"Why do I support NYCUP?"

"Emily, can we give money to support Jonathan's marathon?" Tim asked me as we rode the bus. 

"Sure," I replied without thinking. "That would be great!" 

That was the end of our conversation and we let Jonathan know of our intention to give. Jonathan later asked if we would write a post about we want to support and we said, "Sure!" 

But, why did I want to give? I obviously knew that I wanted to because of my lack of hesitation, but hadn't given it much conscious thought. When I finally sat down to think  about it, this is what I realized about why I don't hesitate to give toward NYCUP. 

NYCUP's Feed 500 program changed the way I think about people who are homeless. I was told in my undergrad not to give money to homeless people, and I took that to mean, "Do not interact with homeless people." I avoided them. Different homeless people in the area around the school were given nick-names. One, in particular, was nick-named "Wolf-Man." My classmates would make jokes at his expense, and I would laugh alongside them. I never asked him his real name. I believe he passed away several years, and shamefully, I still don't know his real name. He was a person, and yet I chose to make him a character and a mockery. I did not honor the image of God in him. 

But, God brought me to NYCUP and reminded me through this program that God loves justice and mercy. He calls me to take part in carrying it out, even when it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. I was encouraged to acknowledge the dignity in all people, not just in those who look dignified. NYCUP reminded me to think about others as I go through my daily activities. I have gained skills and ideas that help me interact with people who are homeless instead of avoiding them.

I now work with Jonathan and day-by-day I'm learning and growing. I realize more of my selfishness as NYCUP encourages giving of your time, talent and treasure. I'm challenged to live LoGOFF (**local, green, organic, fair and free**) when I make daily decisions. I love that about my job. NYCUP calls me into greater discipleship. 

I support NYCUP because my view of God's kingdom has been radically changed because of it. I know that this is the experience of most people who participate, and I want to see that continue. 

I spoke to a student from Manhattan School of Music several weeks back and asked her how her day was going. She beamed while she told me she got to spend a couple of hours with a friend who is homeless. NYCUP has been a large part of this student's life and has played a role in her development spiritually and as a leader. 

We desire to see more students like this. NYCUP gives people information, theological foundations, practical skills, time to practice those skills and time to debrief their experience. This is about the only program I've seen that deals with both justice and righteousness. It's also the only program I've seen that provides more than just events: it equips people to take these skills back to any given context and live them out. I want to see where God will take NYCUP and the people who participate in it. That's why I want to continually support NYCUP. 

If you would like to give towards $26K for 26 Miles, click here! For any questions or to get involved, please email nycurbanproject@gmail.com