Category: Fellow Blog
Created: Friday, February 24 2017 15:39
Kara Schumann, Epsilon Fellow
The most frequent question I got asked when people outside of my community found out where I lived was, “Do you feel safe?” This question has always left me feeling perplexed. I am sure people’s motive behind their question was their care and concern for my well being, yet I invariably felt the negative undertones in their voice. Their unspoken, thinly veiled philosophies and beliefs about my community left me feeling offended and confused.
The root of my offense stemmed from their misunderstanding of the beauty and strength of my neighborhood. Loving neighbors, front porch conversations, jump ropes, laughter, art, home-cooked meals, and strangers greeting you with inspirational words to brighten your day – these were not the images people had in their minds when they thought of my neighborhood and asked me “Do you feel safe?”
Fear drives a perpetual obsession with safety and security. It’s everywhere. We install home security systems, purchase firearms and avoid certain parts of town. We “bubble wrap” our kids, determine where we will live based on crime reports, don’t travel to certain countries, and avoid “certain kinds of people”. We do everything we can to eliminate potential threats. We have a natural inclination to do all we can to control outside circumstances so that we might maintain a certain level of perceived safety. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. Do we put too much hope in our efforts? Absolutely.
I remember the first time I heard the concept of safety challenged. I was in middle school and our history teacher gave us an assignment to interview someone who was involved in WWII. I immediately thought of Elsie, my 90-year-old, white-haired friend from church. Her husband had served in the army during that time. I sat down with her for a couple of hours and listened to her recall story after story – each one oozing with wisdom and faith. It has been nearly 15 years ago, but I recall even now her powerful words: “I had to remind myself over and over again that my Don was just as safe over there in that war as he was driving his car down the street right here in town – the Lord is in control.”
With these words, Elsie rocked my little world. I think back on her words often. She was right. The Lord is in control. When everything is peaceful and calm, he is in control. When chaos is all around me, he is in control. He never promised us safety, or to spare us from pain. Jesus says in John 16:33 “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This is not an argument for recklessness, it is an argument for trust in his sovereignty. Not only did He overcome the world, but he is with us in it. Those who trust in Jesus are the most secure people on the planet, not because of our 401k’s, alarm systems or ability to “protect ourselves.” We don’t get a magical pass from hardship and pain, yet we are secure because we are his. Fear or an obsession with safety need not hold us back. When we trust Jesus we are able to hold loosely to the idea of safety and comfort, and we are freed to live a life of joyful obedience.
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Category: Fellow Blog
Created: Monday, November 07 2016 20:04
By: Delta Fellow, Cynthia Lopez
We were sitting on a bench in the main lobby at Covenant College. Juan and I had just met the day before in my last Community Development class as a senior and he had somehow convinced me to meet him for coffee, even though I wasn’t really interested in the Fellowship program.
He told me a little about his story; coming from Colombia, going to college, becoming a pastor in Denver. He then asked me about mine; coming from the Dominican Republic, going to college and then the doubts about what was next.
As we talked, one sentence stuck out and rang in my mind in the days and the weeks following.
“We are passionate about developing minority leadership.”
I had been in the States for about six years and had not given much thought to the idea that my development as a leader would have to look different. I came to Covenant on a leadership scholarship, the only Latina in my cohort, and I just read the same books and had the same discussions as the rest of my group. It felt a little odd to be learning about leadership from Shakespeare’s Four Histories and Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow, but what did I know.
I had never been in a place where my Latina identity was a conversation topic, much less what it could like.
That’s me, I thought. I had no idea how I would be developed, but I was excited to come to Denver and find out.
Fast forward to a year after that initial conversation. I was sitting in an afternoon breakout session at the Christian Community Development Association Conference in Los Angeles, and I received a text from Juan.
“I have a dinner appointment with a Latina woman I want you to meet. Are you available?”
We had been listening to several women of color speak from the conference stage, but I was so excited to have a personal conversation and to get to know someone.
Her name was Dennae, early thirties, youngish looking, dark hair, light skin, much like me.
We made our way through the crowded hotel lobby, out onto the street, and as we walked to the restaurant we talked. She told me about what she did in Phoenix as the Executive Director of The Surge Network, and asked me about what I did for CrossPurpose and what I hoped to do in the future.
We sat down in the middle of a slightly fancy food court, and I just sat back and watched her describe her work to Jay and Juan, sharing the dream with them about what God might want to do in her city. I could tell she knew her stuff, loved what she did, and sought to humbly steward the amazing influence she had as a leader.
It was beautiful.
An hour and a half flew by. I almost forgot we were at a conference and that we still had to walk back in time for the main session that evening.
As we hurriedly crossed the street, Juan leaned over and asked “Do you know why I invited you tonight?”
“I wanted you to see what’s possible for you. I want to expand your horizons. That could be you in a couple of years! You have that potential!”
I was inspired. I felt empowered.
As minorities in ministry, we don’t always see people who look or talk like us in leadership, so one of the most powerful ways to develop and encourage us on our journey is to intentionally introduce us to each other. We need relationship. We need role models.
It meant a lot to me that Juan thought to invite me, that he spoke those life-giving words to me on the way back to the conference, and that he is looking for ways for Dennae and I to connect in the future.
I am so glad I am in a place where this is not just a part of a passing conversation, but the way we actually live.
I am a minority leader. And this is one of the ways I am being developed.
Cynthia was born and raised in the heart of the Dominican Republic, moved to Miami, FL in high school and then graduated from Covenant College with a BA in Community Development. Cynthia is a second-year Fellow who is passionate about leadership development and learning how a community can best love their neighbor.
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