Los Angeles -- The first Urban Project for LaFe (Latino Fellowship), a project under InterVarsity, which was designed to focus on systemic injustice, injustice that is inherent in institutions was set up at UCLA and the campus ministry has already experienced miracles working through them.
James Perereo, who participated in the project shares a story about the hardships they went through starting from finding the housing to getting involved with the ministry, El Rescate (The Rescue) where they planned to work during the summer.
Perereo wrote in the article he wrote about the experience, “I was literally going door-to-door, trying to explain in broken Spanish to whatever apartment managers I could find why they should rent two apartments for only five weeks. Time was running out. Would the project even get started if we couldn’t find housing?”
Through an unexpected encounter with a man who was sweeping in the front of his house, Perereo met Dan, a manager of an apartment near where El Rescate was. Amazed by what Perereo and his group of members are doing, he was generous enough to easily rent out a place for them.
“No application. No credit check. No cash up front. Ultimately it cost half of what we had budgeted, and only four blocks from El Rescate (The Rescue), the ministry we planned to work with during the summer,” Perereo explained.
El Rescate was founded by Salvation refugees and a group of churches in response to the Salvadoran crisis during 1981, this group works to meet the real needs of Pico-Union’s immigrant community in Los Angeles.
Urban Project team helped organizing an international conference ran by El Rescate last September at USA and helped out primarily Central American immigrants in the community. When they were off from work, they devoted themselves to Bible studies, prayer, discussing history and theology.
“As our summer mission ended, I had the What-does-it-mean? moment. But I couldn’t believe it was over. I wondered, “Did we achieve our goals?” Perereo wrote recalling the wonderful experience.
“Once again I’ve realized that helping young adults grow into mature disciples of Jesus, who are committed to community, prayer and justice, is way bigger than a five-week project. But I did realize how important prayer is, that prayer brings meaning, healing, and hope to these challenges,” Perereo wrote, “God miraculously found us project housing as we persisted in prayerful action. And prayer will sustain us in the long struggle to be and make disciples who work for justice on behalf of the poor in the nation’s urban areas.”
What is an Urban Project?
Urban projects are ministry experiences which we run in nearly 30 major American cities each spring and summer. Some are just a week long (we call these "plunges"), usually over spring break. Others are two weeks long (we call these "short projects"), starting right after finals. But most are from 5-8 weeks long (these are actual "internships"), usually beginning mid-June. Each of the projects share common elements (e.g., service opportunities, scripture study, worship, etc.) but are different in specific format. They nearly all share a common commitment to teaching certain values, such as exploring issues such as justice, poverty, racism, racial reconciliation, violence, lifestyle, biblical community, and the ministry of the urban church.
In one way or another these projects are all attempting to show you the needs of the urban poor, to let you experience the amazing strength, beauty and resilience of those who are oppressed, and to connect you to individuals, agencies and churches that are making a difference in the city. These projects are designed to help you "seek the shalom of the city." Jer. 29:7