I know we’re all thankful that our Memphis summer was more on the mild side, but it’s always nice to transition into fall and enjoy what the new season brings.

As we look back on summer, we are blessed to see much to celebrate about international missions at Christ Church, and we are sharing those stories!

In case you missed it, click here to read a testimony from Rachel Jacques about her time with CUMC team in Brazil. And watch for the last post in this series coming up soon, which will be about Africa.

You may have already heard about the largest team ever from CUMC that journeyed to Ensenada, Mexico this past summer. You can read about it on the Blog here. 120 CUMC members and friends built eight houses for families in need and led VBS activities for many of the children in their communities.

CUMC team in Ensenada, Mexico in June

CUMC team in Ensenada, Mexico in June

What also made this international trip unique is how it intersected with some of the local involvement of CUMC in Binghampton.

Randy Freeman, PJ McGhee, Octavius Nickson, and Joshua Tedesco are a group of men who have all gone through the Job Training program at the Binghampton Development Corporation.

The Job Training program comes under the BDC’s work in property development, which since 2003 has renovated 79 housing units and constructed 15 new houses, all for the sake of blight removal (which is one of the most important ways to drive out neighborhood crime) and in order to foster affordable homeownership.

The Job Training program allows the BDC to use acquired blighted property as the experiential classroom for the young men who are working to transform blight into good, affordable homes, and who are also learning about financial stability and Christian discipleship.

Randy Freeman, Octavius Nickson, Joshua Tedesco, and PJ McGhee

Randy Freeman, Octavius Nickson, Joshua Tedesco, and PJ McGhee

Having graduated the program, Randy currently serves as a Job Training supervisor at the BDC, PJ recently served at the BDC as Assistant Property Manager, Octavius is a Job Superintendent for Wagner General Contractors here in Memphis, and Joshua now works at Providential Fabricators here in Memphis.

I got a chance to talk to Josh recently since he attends worship here at Christ Church, and his story is a great illustration of the value of the organizations Christ Church chooses to partner with.

Josh came to Memphis after serving time in prison in Nashville related to a drugs and alcohol problem. It was through Josh’s time in prison that God worked to reveal to him in a powerful, vivid way that he had actually been imprisoned all of his life to things that should not have had control of him. “In surrendering my life to God in prison,” Josh says, “I became more free than ever.”

Octavius Nickson, BDC Job Training graduate

Octavius Nickson, BDC Job Training graduate

After prison Josh came to Forgiveness House here in Memphis, a halfway house which serves men leaving incarceration who are making their way back into society. It was through his time at Forgiveness House that Josh went to a worship service at Jacob’s Well.

Jacob’s Well is a church community which bridges racial, economic and cultural backgrounds and is an important local missions partner of CUMC. Josh met Jamey Lee, the pastor of Jacob’s Well, asked him where he worked. This led to Jamey recommending the BDC Job Training program. Josh entered the program, graduated this past March, and soon gained his current job at Providential Fabricators shortly after returning from Mexico.

I’m so glad I got a chance to hear Josh’s story directly, because he is obviously so grateful to God and to the people that he has met here in Memphis that have helped his life become what it is now. He is joyful that he now anticipates a hopeful, bright future ahead of him. If you see Josh, I’m sure he’d be more than happy to tell you personally about his journey.

Take the opportunity to learn more about the Binghampton Development Corporation and Jacob’s Well. We are so pleased to partner with organizations like these that do such important work for the kingdom of God in our city.

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