groups. To watch a church culture change and to come more in line with the Great Commission is because of the power of the Lord in the lives of the church leaders. Dr. Wesley has truly been a mentor and brother to me in the journey of community and church development in Birmingham.

It was just this spring that we were able to partner with New Rising Star for their “Operation East” community-wide outreach for the 4th year. Our participation in this event allows us to have a front row seat to see lives changed by the power of the Gospel. This partnership has grown in depth and breadth, and NRS sent kids to Kids Across America (KAA) this year where we saw 14 kids from our group come to Christ.

Just this week I had a meeting with a young pastor called to serve the Church in Birmingham. He is ready to help revitalize an inner-city church that was established almost 100 years ago. It has to be the power of God to do this kind of new work in an old city. We have the opportunity to partner with this pastor to help change the community around his church through the power of the Gospel.

The power of God is not magical… it is amazing! The power to change lives— one person and one
community at a time. The Lord continues to open the doors to see His power on display, both in the CSM Ministry Center and in the partner communities we serve.

Tracy Hipps talks about his week at Kids Across America

This year CSM took 129 people to Kids Across America camp on three chartered buses. We were the largest group on the campus of four camps! Tracy Hipps looks forward to it all year long, "This is my 26th year to take kids from inner-city Birmingham to Missouri for an amazing week of every kind of camp experience a kid could dream of... water sports, archery, high ropes courses, creative arts... you name it!"

CSM traveled with kids on three chartered buses from nine groups; Momentum Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Cornerstone Schools, Grace House Ministries, Mount Zion Community Church, Aspire Ministries, Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Harvest Community Church and a new group of students from New Rising Star. Also, for the first time five girls from Grace House attended the Higher Ground (HG) Leadership camp the same week. HG is for 15-18 year olds and is designed to challenge Christian students in their faith by helping them establish a devotional time, testimony and learn to disciple others in their faith. It teaches the students how to actively share their faith by participating at camp with the younger camp in the evangelistic "Cross Talk" night where they have opportunity to lead kids to Christ.  

The highlight of each week is "Cross Talk" night in which the different camps have a live reenactment of the beating and crucifixion of Christ on the cross. "It is so powerful and moving. I have seen it over 30 times at camp and I am moved by what Christ did for us." says Tracy. "The presentation is done at three sites and at three levels. K1 is for the 9-11 year olds, K2 is for the 12-14 year olds and K3 is for 15-18 years old, and it gets intense. The environment that KAA has created for this moves everyone to respond. This year, the group that went with CSM had 14 kids begin a new relationship with Christ for the first time, and we had another 29 who requested prayer and discipleship." Tracy was at the K2 camp, and was deeply moved by the responses from the kids in his group. Tracy heard one girl from Cornerstone Schools say to her school friend, "I truly love each of you and want to remember this when we go back to school." Tracy is certain these kids lives are forever changed by the experience they had at KAA this year. He also wanted to share with you some of the excitement expressed by one of the adult counselors who went on the KAA trip with CSM.

"First and foremost, I want to say THANK YOU for allowing the students and I to attend KAA. This was an unbelievable experience for our students, myself and my assistant coach Jamecia Davis. I really didn’t know what to expect going on this trip but personally it was truly a breath of fresh air. The entire KAA experience is amazing. I was able to see God’s power flow through all of us, especially our students. I’ve never been a part of any moment as powerful, truly pouring into their lives about Christ and how to walk out their faith daily. They were very engaged and hanging on to every word I was telling them, which was simply POWERFUL. My assistant coach and I are truly thankful for having the opportunity to take our students to KAA as well as experience a much needed breath of fresh air ourselves. Every person that works there are full of positive energy and on fire for Christ. I’m so grateful for that entire week!!!"

Jazmine Powers
Cornerstone High School
Head Girl’s Basketball Coach

Jasmine Powers (far left) with KAA campers

We Love Gardens... and Barns... and Horses... and Kids!

Congratulations to The Red Barn for a successful 2nd Annual Take the Reins 10K fundraiser on June 11. The Red Barn is an award-winning nonprofit agency in Leeds, Alabama offering individuals of all ages and abilities the opportunity to work with horses. Courtney Roberts shared some of their pictures and a big ‘Thank You’ to CSM for supplying the bottled water for the runners. They had a little over 130 runners participate Saturday morning, who were each kindly handed a bottled water by one of the young Red Barn students as they crossed the finish line.

