UPW’s Site Director of Camp Victory, Josh Gregor, shares a compelling story of a recent experience on the streets of Wilmington. Enjoy this letter from a key member of the UrbanPromise leadership team.
~ Rob Prestowitz, Executive Director
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. ~Matthew 5:9
My fellow UP staff member, Charles, and I stood on Clifford Brown Walk, after a sobering news article alerted me to the overnight fire on our student’s block. When we arrived, a tense crowd of 10 or 15 men were in front of the burned out houses (thankfully, not the home of our campers, Stephanie and Jamere).
“You could have done something!” someone shouted. We could see the tension escalating as grief became blame. “Why didn’t you do something? How could you just sit there?” The angry shouts escalated to flying fists.
“Let’s go.” Reading my mind, Charles’ words spurred us to cross the street. We put ourselves in the middle of the crowd to protect the man who was being accused. I felt acutely aware of my weakness as the group turned their anger on us. “Who are you two? Mind your own business and get out of here!”
Just then, a small, yet firm voice called out from down the block. “That’s UrbanPromise, they’re church people, they work with the kids!” There was an immediate effect. The mood began to change, the crowd started to disperse, peace began to settle.
Who was the peacemaker? 70-year old Ms. Jones, who has lived on that block for decades. She knew the victims of the fire and had known the men who were fighting since they were toddlers. She demonstrated a deep love for all who were hurting, and commanded their respect. She put her arm around the most combative man and shared that she understood why he was mourning and frustrated, but that he couldn’t take it out on people who are trying to help. In that moment, I saw Ms. Jones’s faith in Jesus shine through her every word and action.
Though the fighting stopped, the grief and pain remained. My response was a seemingly feeble offer of prayer. Immediately, on the sidewalk, Ms. Jones gathered us and others involved in the fighting. Her prayer for healing in the family and community was powerful, not feeble.
She is a partner in peace, representing the Prince of Peace.
Ms. Jones, Charles, you – we are all partners in peace. I’m inviting you to financially partner with UrbanPromise at the end of this year as we seek the peace of Jesus in Wilmington. Accept our invitation and invest in the practical and relational peacemakers working in the stressed, under-resourced neighborhoods of Wilmington. Pray with us and Ms. Jones as we share the full and abundant life of Christ through our work.
$2,500 covers the salary for one month of an UrbanPromise peacemaker like Charles. You can keep six UrbanPromise staff warm this winter in our East Side staff house (one block from the fire and fight) with a gift of $1,000. Trauma from isolation and violence is impacting Wilmington’s youth. $500 provides fun, positive activities for 20 kids at Camp Victory on the East side where Charles and I lead. The 15- passenger van that gets our kids to camp costs $100 to fuel. Can you give $250 to send our kids to the National Zoo?
It was truly a miracle to see the fight turn to prayer and the anger turn to peace. Your monthly gifts and year end giving will amplify the voices of peacemakers throughout Wilmington.
Joshua R. Gregor
Camp Victory Director
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Delaware Giving Number: 9519 | Southeastern PA Giving Number: 16420