University Students Gain Experience in Urban Mission
The City of Camden, New Jersey was featured in a 2007 documentary with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20. In the documentary, the famous news anchor reveals the heartbreaking realities people face in what many refer to as “the poorest city in America.”
For the past 10 years, Tyndale’s Leading Edge program has partnered with Urban Promise Toronto to provide students with practical exposure in urban ministry. At the end of their final semester, university students travel to Camden through a partnership between Urban Promise Toronto and Urban Promise Camden for a one-week urban outreach mission. This year, the trip will take place from April 26 to May 3.
“Urban Promise Camden is right across the river from Philadelphia,” says Dr. Daniel Wong, Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries and Director of Modular Programs at Tyndale University College. “The ministry was a vision of Tony Campolo, an internationally known American pastor, who lives in Philadelphia and saw the needs of the community across the river who were facing high-crime and poverty rates.”
Students will be stationed at Camden Forward School, a Christian elementary and middle school (kindergarten through eighth grade) that was started by Urban Promise Camden in 1997. Once there, students will serve in a variety of capacities from administrative assistance, encouraging kids through play, to aiding teachers in day-to-day work to helping with after-school programs and any other needs that might arise.
While serving at the school, students will get a tour of the community – where vacant and graffiti-covered buildings line the streets – and will worship at a local church on Sunday.
Tyndale’s partnership with Urban Promise Toronto has been fruitful, seeing multiple Tyndale alumni join the organization. Currently, Jeremy Reurich [MDiv 2017], is the Intern Director. Julius Naredo [BA 2009], serves as the Supervisor of Camp Freedom – a children’s ministry in the Jane and Finch area of Toronto. Shawn James [BRE 2004] is a Community Director and Christine Lee [MDiv 2000] serves as Supervisor of Family Support.
Dr. Wong says that the Certificate in Christian Studies – Leading Edge Track is a great one-year program that helps students integrate academics with urban ministry experience. “Approximately 80 per cent of students who enter into university at Tyndale through the Leading Edge program continue on to a degree program– whether planned or not,” says Dr. Wong.
The program sees on average about 15 students enrolled in the program from year to year, and through their experience, many students have gone on to serve in leadership roles during their time at Tyndale and in their communities after graduation. “We want to make sure we cultivate leadership in these students during their time here as well,” says Dr. Wong.
Please join us in praying for our Leading Edge students as they begin their journey.