For as long as I can remember, my family has been involved in urban ministry. Both of my grandparents were missionaries in Los Angeles, California, and my aunt has been a missionary with World Impact for over thirty years. My parents are both elementary school teachers and have spent a lot of time ministering to families that often fall below the poverty line. As a result, I have grown up with a big heart for people in the urban core who are often so busy trying to survive that they do not have time to worry about the God who created them and is trying so desperately to love them.
Sterling College is probably not the best fit for a lot of Urban Ministry majors. Sterling, Kansas is a very small rural community, and these traits generally do not apply to the urban core. To combat this problem, Urban Ministry majors spend a semester in Denver, Colorado with a ministry called Mile High Ministry. Denver, Colorado is a thriving city that is full of diversity and people who need to know that they have a Savior.
When I first got to Denver, I immediately met my nine housemates, my house parents, and was put through a week of orientation. I was told to always walk with a purpose, to know where I was going and not just meander, and to be cautious after dark. However, I was also taught to constantly be praying and looking for ways to serve others. The other students and I were quickly initiated into the city; we did things like take a tour of places where the city has made it more difficult for the homeless population to live, but we also were led to find the beauty of the city and see where God is clearly working.
My housemates and I were each assigned to different internships to work at part time for the summer. We had people working with refugees, at homeless shelters, with youth, and with health clinics, to name a few places. I worked at Second Chances, a thrift store that hired women who were going through a rough time in life and really needed someone to give them a second chance at life. Over the course of the summer I heard stories about how these women had been abused, about jail time, drug use, and hard times with family. I was able to love on these women and quickly learned that just because I had had a more stable life did not mean that I knew Jesus any more than these women did. They prayed for me and encouraged me throughout the summer and helped me grow in my faith.
Throughout the summer I also took classes on many different topics. These varied from how to avoid vicarious trauma to practicing parts of the six church traditions to learning about our enneagram and our Myers Briggs personality types. A lot of what we did was learning about other cultures; we went to a Greek festival, toured different neighborhoods and looked at different types of churches, and had a class about hipster culture. We were required to visit five different types of churches that ranged from charismatic to sacramental to social justice. My classes were incredibly valuable, and I used the knowledge throughout the summer and will continue to do so.
The students that I lived with were all very different from each other, and from me. To be completely honest, had we not been Christians and actively prayed for the Holy Spirit to be with us, I would have not been surprised if we had all killed each other by the end of the summer. I now understand those shows on MTV where people are forced to live together and things go crazy. However, somehow we managed to come together after being thrown into what was a new city for many of us and put into stressful jobs and classes. I grew to love each of these new people and am very thankful for the friendships that formed out of our living together.
Overall, it was very clear that God was using my time in Denver to help me grow in Him and be able to better understand my surroundings and do urban ministry. I hope that I will continue to use the knowledge that I gained and better be able to help people as they seek Jesus.
Tori Krehbiel is a junior at Sterling College. She is double majoring in Christian Ministries with a focus in Urban Ministry and Psychology. She loves watching movies, reading, and corn. Especially creamed corn and corn casserole.