Monday, January 25, 2010

Ember Philly - Movement, Context, Symbols

Fantastic weekend in Philadelphia as the first Ember Cast engagement. Loved facilitating this kind of experience for a student small group leader at GRACE.

We spent two days and one night in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia as a cultural immersion/service project experience. This weekend was designed around a small student ministry team from a suburban church outside of Baltimore. The Ember Cast facilitated the weekend as guides as well as implementing the weekend between leaders from the student ministry, some trusted hosts and a vision for engaging students to be global leaders. This weekend represented one expression of why Ember exists - to guide students in cultural experiences so they may be catalysts for the Gospel. Emerging leaders in our global context are going to well understand how to navigate world cultures. In this weekend's case, these cultural immersions included the Chinese and homeless cultures.

Here are some of the details - as always, feel free to take what you want.


: interns and I met LT for dinner - freshly handmade noodles.
: Chinatown observation : what is common in that subculture, what is different from where I come from?
: settle for the night in a small apartment, 16 of us with one bathroom.
: serve at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission - mopping, sweeping, serving or preparing food, most time and energy spent sorting food warehouse.
: lunch at underground Chinese supermarket.
: Chinatown observation in the daylight.
: hang with Joy Fellowship - CCCNC youth ministry.
: Joy Fel hosts us on a photo scavenger hunt throughout the city.
: youth worker ideation share - why Ember, rapport with families of students, what our respective ministries look like.
: cheesesteaks for dinner.
: decompression of the weekend.
: Chris Marlow sharing about social entrepreneurship, global poverty and living an extraordinary life.
: drive home - great decompression with the interns.


: what does it infer about a community when there is a huge mass transit hub there?
: our three themes for the weekend: movement [the Gospel and God's people move], context [your context matters], symbols [what is important in this culture].
: 60% of north chinatown is unused space.
: CCCNC was started by an American college aged girl who wanted to reach the chinese
: Chinatown - most culturally immersive environment I've taken student teams to yet.
: migration - Chinese they move into Chinatown but move out as they can.
: most restaurant workers are now no longer Chinese but Hispanic.
: not just for Chinese - lots of immigrants in this part of the city.
: city actually put up physical parameters for Chinatown.

The interns did great, of course. This weekend was almost as much for them as for the student team. My goal for them was to help with really running the whole thing and to see a project like this from up close - from dream to execution to feedback. And loved that they could spend a good amount of time getting to know LT and hearing his perspective.
Two highlights I loved hearing from them:
1 - They felt like they were actually leading, especially when it came to running some of the decompression discussions and the youth leader sharing session.
2 - They understand that a major component of leadership development is the selection and identification of emerging leaders. They were already doing this all weekend by asking, "Who is getting it?"


Some amazing hosts made this happen - none of this would have worked without LT and Chinese Christian Church and Center. LT and I met via twitter [yes, believe it.] and then face to face at Idea Camp DC. We've been looking for a way to collaborate and this weekend was a great team project. Also, special thanks to Chris Marlow for sharing about HELP and for Todd Hiestand for hanging.

Here is the twitter stream - note there are a variety of people writing in here. - you'll have to find the links yourself.
tonytsheng : @ChrisMarlow dude thanks for sharing with our students - loved what you said - you've helped prep them for an extraordinary life! 10:22 AM Jan 24th
tonytsheng : Great ember weekend wow. And my dad came home from hospital. Full 2 days. 11:38 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : intense, unexpected, totally crucial conversation on the way home from Philly. God is so much bigger than we can imagine... so should we ... 11:08 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Amazing decompress with the interns on the way home. I am lucky. 11:03 PM Jan 23rd
chrismarlow : Great to meet @TonyTSheng, and share with his group! Hang with @LaurenceTom and eat cheessteaks w/ @toddhiestand! 10:58 PM Jan 23rd
laurencetom : Love @ChrisMarlow. He killed it tonight w 9mins on the clock speaking to the EmberCast team about @HELPendPOVERTY and fresh off the plane! 10:04 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Final element with @chrismarlow talking abou help. @toddheistand is in the house too. 8:21 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Ember interns leading decompress. One of the fun parts. 8:00 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : - Standing in line at Tony Luke's for a cheesesteak... this line is ridiculous! 7:14 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : @charlestlee learned from the best =) 7:11 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : got 3rd place in the photo scavenger hunt but had a philly cheesesteak, saw the Liberty bell and Independence hall... worth it. 6:36 PM Jan 23rd
charlestlee : @TonyTSheng love how ur using words like "ideation" :-) 6:30 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Youth leader ideation. Now cheesesteaks. 6:28 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Photo scav hunt around Philly with Chinese youth group telling tem I'm too old to run 2:35 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : so good @tonytsheng definitely a good call haha 1:19 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : @TrevinHoekzema delicious and you? 1:11 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : Hey @tonytsheng howd you like the beef with greens veg on rice? 1:03 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : Great lunch at "Tasty Place" in the Chinese market. Love me some rice. 1:01 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Lunch at underground Chinese market. 12:19 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : RT @TonyTSheng: Tour of Sunday breakfast rescue mission. Amazing story of migration. And crazy facility. (hope it rocks these guys) 11:23 AM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Tour of Sunday breakfast rescue mission. Amazing story of migration. And crazy facility. 11:13 AM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : - organizing food shelves at a homeless kitchen in Philly @theembercast 7:55 AM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Sunday breakfast mission. On an early sat morning. 6:39 AM Jan 23rd
laurencetom : Now there's 16 of them crammed into a small apartment in Chinatown for the night. Can't wait to see them in the morning. 10:45 PM Jan 22nd
laurencetom : Just brought over a dozen teens from the suburbs of Maryland to walk around Philly Chinatown tonight and make cultural observations. 10:43 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : Culture activity : id common and different artifacts. 8:05 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : Dinner in china town with ember interns and @laurencetom lots of noodles 7:20 PM Jan 22nd
trevinhoekzema : Philly trip with the Dteam guys, organized by @theembercast - missions minded weekend to develop future revolutionaries. 6:03 PM Jan 22nd
laurencetom : Expecting a weekend full of opportunities w hosting mashup of @TonyTSheng of EmberCast x @ChrisMarlow of @helpendpoverty 3:17 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : After a wicked am in hospital interns and I are off for first ember cast weekend 2:39 PM Jan 22nd

Thanks for reading the update. More photos here. If you or a collection of students would be interested in something like this, feel free to get in touch.

PS - My dad came home from the hospital on Saturday. Good news, thanks for praying.


  1. so, I've been meaning to ask:: cheesesteak - with or without cheese?

  2. Italian sausage sandwich for me. you know cheese gives me....