Interview with Matt McComas
For the last several years, students from Cru Winter Conference /// Portland have visited Rockwood, on the east side of the city, as part of their Day of Outreach. While only a short train ride away, it’s miles away from what more college students experience in their daily lives. In the words of the Rockwoods Community Development president, “”[Rockwoods is] Oregon’s poorest, least evangelized, most violent community. There’s an amazing international presence in Rockwood, a presence that doesn’t know Jesus.
We asked Matt McComas, a Cru staff member based in Portland, to share a few things about this strategic partnership.
Q. Tell us about your relationship with Portland and the RCDC. How did it begin and then develop?
A: The relationship between Cru and the CDC is about is good as it get’s. We (Cru) have really sought a long term approach with them and an open handed posture. We’re there to serve and to leverage the resources (people, time, money) to accelerate their mission. They know best so we’re happy to come under their leadership. The partnership began through a random meeting between me and Kevin Palau at our Cru13 conference. He sent a request out to all of his network and Brad responded to the opportunity of mobilizing 500+ volunteers at our winter conference. The partnership has looked like us providing manpower where appropriate at different times throughout the year. Spring break trip, summer mission, etc.. They’ve also invited some of our staff members to help train local pastors to follow up contacts from the day of outreach.
Q: How do winter conference attendees serve the Rockwoods residents?
A: This was a good summary of the first Rockwood Knocks we did. http://cityservepdx.org/happenings/stories/item/students-knock-rockwood-answers.
Q: What are some of the main benefits that you and the community have experienced as you have built this partnership?
A: It’s opened a lot of our eyes to the needs within our own city and created opportunities to ministry in different cultural contexts that otherwise we wouldn’t. It’s been a catalyst for unity amongst the Christian churches and organization in that area of the city. It’s been amazing..
Q: How have students responded to this community activity?
A: Students have loved it. The general feel is that they’re super motivated to be a part of something long term rather than just a drive-by tactic.
Q: What were Rockwood CDC’s goals? What were some of your goals entering into this partnership? Were they met (all or partially)
A: We had no goals with the specific partnership other than to find an opportunity for our winter conference attendee’s to do good and have a chance to share the gospel….any more specific agenda of goals would have limited the ability to forge a partnership.
Impact: We are committed to leaving a positive impact on our world. What does that look like? How do we do that both individually and together? How can we leave a legacy that isn’t about making a name for ourselves, but about making God’s love known. These are themes we will continue to explore, learn, and share at Cru Winter Conference. If you attend our conferences you will find we are so committed to this, we take an entire afternoon out of our weekend to spend on the ground, in the neighborhoods of our respective cities.