Giving of Life
http://givingoflife.com/browse/the_simple_way - http://givingoflife.com/browse/the_simple_way
We are a community inspired by the early church of acts, which began out of a struggle of homeless families here in Philadelphia in 1995… now that has become a global movement. We live in one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods. Kensington, Philadelphia—we have lost over 200,000 jobs and have over 700 abandoned factories, over 25000 vacant homes, and 15000 vacant lots… and the largest economy is heroine.
We have been inspired by the early church in the book of acts, and so we share both beliefs and practices of Christian faith. We believe the gospel is lived out of dinner tables and living rooms. We preach with our mouths and with our lives.
We do not believe in simply creating programs or services, but in creating community. For this reason, we live in the neighborhood we serve.
A few highlights of both the local and global. As the old saying goes “Think Global, Act Local”—or as we say “Dream big, but live small.” Here’s what it looks like.
We have 12 properties in the inner city within walking distance of each other, many of them are formerly abandoned, some of which we acquired for as little as $1—this is the heart of our village, and it includes a hospitality house, an intern house, and several abandoned properties we brought back to life. We have annual events like our Labor Day School Supply giveaway and our Christmas Toy Distribution that serve hundreds of families… but they are not our clients, they are our friends.
Most of the work is done out of our homes: helping kids with homework, offering a home to the homeless, doing arts and murals and gardens.
We have a football league where over 150 young men get mentored, each team sponsored by a local congregation. It is called Timoteo, Spanish for Timothy, and we are committed to discipling young men in a neighborhood where male role models are nearly extinct.
We have several community gardens most of which are on formerly trash-strewn lots that we have brought back to life. One of our gardens is on a space where a fire burnt down nearly a dozen houses on the block.
Every summer we create camp opportunities for kids within 3 blocks of where we live—both here in the hood with open fire hydrants and water balloon fights, and by getting kids outside the concrete jungle to places like the Poconos. And kids learn the bible and how to follow Jesus.
We also create regional gatherings in our area, Nights of Celebration, to share what God is doing in our City. These gatherings converge hundreds of folks, Protestant and Catholic, together to celebrate all that God is doing… and to bear each others burdens. One of Jesus’s longest prayers is that we would be one as God is one—so we try to make that happen in our city.
We have created resources to connect the dots and build a movement of radical Christian community, beyond Philadelphia—around the world.
Conspire magazine is our “literary coop” funded by communities around the world who also become distribution depots for the mag
Friends Without Borders emerged out of numerous peace delegations to the middle east and other areas of conflict. It has been called e-harmony for reconciliation and is a social network committed to build real friendships in a world of war. www.friendswithoutborders.net
These global projects also have concrete fruit as we do things like help repair a hospital that was bombed in Rutba, Iraq and create clean water systems in Africa.
We have a directory of communities (communityofcommunities.info) where we list dozens of faith communities around the world so folks can connect with their local Jesus revolution.
We have overseen and helped facilitate national and international gatherings such as PAPA Festival, People Against Poverty and Apathy, (papafestival.org) and we have joined forces with the most redemptive things happening for God around the world like ccda.org (Christian Community Development Association). In fact we have a Jubilee Fund where we share thousands of dollars generated by Shane’s book The Irresistible Revolution… a way of recognizing that we are not alone.
We now have full-tuition scholarships for kids from our neighborhood to go to college at Eastern University as Simple Way scholars. We will continue to create jobs, career possibilities, build alternative futures.
OUR NEWEST PROJECT—
On the horizon is an urban aquaponics system, where we can create vertical gardens in a integrated system of water and plants—on one of the formerly vacant lots. Fish will be raised on the bottom and “enrich” the water which cycles through solar pumps to raised bed gardens, growing both fish and veggies. Then we can have fish tacos. More than anything our kids in the concrete jungle will get to see the miracle of life and creation. We get to see kids catch their first glimpse of a bumble bee and a firefly… and through connecting with creation they can see the beauty of the God that made them.
We are not simply interested in dealing with the symptoms of poverty but the disease itself.
It has been said, “Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day. Teach them to fish and they will eat for the rest of their lives.” But we also have to ask who owns the pond… who built the fence around the pond, and who polluted it. And why does a fishing license cost so much?
Here at The Simple Way—we feed people. We teach folks to fish. And we also ask who owns the pond. May we continue to build the world we dream of.