NYCUP is not about "me", but it's about Jesus. And 10 years ago, Brooke met Jesus in the South Bronx during NYCUP Summer and it's that encounter that drives she and her husband's support for NYCUP today. Check out her story!
"I give to NYCUP because the eight weeks I spent with NYCUP in the summer of 2005 changed my life.
I worked with two fellow NYCUP students at a community center on the Lower East Side. We were the only three white people in the neighborhood.
Including me, there were twelve students that summer. We lived with five staff members in a walkup apartment in the South Bronx, which had one bathroom and no air conditioning.
What strikes me now when I remember this time is the almost complete lack of distractions. We didn’t have a TV. One person had a laptop, but we didn’t have Internet. (We could sometimes access a neighbor’s unprotected wifi, but not always.) Most of us had cell phones, but of course they weren’t smart phones, and even texting was in its infancy. We were given a weekly $20 stipend and asked not to spend any of our own money.
And so we entered into relationship with one another. There wasn’t much else to do.
For the first couple weeks I was overwhelmed by my surroundings. I had never lived in a city. I had never lived or worked in a place where I was in the racial minority. At times I had no idea what I was doing there. I felt useless.
One night we had Bible study on the roof; it was simply too hot in the kitchen, which was our only communal space. We studied Isaiah 58, wherein God describes true fasting:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Is 58:6-7)
And suddenly I got it. I got why I was there. I got why God had called me to this hot, uncomfortable, hard summer (in lieu of going to Scotland with friends).
As Tiffany Houck-Loomis said that night, Our salvation is tied to the salvation of the poor.
These verses humbled me to the dust. They still do. I am called to loose the chains of injustice, but I still buy clothes from stores that use sweatshops. I am called to share my food with the hungry, but I keep so much for myself. I am called to set the oppressed free, and yet so often I find myself, through my complacency, on the side of the oppressor.
That night, sweating in a folding chair on the roof, God impressed on my heart what matters to God. And it was less about personal righteousness than I had been taught.
God’s heart is for a larger reconciliation, a worldwide movement toward justice. And we are all called to be a part of it.
I give to NYCUP because I want to remain a part of that work, and a part of the community that so radically shaped my faith ten years ago.
Full disclosure: My husband Simeon and I met that summer at NYCUP. We’ve been married for five years and live in Long Island, where he is serving as the pastor of a local United Methodist church. Long Island is a radically different mission field than the South Bronx. But God’s presence is no less needed here.
Whenever I feel God calling me to do something that scares me, I remember that attending NYCUP was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And I am still reaping the blessings of being faithful to God’s call.
I give to NYCUP because my heart still breaks for New York City. I long to see it restored.
I give to NYCUP because I long to see students' hearts transformed by God’s heart for the poor, just as mine was."
Brooke Adams Law attended NYCUP in the spring and summer of 2005 and graduated from Vassar College in 2007. Her devotional Journeying Through Lent is now available for pre-order on Amazon; 10% of total sales will be donated to Compassion International.