Courtney Roberts of The Red Barn making a water run at CSM

Interns Light Up CSM!

Summer interns: Marissa, Morgan and Nathan
CSM instituted a formal internship program this year, seeking mature college students to assist with the groups that come here to volunteer, learn about urban ministry, and grow in their areas of study. God has been faithful in sending amazing young adults our way, and they have brought so much more to the job than we first imagined. Marissa, Morgan, and Nathan light up the building with their enthusiasm, they move the train far down the tracks with their hard work, and they are a beautiful testimony to all the guests and volunteers they lead throughout each week. We would like to introduce our three summer interns to you.

Marissa Bruton is a 22 year old from Greenville, SC. She is a Clemson University student pursuing a degree in Parks Recreation and Tourism Management. After a Spring Break mission trip to CSM with the Navigators from Clemson, Marissa felt led to return as an intern for the summer. She plans on graduating in December. Marissa enjoys volleyball, swing dancing, gardening and hanging out with friends. Since she has been at CSM, she has helped supervise many different volunteer groups of all ages, facilitated Kids Across America registration and has been actively working in the gardens, among many other things. She is looking forward to learning more about how CSM, as a faith-based non-profit, functions within the broader community to affect positive change.

Morgan Rhodes, 22 years old, originally came to CSM as an intern during her spring semester this year, and decided to do a second internship this summer. She graduated in May from Samford University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology. She has been accepted into Samford's Masters of Social Work program, which will begin in fall. She is from Atoka, Tennessee just outside of Memphis. She was a key coordinator of our Mother's day program, helps with general administrative duties and works with our volunteers in many capacities. She is also involved in the social work aspect of our Housing Ministry and helps with special projects. Morgan says, "I am so excited for this internship, and I can't thank CSM enough for the opportunity!"

Nathan Walker is also 22 years old, was born and raised here in Birmingham, and is a recent graduate of Covenant College with a degree in Community Development. Nathan is passionate about grassroots development and came to CSM in part to find out in which area of community development he ultimately would enjoy working. He enjoys serving others, and is excited to get experience in the urban ministry sector of development during his time here. Nathan is working with the volunteer groups who are in town this summer. He is also excited about learning and seeing more of his hometown through the fearless leadership of Tracy Hipps. After this summer, he will move to Lookout Mountain, Georgia (about 20 minutes from Chattanooga) where he hopes to be able to find a job and to work with a refugee re-settlement ministry in Chattanooga.

Our summer interns are running on all cylinders everyday, involved in everything from supervising volunteer groups to covering the front desk, administrative duties, creating content for our newsletter and social media, organizing the kitchens, etc. They attend our weekly staff meetings and are fully integrated into the culture of the ministry. They have already become known for finding fun surprises hidden in the warehouse (like the box of Silly Putty they recently uncovered)... on scooters, of course.

We are accepting applications for Fall interns. If you, or someone you know, would be a good fit for an internship with CSM, please contact

Marissa covered in paint and smiles

Morgan cheerfully tending to Compassion Food Box delivery

Nathan moving around the warehouse at lightning speed

Fall Recruitment Happening Now!

Social work and administration intern, Morgan Rhodes
It already feels like we are (heat) blasting through summer, and fall will be here before we know it. Our fall internship program will kick-off around Labor Day, so be sure and contact us soon if you (or someone you know) is interested in learning about dynamic and effective urban ministry. We are specifically looking for college students or recent college graduates with a major in Community Development, Social Work, Communications, Design or Business.

We are also recruiting volunteers for specific ministry aspects here at CSM. If you are 18 years or older with time to offer during the week and would like to make a great impact on our city, please consider these volunteer opportunities to serve:
  1. S.T.A.I.R.  reading program at Oliver Elementary School
  2. Construction projects on-site and in the communities we serve
  3. Painting projects on-site and in the communities we serve
  4. Gardening / horticulture / aquaponics / hydroponics
  5. Art / craft teaching and facilitating
  6. CSM Front Desk volunteer - welcoming guests and answering phone
For more information, please contact Judy Barber |