Westmont Magazine Westmont in the City
Like Potter’s Clay and other campus ministries, “Spring Break in the City” began with a student vision. Julie Jesson ’98 and Matt Sather ’99 desired to serve God by helping people in the inner city. As co-leaders of “Urban Outreach,” a Christian Concerns program, they put together a new, week-long ministry in the Los Angeles area. About 30 students participated in the inaugural program last semester.
Two chapel speakers involved in urban ministry, Carol Houston and Derek Perkins, helped develop the outreach. Pastor Houston, who is a Westmont trustee, invited the students to stay with members of her church, Bethel Unspeakable Joy Christian Fellowship in Watts. The students enjoyed fellowship and worship with the congregation and helped to teach Sunday School.
Derek Perkins, executive director of the Harambee Center in Pasadena, involved students in several ways. In addition to doing cleaning and yard work at the Center, they met with Derek and his assistant, Rudy Carrasco, to discuss urban issues. The group also tutored some of the children who come to Harambee for mentoring and help.
Two Westmont alums, Steve and Jenny Halvorsen Wiebe ’89, run another tutoring program in Pasadena called Kid’s Club, and a number of students participated in this ministry as well. A group also spent several mornings at the Los Angeles Rescue Mission serving breakfast and observing the program there.
“It was exciting to see God work and answer prayer,” Julie Jesson noted. “We watched an abstract idea take flesh and become a reality, and we were so encouraged when 30 people decided to participate. It’s rewarding to see how the trip has affected these students and increased their interest in ministry.”
Julie grew up near Pasadena, attended Lake Avenue Congregational Church, and volunteered at the Rescue Mission as a high school student. A semester with the San Francisco Urban Program and experience as a teacher’s aide at an inner-city school heightened her interest in urban ministry.
A social science major who graduated in May, Julie won the Dave Dolan award for inspiring students to become aware of and respond to social and spiritual needs.