Recently, while on a flight to a speaking engagement, a flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and moved me to first class. When I asked why, he said, “Years ago I was a ‘lost’ teenager in Camden, New Jersey, and through your EAPE programs I came to know Christ and have my life turned around, and this is just a way to say ‘thank you.’”
It was 35 years ago that EAPE started ministries in Camden. In those early days we ran after-school programs for children at the Rosedale Baptist Church and at Hope Baptist Church, along with summer day camp programs at several other church locations. Ten years later one of our young EAPE workers, Bruce Main, took the helm of our Camden programs and made it into an independent and self-supporting ministry known as UrbanPromise.
Under Bruce’s leadership, UrbanPromise has expanded dramatically. Consider the following:
- It now has a campus in Camden that includes an elementary, middle and high school, housing for work groups and interns, a gym for sports programs, and a worship center.
- With a full time staff of 55 assisted by 70 interns (mostly recruited from Christian colleges) and 100 street leaders (high school students who have been spiritually and socially nurtured in UrbanPromise Programs), they serve hundreds of children and teenagers from “at-risk” neighborhoods, daily and year-round.
- The ministries in Camden have been turned over to the very able leadership of Jodina Hicks, who once served as an intern with Urban Promise and later as a staff member. This has freed up Bruce to organize extensive new Urban Promise ministries and strengthen existing programs. Today you can find UrbanPromise in Trenton, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; Miami, Florida; Vancouver and Toronto, Canada; Malawi, and Honduras, making UrbanPromise ministries international in scope.
On September 27th UrbanPromise will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special banquet featuring Diane Sawyer as the keynote speaker. Ms. Sawyer has been a guest of UrbanPromise before and featured their work in Camden in her 2007 special report for ABC News program, 20/20.
Giving birth to Urban Promise is one of EAPE’s most notable achievements and we celebrate their 25 years of hard, but glorious service for Christ and His Kingdom.
Given EAPE’s many accomplishments, of which UrbanPromise is but one, you can understand why I’m not reluctant to ask you to give generously, so that we can continue to birth ministries and provide support for up-and-coming new leaders, such as Bruce and Jodina.
We can’t do this without you. Help us all you can!