We are continuing our blog series about 2nd Mile: Binghampton and Christ Church’s commitment to the community of Binghampton, which is perhaps the most important facet of how we love Jesus by loving like Jesus in our city.
The series corresponds to each following weekend’s worship services, featuring the live testimonies of CUMC members who have been serving at these ministries. They will be sharing with us their stories of how they came to be involved, and they will tell us why these ministries are so valuable.
Click here for the previous post featuring an introduction to 2nd Mile: Binghampton, and member testimonies from Jennifer Parris and Frank Cantrell who have given their time to serve at Cornerstone Prep.
This Sunday, we will hear from Christ Church members Tammy Porter and Jenny Valle, who have both given of their time to serve at The Carpenter Art Garden. The Carpenter Art Garden is supported by the Binghampton Development Corporation, one of our affiliated ministries, who is building a new Purple House right next to the Art Garden through its Jobs Training Program. The House will be used for an indoor space to do arts and crafts, kitchen, offices, computer lab, and more.
The goal of 2nd Mile for the Art Garden is to furnish the interior of the Purple House to get it ready to use!
Testimony from Tammy Porter
When I heard about the Garden, I loved the idea of turning a desolate area of Binghampton in to a place of beauty where children could be creative and be exposed to art. It wasn’t until I visited the Garden that I saw the impact it was having — not just on the children but on the community.
You can see the excitement and joy in the children and how much they LOVE coming to the garden. But you can also see transformation in the children — in their behavior, confidence and potential.
We work on art for the Garden and for the children to take home, but we have also developed small groups where we have Bible studies, and we have shared all types of outside art experiences — field trips, tutoring, comic clubs, planting gardens.
We are there to assist them in their work, but all of this is done by the children, and they gain a real sense of ownership and pride in their community as a result.
Before the Garden came to Carpenter Street, there were people who didn’t leave their home or know their neighbors. Now they are coming together in the Garden and building relationships.
The Garden is part of God’s plan.
Invitations were not sent out, and there were no flyers or knocking on doors.
The children just came.
They helped to establish the rules of the Garden and they follow them because they want to continue coming. It was no coincidence that the idea, the community, the BDC, the lot, and the Purple House next door all came together so beautifully. There are families in the neighborhood right next to us that are struggling and have no one to turn to. God is calling us to help stop the cycle and make changes in our city.
The Garden has changed my heart and humbled me in ways I have never felt before. I have gotten to know and love the families in Binghampton, and I am blessed to be welcomed in to their neighborhood and lives. I truly believe we were all called to this beautiful Garden to serve and be the hand and feet of Jesus.
Matthew 18:20: Where ever two are more are gathered in my name I am among them.
Testimony from Jenny Valle
For many years of my life, I have felt a pull to work with children in in the inner city. I had never really found a way to get involved and had begun intentionally praying that the Lord would lead me to a place where I could serve.
One day in November of 2012, I received an invitation from a fellow CUMC friend to attend an information meeting about the Carpenter Art Garden. My husband and I went and when we left that meeting, I could barely contain my excitement — it was crystal clear that the Lord had brought me there that night and that the Garden was where He was calling me to serve.
Over the past eighteen months, the children of the Art Garden have worked their way into my heart and my life. For many years, I drove right past Tillman Street unaware of the substantial pain and struggles the children in that neighborhood were feeling. I know now from firsthand experience how great those needs are.
It has been amazing to see how the Art Garden has provided children and their families a place of peace and joy amidst their broken situations. The Garden’s consistent presence in the neighborhood gives the children who live there a safe place to be creative and to receive encouragement, instruction, and support.
By building relationships, we have been able to share the gospel with our friends and begin to address some of the complex issues associated with living in a largely impoverished neighborhood. It has been a joy to share the familiar stories of the Bible that many of us know so well and cannot imagine never having heard, like the many stories of Jesus, and of Christmas and Easter. Thanks to the friendships being nurtured, many students have been able to hear the Good News.
Last summer, the Art Garden was able to sponsor several children to attend SOS during the CUMC week. The kids were thrilled to serve their community alongside their new friends from CUMC. During that time, four of our friends made a commitment to the Lord and were the first ever students to be baptized at SOS!
The Lord is truly at work in Binghampton. He continues to call on us to be His hands and feet to do His work in our city.