Helping ministry close to home

Sarah O'Keefe--Announcements for the semester's Urban Excursion are posted on the wall.

California Baptist University’s Office of Spiritual Life offers students the opportunity to turn a weekend into a time of service through Urban Excursion.

“It provides opportunity for students to serve in ministry in an urban setting and gives exposure to a variety of ministries taking place,” Brett Vowell, director of chapel and compassion ministries, said.

Urban Excursion teams CBU students with “existing ministries that are active and having an impact in that specific urban setting,” Vowell said.

With approximately 14 students per team, OSL sends out two teams a semester.

“The challenge is finding available weekends on the calendar. We are hoping to maybe do three a semester next year,” Vowell said.

Training was incorporated into the program for the first time this year, an addition that helped prepare even returning student participants for fieldwork.

“If you want to learn about a city, urban ministry, God’s people or just want to explore God’s calling for your life, I would highly suggest going on one,” sophomore Cameron Malchow said.

Senior Allison Collins has participated with Urban Excursion in Los Angeles, Los Vegas and Sacramento.

“From that trip (to Los Angeles) God has been working in my heart and has given me a desire to complete inner-city ministry. I want to become a teacher in a low functioning school district, like the one in Los Angeles that we visited, and open an after school tutoring/mentoring program,” Collins said.

Students have not been the only ones impacted by these weekend service trips.

“Last spring we were working with a church in San Diego and the pastor sent us out with basic supplies like socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, anything to meet some needs,” Vowell said.

“I will always remember this one gentleman that as we were talking to people and offering them socks he said ‘Thank you and I appreciate your gift, but I know there is somebody in more need of those than I am.’”

The man also said that he was a businessman, fully employed, with a good income at a great job. But because of the economy he cannot afford a home.

“The broad spectrum of what homelessness is for different people stuck with me,” Vowell said.

CBU will be sending teams to San Francisco from Feb. 25-27 and San Diego from March 25 -27. There is a $30 fee that goes towards covering ministry costs.

Students interested in participating in the Urban Excursion experience can sign up for one of the upcoming trips by visiting the Office of Spiritual Life.