Recently I learned PUMP Works (Portland Urban Ministry Project) is closing at the end of the year after thirteen years of ministry to the Northeast Portland, Oregon community.
I served three summers as an intern for PUMP's summer program for underprivileged children before moving to Portland in 2004 to work full time with the ministry. Together, we developed Micah Project, a year-long internship program for college graduates. Although Micah Project never really got off the ground, it remains one of my proudest accomplishments and the memories of my two years in Portland stay with me always.
Below is a letter to my friends and family at PUMP Works, honoring their legacy. I know the PUMP church of Christ will continue to do good work in the Northeast Portland community, and believe God will continue to bless the faithfulness of all those involved in PUMP Works for years to come.
Dear PUMP Works,
I am saddened to hear you are closing your doors. You are such a part of me. Such a part of the me I've become. It's unimaginable to think of a Northeast Portland in summer without you. It's unimaginable to think of a Woodlawn neighborhood with no homework clubs, no theater clubs, no Bible clubs. It's unimaginable to think of a Portland with no you.
I trust your leadership. I understand. But I simply can't imagine a Portland with no you. I can't imagine you falling into memory.
When we met, I was a fresh-faced babe. I was eager with idealism. I was a lowly college student ready to change the world.
We served three summers together serving children in Northeast Portland - teaching them reading skills, sharing Bible stories, creating crafts, playing at the park and sharing Jesus.
My first year was the year of the paper warehouse. Do you remember how we recreated that old, sullen warehouse into a tarped world of wonderment?
After those three summers, you invited me to stay. (Well I might have nudged my way in, just a bit.)
I moved my possessions and my freshly graduated self to Portland to work with you, to be a part of you.
Together we built Micah Project. Together we dreamed of college graduates doing just what I did, choosing a year of ministry and service and life in Northeast Portland.
Emily came to join us and be a part of us, and it was good. It was good and incredibly hard.
Together we learned about community. Together we learned about being neighborly. Together we learned about family. Together we learned about the hard part of growth. Together we learned about faith and hope.
I cried so many tears over you. I cried so many tears with you.
Leaving you was both one of the hardest and best things I ever did.
I missed you. I miss you. I still think of you often. I say a quiet prayer for you when I do. I say a quiet prayer for the children and families we knew together.
And now it's your turn to leave.
I will probably cry for you again, although I have yet to do so.
I will think of the friendships I formed. Of the family I gained. Of the mentors and life coaches. Of the friends who offered their couches as shelter. Of the children who hugged so huge. Of the tears I wiped away. Of the prayers we prayed. Of the faith we had and the faith we have.
My friend, you are leaving a legacy - a legacy imprinted on hearts across the globe. A legacy imprinted on the hearts of over a thousand children and their families. A legacy imprinted upon the Woodlawn neighborhood and the Northeast Portland community.
Thank you, PUMP Works, for allowing me to be part of your amazing and life changing work. I love you dearly. You are a part of me and a shaper of the me I have become.
Go in faith, hope and love. And remember what you have done for the least of these, you have also done for our Jesus.
In His good name,
If you would like to learn more about PUMP Works and PUMP church of Christ and the amazing work they've been doing in the Northeast Portland community for thirteen years, check out their website at www.PUMP-Works.org.