Photos: Dr. Bruce Main addresses students at chapel; Dr. Joanne Roberts and Melissa Milliorn with Main
“If God is a God of justice, then what is he doing about the
injustice in the world?” quizzed Dr. Bruce Main of students gathered for
Hardin-Simmons University’s weekly chapel. Main, the founder and president of
Urban Promise in Camden, New Jersey, related to students an inspired question
originated by Main’s friend Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice
Mission. “Haugen asked an audience during a speech, ‘What’s God’s plan to make
it believable to the world that God is good?’ He then looked at the audience, paused,
and said emphatically, ‘You are the
plan. There is no other plan. You are
Started in the basement of a Baptist church in 1988, Main’s
ministry was born out of the New Jersey community’s need to address the
problems of intergenerational poverty and the incarceration of youth. The
organization’s influence has now spread to cities across the United States,
Canada, South America, and Africa.
The relationship between HSU and Urban Promise began a few
years ago when Dr. Joanne Roberts, head of the HSU Department of Sociology,
began showing her urban sociology students the Diane Sawyer special on Camden,
New Jersey, one of the most impoverished and violent cities in the country.
That led Roberts and Melissa Milliorn, head of HSU’s social work department, to
create a May Term course to instruct and inform students about Christian
community renewal. The course included a weeklong trip to Camden for the
students and faculty to work with Urban Promise.
Main’s chapel message, of people working as God’s hands and
feet, emboldened a handful of students to inquire about working with the organization.
“I responded to the thought that we
are the answer to what God will do,” said Tanner Rice, a ministry junior from
Burnet, Texas. Currently working as a youth minister at First Baptist Church of
Blackwell, Texas, Rice will be a part of Dr. Rob Sellers's cultural studies
class in the Logsdon School of Theology that leaves for Indonesia this summer.
“I like people and learning to understand other cultures,” said Rice. “I am only
able to go to school on loans that I will repay by myself,” said Rice, “but I
am way over-privileged compared to much of the world. I want to relate to people
and be involved with their needs and struggles.”
Main was also at HSU to speak to Roberts’s urban sociology
class and met with students in HSU’s social work club. “Our students’ immersion and service learning
experience with Urban Promise has led to an ongoing relationship between the
Social Work Program and the Sociology Department to include future plans for
another May Term travel course with Urban Promise,” said Milliorn. She says
Main’s ministry offers a great deal of potential in internship opportunities
for social work majors at HSU.