Last summer, celebrating my
25th birthday!

Hello, dear blog readers! I am Julie Timm, and I am blessed to be able to work with the Urban Plunge Program. While my official title is Urban Plunge Scheduler and Development Administrator, you can find me doing anything from office work to participating in community activities. In college, I volunteered extensively with some of the ministries the Omaha Urban Plunge promotes. I now have the wonderful opportunity to be on the other side. I get to help others experience inner-city ministry! For many of them, it is their first taste of what life in the inner-city is like.

I would like to share with you some of the feedback that we received from Plunge participants.

“The Plunge really opened my eyes to the needs our country is facing–and so near to home. We help other countries, but what about our own people?”

“Sharing watermelon with people at the Siena Francis Homeless Shelter really impacted me. Seeing all those people, and hearing their stories. I looked down the street, and there stood the Woodman Tower. I can see the other side of that building from my neighborhood. I never knew there was this world so close to mine.”

“It opened my eyes so I could see things and people differently. It made me fee like I was ‘living in Disney World’ back home.” 

“It made me want to go back home and serve others, not worrying so much about my wants. It gave me a passion to serve others and be a person of prayer.”

Did you know that as of 2010, racial minorities made up over 18% of the Omaha, Nebraska population? Two years later, that number continues to climb. Check out these demographics on the greater Omaha area, taken from Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership.

Recently, a co-worker and I, along with several students from Grace University, had the chance to sit down and talk with Ron Dotzler, founder of Abide Network in North Omaha. Ron has a big vision for transforming our city.  He breaks down demographics into the following:

  • Helpless: children in a situation they can’t do anything about or dominant immigrant population–Latinos, Sudanese, Korean, and first generation Somalians–to name a few
  • Homeless: those on the streets
  • Hopeless: people who feel that they are hopeless to get out of their community

This pie chart shows immigrant demographics for Omaha. 
chart from 2011 Silicon Prairie News article 

Omaha has had a huge influx of immigrants and refugees. We are home to the largest Sudanese refugee population in the U.S. Vast numbers of Somalians are settling here. And we can’t forget about our Hispanic population, which makes up over half of the immigrant population count.

Do you know the commonality between all these people groups? They all need help, hope, and Jesus Christ.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8

While we are commanded to go to the “ends of the earth”, we are instructed to go to our Jerusalem, first. With our rapidly growing immigrant population, what better way to reach the world than in our own community? The majority of these immigrants and refugees are being placed in North and South Omaha. Cheap housing is one of the factors, but the main issue is cultural and racial divides. There is a line drawn right through the middle of Omaha, and only the few and brave will cross it.

The Urban Plunge is one of the groups that are helping to change this. We offer participants a chance to hang out in the inner-city and serve “the least of these.” They get to see that it’s not so scary, and they are given tangible ways to show hope and love to those in poverty. Many leave the trip convicted and inspired, like the ones mentioned above. If you’ve never experienced the Plunge before, what’s holding you back? We would love to have you!

If volunteering with our immigrant and refugee population intrigues you, I’d like to invite you to get in touch with these organizations doing awesome work in Omaha.


Be blessed,

Julie

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