Learn, Contribute, Grow


San Jose, CA - A Community of Relocators, Remainers, and Returners


Dec 31, 2017

Derrick and Cayla Sanderlin invite you to find your place in urban ministry as a relocator, a remainer, or a returner through the Servant Partners Internship in San Jose, California and beyond!

One of the fathers of modern urban ministry is Dr. John Perkins, the founder of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). Perkins coined three identities for urban ministers: relocator, remainer and returner. A relocator is an individual who grows up in a middle or upper class community where resources are plenty, but then chooses to move to an under-resourced community to seek the development and transformation of that community. A remainer is an individual who is born and raised in a under-resourced community and feels compelled to stay in order to seek the betterment of their neighborhood. A returner is an individual who is born in an under-resourced context, goes away to live and learn elsewhere, and then returns to help their community thrive. A returner can also be someone who was born in an under-resourced neighborhood, goes away, and then moves to a different context similar to the one in which they were raised. 

Cayla and Derrick Sanderlin claim different urban minister identities. Cayla, a white woman from a suburban, middle-class family, identifies as a relocator. Whereas Derrick, a black man, owns his identity as a returner, since he came from a similar background to the families which they now minister to in San Jose, California. Cayla and Derrick moved to San Jose to participate in the Servant Partners Internship, and each has a unique story to tell about their time ministering and learning in the neighborhood. 

When Cayla first moved to the neighborhood, she felt out of place and unsure about what role to play in the community. She didn’t feel her experiences in life transferred to her neighbors, and she couldn’t fully understand their life experiences. At times, she found it all too easy to try to propose solutions to their problems, even if just in her mind. But during the Internship, she learned about the sin of the “savior mentality,” where one thinks they can fix all the problems around them instead of sitting with others, mourning  with them in their pain, and pointing them to Jesus, the true Savior. After recognizing the issue and confessing her wrong, she was able to live into the freedom of just being a friend and companion to her neighbors. 

Cayla started attending a young women’s empowerment program at the local youth center with an intern teammate, Lizzie. Lizzie was vivacious and fun, which drew the girls to them, and Cayla had a lot of time on her hands to spend with the girls, which made their partnership work well. When one of the teenage girls in the group got pregnant, she brought her needs and fears before the group. The young woman shared that she would be kicked out of her home and that she did not know what to do next about her pregnancy. Lizzie and Cayla felt compelled to help her.

Lizzie, a nurse, helped the young woman set up appointments at her clinic. Cayla, who was working part-time, was able to accompany this young lady to all her doctor’s visits. When it came time for the baby to be born, Cayla, Lizzie and Derrick were asked to be godparents. Cayla learned that faithful presence was key to ministering well—that availability and willingness goes a long way in befriending those on the margins. And that her role was to love the women as she loves her own family. 

For Derrick, Servant Partners was a threshing floor: a place to test out his beliefs, his ideas, and find his passions. Coming from a poor family in rural Southern California made it easy for him to understand the plight of other poor people. However, the urban landscape left different impressions on the people who grew up there. Derrick didn't have as many run-ins with the police, like those of the pedestrians in the neighborhood who were stopped randomly and asked for identification. Derrick had never been cornered on the street before getting jumped. Yet fatherlessness, racism, and the difficult decision between rent and food for the family were all too real scenarios in Derrick’s upbringing.

During the internship, media coverage of the killing of Black men at the hands of the police was at an all-time high, Black Lives Matter was just becoming an organizing group, and racial privilege and prejudice were hot topics of discussion among their intern teammates. Derrick, being a Black man, mourned for his community.

The internship encourages interns to pursue transformation of the community in ways that the interns experience the most joy. Derrick had done some community organizing before joining the internship and decided that he would pursue organizing on behalf of the Black community in San Jose. He joined the Beloved Community Cohort of PACT (People Acting Community Together). In Beloved Community, Derrick fights to expand the role of the Independent Police Auditor to ensure that there is adequate oversight and transparency from the San Jose Police Department. Derrick found his voice among this organizing group.

Derrick and Cayla Sanderlin still live in San Jose and minister with Servant Partners. Cayla is on staff with the organization, and Derrick volunteers his time to the community. Cayla will help lead the next internship class that will begin in August of 2018. Derrick and Cayla want to extend a warm invitation to all of you interested in the internship. They would love to have you join them in their efforts for community transformation, justice, and the Gospel in San Jose!

Accepting applications for San Jose, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and the Middle East, due January 15, 2018!

For more information:

Online application:



Location: San Jose, CA
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