A key component of Christian Community Development
By: Sami DiPasquale
Recently I have been sharing about the key components of a lifestyle dedicated to Christian Community Development (CCD), a holistic framework that we strive to pursue in our Ciudad Nueva community. In the last few months I have written about relocation and reconciliation, and today I’d like to delve into the third component of CCD: the sharing of resources.
Here is an abbreviated overview of resource sharing by seasoned practitioners in the field:
When men and women in the body of Christ are visibly present and living among the poor (relocation), and when people are intentionally loving their neighbor and their neighbor’s family the way a person loves him or herself and family (reconciliation), the natural outflow is a sharing of resources.
When God’s people with resources (regardless of their race or culture) commit to living in undeserved communities seeking to be good neighbors, being examples of what it means to be a follower of Christ, working for justice for the entire community, and utilizing their skills and resources to address the problems of that community alongside their neighbors, then a sharing of resources is being practiced.
This spirit of sharing brings new skills, new relationships, and new resources and puts them to work to empower the residents of a given community of need to bring about healthy transformation. Christian Community Development ministries harness the commitment and energy of men, women, and young people living in the community, and others who care about their community, and find creative avenues to develop youth, jobs, schools, health centers, home ownership opportunities, and other enterprises of long-term development.
Seeking a just distribution of resources and working for justice in underserved communities contributes greatly to helping people help themselves, which is at the heart of Christian Community Development.
Some of the ways we work to facilitate the sharing resources at Ciudad Nueva
SHARING OF PHYSICAL RESOURCES
Facilities: Ciudad Nueva works with churches in the neighborhood, particularly the Church of St. Clement, to open up significant church and parish school facilities for the use of neighborhood youth after school. St. Clement’s Church and School have generously provided use of a portion of three buildings: a soccer field, a climbing wall, a playground and a meeting hall. These are huge blessings for a community lacking in many of these areas.
Donated Items: Through our youth stores and Christmas store we are able to provide needed items to community members in a dignified and empowering fashion. We are also able to periodically funnel donations of household furniture or appliances to families in the community who are most in need.
SHARING OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Ciudad Nueva solicits funds for all of our programs in order to empower youth, support families, build community, and equip leaders. Through this investment in our community we are able to provide academic assistance, sports programs, arts activities, mentoring programs, youth groups, field trips, scholarships for sports teams, summer camps and community college. Without the investment of those with financial resources, we would not be able to continue the work we are doing in the Rio Grande District.
SHARING OF HUMAN RESOURCES
Mentoring Relationships: The most significant sharing of resources may come through the individual relationships developed at Ciudad Nueva. Mentoring relationships provide supportive, loving friendships that can model an alternate path and provide a beautiful environment for personal and spiritual growth.
Skills: professional skills are used to: complete projects (eg. remodeling or setting up computers), instruct others (eg. photography, mechanics, college readiness), or consult (eg. legal matters, building construction).
Connections with jobs: Many youth have been connected to informal first jobs such as babysitting or yard work through volunteers since very few people in our neighborhood have the money to pay for this work. Likewise, we have helped many youth and adults find jobs in the formal sector through the connections built with caring stakeholders.
NETWORKING AND ADVOCACY
Local: Ciudad Nueva has been able to play an integral role in working with local neighborhood associations to advocate at the city to make infrastructure improvements in the community as well as locate a community recreation center in the neighborhood. Next time you’re visiting the Pat O’Rourke Parks and Recreation Center check out the plaque on the wall in the lobby honoring the community groups that came together to make this center a reality.
Regional/National: Ciudad Nueva staff learns from other practitioners around Texas, the southwest and the nation. In this way the knowledge and expertise of long-term practitioners is shared with our community and helps us dream together of what is possible. We are also able to share with others about what is happening in our own community so they can incorporate what we have learned into their own settings. At times, we are able to join forces with others around the region or country to advocate for changes in the law if we see that these laws are affecting our neighbors adversely.
As you can see, at Ciudad Nueva we look to find ways that we can be part of sharing God’s resources, including an increase of investment in our own under-resourced community, the Rio Grande District. By connecting those in our city who have some of the mentioned resources with those in our community who have less, we are able to multiply opportunities and open up new horizons. Of course, we often end up learning and receiving back more from our relationships than we have actually given. Thank you for walking with us in this exciting venture.