I have been in this city for a little over a month now. I really can’t believe how quickly it has gone by. I feel at home walking down Colfax, the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, I’ve driven the prayer tour countless times, and have enjoyed more meals at ethnic restaurants than my growing waste line would care to remember. I have had my hand (quite literally) in thousands of meals given to Denver's homeless. I've had the opportunity to sort text books being shipped off to Africa, and even help plant fields of vegetables that, when harvested, will go to people who don’t have access healthy produce.
All of these things are wonderful, and I am so blessed to continue to have these experiences with CSM. However, when I am asked what the favorite part of my job is, none of these things seem to make the list. So what is the best part of the job for this City Host?
Watching reconciliation happen.
Let me explain…
Being born and raised in South Africa, reconciliation is a word that has been close to my heart my whole life. I was born just two years before the democracy of my country was, and I grew up with the first generation of people born free and equal by the law. Since 1994, my country has been working tirelessly to break fresh stereotypes of anger and hurt left behind from Apartheid. It has not been easy for the country’s leaders. So much seems to rest on their shoulders, but the place I see reconciliation most in South Africa is not in large-scale government attempts or in politics, it is in the people.
This is not a South African reality, but a universal reality. In Denver, not only is there a great need for racial reconciliation, but also reconciliation between the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the marginalized and the included.
Reconciliation doesn't happen when the rich feed the poor, it happens when we all get on the same level, sit on the ground against a tree stump and talk about life's joys and hardships. That is why Jesus sat at the well with the Samaritan woman and went to dinner with tax collectors. Jesus set this example of reconciliation for us as something that we must all play a part in.
Being with CSM, I have been able to watch those walls of separation break down. I get to see the story being changed...
When a 15 year old girl calls a homeless person ‘my friend’.
When a young student quietly sits and listens to the entire life story of a 68 year old man living on the street.
When a group of teenagers stand in a circle in a McDonalds, hold hands, and pray with a man that most would simply ignore.
I have seen students hearts changed by these experiences, and I have seen my homeless friends with joy on their faces because of the mere fact that somebody listened.
These are the moments that impact lives and bring reconciliation. These are the stories that will change the future of our churches, our countries, and our world.
I want to leave you with a quote from one of my heroes, Desmond Tutu. When speaking of the role of Christians in reconciling our world, he says:
"We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome..."