Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When worlds COLLIDE

This week was a fantastic week. I was privileged with the opportunity to host a large youth group from Midland, TX. 

Now, I grew up in western Washington State and go to school in Idaho, so I'd be the first to admit that the Pacific Northwest (and all its stereotypes) have left obvious marks on my life. I drink too much coffee, have a beard, and shun all those who carry umbrellas in the rain. These students from Texas similarly embodied the stereotypes of west Texas that I've heard. There were students with parents who were ranchers, oil field workers, and football coaches; all of whom would be on the trip. Oh, how different we are.

These two worlds collided for a week in Nashville, a beautiful city and my home for the summer. Every morning, my group and I went to YCAP, a summer program ran by the YMCA of East Nashville and staffed by Vanderbilt football players (sidenote: never have I felt more physically inferior - I wish I would have started working out when I was 12 and never stopped, because maybe then I would be able to lift half as much as some of those guys). We spent every morning playing at least one five-on-five basketball game with some of the participants of YCAP, with teams mixed with Texans, YCAP students, Vandy football players, and me. What resulted was something beautiful, sometimes horrendous, but always basketball. At least you could call it basketball.

Since arriving in Nashville, I have recognized my otherness, or just the general differences between myself and the people that live here. I am from a white, middle-class, educated family from the Pacific Northwest. Most of the people I have met here do not share this same cultural upbringing or background. The beautiful thing I have noticed in the four weeks I have been here is that, to be honest, it doesnt matter.

As cliche' as it may sound, it doesnt matter if youre black, white, purple, or green - we are all Gods children. Likewise, we all have a place in the Kingdom of God and the redemption of the world that is already underway. The students from Texas and Nashville, despite their differences, bonded because we were all able to laugh when I air-balled again, again, and again. My serving group was able to get a glimpse of ecumenical and inclusive ministry at all of the sites we participated in this week, and see the beauty of the melting pot of Gods Kingdom.

As this group leaves to go home to west Texas, they are taking with them invaluable knowledge: people in Nashville, no matter how different they are, are people, too. Believing that statement with your head and heart is what it takes to make a difference towards equality and justice in a broken world. This is a piece of the knowledge that it takes to co-labor with Christ in the bringing of the Kingdom.

- Shaun, CSM Nashville Summer 2014 City Host

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