Hello, fellow readers!
What you have below is my experience shared, so far, with a program I’m involved in under the umbrella that is Ciudad Nueva: Border Fellows. This particular internship has given me time to sit back and reflect upon God and the ways He is beginning to work in my life.
Care to know a little more about me? Then read on, dear friend, read on.
I’vE bEeN wReCkEd
… in the best way possible. Border Fellows has been an experience that has blown my worldview apart, and now I find myself giving God the pieces leftover. I’ve stumbled into an entirely new culture of Christianity; you could say my first understanding of it came in a definition something like this: being a missionary to your community.
I had grown up doing missions with my family — the short term travels that took two to four weeks out of my summer. We would learn about the culture we were going to immerse ourselves in for the month, practice cultural sensitivity, then arm ourselves with prayer as we boarded planes to other countries. There we would meet up with a ministry already in place in that country and come alongside them to help them, but I had never been placed in a ministry where I was the one sticking around to invest in community for the long haul.
Coming in to the Border Fellows program, at first, seemed like a safe choice. I would move back in to my parents’ home, serve the church I grew up in (St. Clement’s), find a part-time job, and all would be well.
God is funny.
Part of the program requires us to take theological seminary classes. Every Friday, six of us sit in the conference room at St. Clement’s and discuss books we’ve been assigned to read. When Helping Hurts and Creation Regained were the first little disturbance ripples in my crystal clear worldview. These books specifically called Christians’ attention to God’s purpose for community outreach to those on the fringes — to live alongside them. Spending time with neighbors was a long and lasting process that would grow one into their full potential God intended from the very beginning.
Then there was the CCDA conference, where everyone seemed to be on the same page of community development, and there my crystal clear worldview was knocked to the ground and spilling over with bucket loads of information to replace what I had thought was worldview at its best. I know I’ve been metaphorically vague, but if I’m being honest, I really didn’t give much thought to those on the fringes before this fellowship started. I had been fine dropping into a stranger’s home in India, sharing a meal and Christ, then leaving the discipleship to the pastors who lived there; I was by no means ready to be the one who remained to share more than a couple meals and my life with someone.
God has used this internship to show me the blessing that comes with seeing community through His eyes — by coming alongside the materially poor — not to bestow my false idea of kindness, but to learn how to listen, give others a chance to share their stories, and let my grinch-heart grow two sizes too big for those around me that God cares about.
This internship is teaching me to pray God’s thoughts after Him, gain His heart for El Paso, and love what He loves. I’m coming to grow in my love for the LORD, because I’ve been keeping Him on the fringes for far too long.