Why do we have the SOS Academy?

Saturday, August 29. Travel to Memphis and move in to new home in Binghampton, where I am greeted by Academy directors. Meet my new roommates for the year. Unpack boxes and bags. I've done this so many times over the past few years. Sunday, August 30. Worship with a local church and get to know my fellow interns. Purchase some basic kitchen necessities. Keep unpacking.

Monday, August 31. Meet at SOS to head out on a 24 hour retreat. Head downtown for pizza at Aldo's and then onto a mystery location at Horseshoe Lake, Arkansas. Lots of laughter, shared meals, sharing testimonies, fixing our gaze on Christ, playing games and setting a course for the year.

Tuesday, September 1. End our retreat by attending the Choose901 Redbirds game along with many other non-profits and ministries in Memphis. Thanks, City Leadership!

Wednesday, September 2. A welcome dinner with a taco bar - yum! - where we get to meet some more of the SOS staff and friends of SOS.

Thursday, September 3. A full day of orientation to the SOS Academy and our ministry placements at the Binghampton Development Corporation, World Relief, Su Casa and at SOS.

Friday, September 4. Getting acquainted with the sites, scenes, smells and tastes of Memphis on day long a scavenger hunt.

Tuesday, September 8. First day of our internships! I'm tired...

Wednesday, September 9. Our first of weekly family meals - this week at the Kings' house. It's nice to sit around the table together, to laugh, to share stories from our day, to remember we are in this together.

Friday, September 11. Our weekly Academy day for team prayer, Biblical overview class and Reading Group. For our first meeting today, we talk about the Big Story picture of the Bible - Creation, Fall, Redemption & Consummation. Then we had some discussion about our first readings from Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. We will discuss a host of books covering themes of spiritual formation, cross-cultural ministry, vocation, poverty and community development.

Join us in welcoming Kayley Collins, McKenna Duncan, Yasmeen Khan, Cassidy Pogue, Zach Pappas and Tyler Parker! Our interns hail from six different cities in five different states. The above was a sample travel journal of the first couple weeks from their experience. We're thrilled to have another wonderful group of young adults who are eagerly expectant to join with Christ in his reconciling work here in Memphis. 

Did you know that this year's six interns join are a part of a history of 58 Academy alumni since 2006? Thirty-eight of these alumni are currently living and/or serving full-time in an under-resourced neighborhood of Memphis, TN.

IMG_20150911_160741So, why do we have the Academy? Why do we welcome young adults to join us for a year long plunge into urban life and ministry? The large majority of our interns are fresh out of college. However, a few, such as one of this year's class choose to take a mid-study break. Regardless, Academy interns typically come to us with a "gap year" mindset, as they are seeking to fan the flames of interest and concern for ministry among the materially poor, marginalized and oppressed who are concentrated in urban settings. With youthful vigor, curiosity and a bent toward the downward mobility of Christ, interns come to us hungry to know Christ more and how to vocationally express his heart toward neglected peoples. They are curious about this God who would lay down his crown of glory in exchange for a crown of thorns, the God who made himself poor in order that we might be rich, the God who identifies himself with the poor.

From our perspective, we are eager to envision, equip and catalyze young adults into a lifetime of God-glorifying, Gospel-driven fruitfulness among the materially poor, the disenfranchised and the unreached. Our mission is to equip 19-26 year olds to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God in an urban context. We train them to be sent into the work of demonstrating the Gospel through serving the least of these in various corners of our world.

We increasingly - with awe and gratitude - are seeing a platform in which God has provided us to come along side young servant leaders and encourage, train and connect them as we fulfill our calling to partner with homeowners in Binghampton, the Heights & Orange Mound neighborhoods as we simultaneously partner with a tremendous collaborative network of churches and ministries in our city who are humbly seeking to demonstrate God's grace and justice for the materially poor.

It's the grace of God which compels us and the commission of our Lord which sends us into the work of "making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey all that [Jesus] has commended us." We are thankful for each life which God entrusts us in the Academy and we ask you to join in praying with us that we would be good stewards of these young lives who submit themselves for the year in Memphis.

You can read a bit about this year's intern class on our About page found here. You will also see the Academy providing content for this year's SOS blog! If you're interested in learning more about the goals of the Academy, visit our Academy page. We also invite you to consider applying to the Academy for 2016!



SOS AcademyJonathan King