Milwaukee Urban Plunge
Every March, InterVarsity students from the UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even the Dakotas travel to spend their spring break learning and serving in inner-city Milwaukee. This year’s Milwaukee Urban Plunge (MUP) focused on answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Through studies of passage like Luke 4:14-30 (Jesus rejected in Nazareth), Mark 5 (Jesus healing three people), Luke 10 (the good Samaritan), and Matthew 25 (the sheep and the goats), students encountered how Jesus saw and interacted with the marginalized, and how we are called to do the same. We were then sent out to work sites to respond to the scripture in tangible ways, serving local ministries in whatever way they needed.
My group served at the Scott Christian Youth Center, started by Mother Scott in 1974. Since then, it has become a ministry hub in its neighborhood, serving two free meals a day, offering free clothing to those in need, and being home to a local church.
Before leaving the first time to our work site, we were told by the MUP director to expect a slower pace; if we don’t actually accomplish anything our first day at Scott CYC, that’s okay.
Having adjusted to the slower pace of life when we lived in Bolivia, I wasn’t too concerned, although the students’ first day there was a challenge for them. We did a little bit of work sorting and organizing clothing, but spent a good chunk of the time just sitting and talking with each other, and then Mother Scott, the highly-respected matriarch of the ministry.
Over our four days (we spent about 4 hours there each day), I noticed the students becoming progressively more comfortable with our site. Each day we did some work (cleaning out their cooler and cutting 50+ pounds of carrots and zucchini, for example), but a large part of our time there was spent talking with the people that worked/volunteered there and those that came for the meals. For the students, each day seemed better than the last as they started taking more initiative (and needed less prodding) to talk with those that were there.
As we debriefed at the end of the week, students felt more confident in identifying and seeking out the marginalized on their own campuses, learning their stories and loving them as Christ commands us.