Motherhood is a gradual series of Letting Go. Some days it’s harder than others.
Today is one of the hard days.
My daughter is in her second month of a two-year fellowship with CrossPurpose, a training program “designed to bring together highly motivated individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests, and develop them into powerful kingdom builders for the public, private and nonprofit sectors.” Their mission is “to launch a movement of lifelong urban church leaders who will work through local churches and their communities to advance the mission of God and transform the cities of the world.“
My girl explains CrossPurpose’s philosophy, in part, the way it was explained to her:
“You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand, and you can’t understand from a distance.”
Long story short, this means she’s living among the people she’ll serve, at the poverty level…by design. She knows she’ll be stretched thin and pulled outside her comfort zone. Figuratively, sure, but also literally.
A few weeks ago she took part in a 48-hour weekend homeless immersion experience where she “entered the world of poverty and homelessness [to] discover the unique challenges of ministry among those on the margins of society.” She wrote a recent update for her supporters, and I asked her permission to share excerpts of it below.
You see, I’m her mama and I know what she and her co-workers are doing is hard. I’m asking your prayers on her (their) behalf. Especially this weekend when she’ll be taking part in another 48-hour encounter: a Refugee Immersion – “an intense, physically challenging immersion experience that exposes [participants] to the parallel universe and ministry challenges among refugees.”
Even if you discover this post after the fact, please pray. While the Refugee Weekend ends on Sunday, there’s no doubt its impact will linger, and the Fellowship is ongoing.
Please continue reading for a glimpse into the life of a CrossPurpose Fellow. My daughter would be the first to shrug off any personal accolade, but the program is special and what they’re doing is revolutionary.
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“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
~ Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird
This new skin I put on smelled bad. It was baggy and stretched from walking for miles. It did not endear me to others; on the contrary, this skin and the words that came from it garnered a type of reaction I’ve never before received.
Dread dropped into my stomach to mix with my hunger as we were given a series of assignments throughout the weekend intended to provide a brief glance into the lives of those who have no place to call home. People who didn’t know better would easily make assumptions about who I was. What I was.
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My daughter recently experienced a Poverty Immersion Weekend, where she and others spent a weekend on the streets, feeling and experiencing the lives of people who are homeless. This simulated experience has taken place for 18 years, guiding hundreds of individuals to empathize more deeply with our brothers and sisters who don’t have a place to call their own. When asked to put into words what she learned, my daughter said, “This experience gave me a small taste of what it’s like to feel rejected by the vast majority of society, to be ignored or treated with contempt. Listening to people’s stories helped me to see them as people; not as pitiful individuals who need rescuing, but as humans with strength and resilience, with knowledge and skills to offer society.”
She met people with life experiences very different from her own, leaving her with more questions than answers– “What trauma has he lived through that causes him to numb the pain with bottles and drugs? How do you enter into that space of such obvious pain and brokenness?”
One of her great takeaways was realizing “so many times I just want to fix people or situations, not understanding that I am broken too.”
Introspective, Rachel acknowledged thoughts and ideas that brought conviction to my own heart.
“My brokenness simply manifests itself in different ways than the homeless. The man at the rescue mission who handed me food when I was hungry showed me that empathy is a universal concept, and that walking with people living in poverty is a reciprocal relationship. Too often I have been guilty of adopting a ‘white Savior complex,’ where I view the poor as lowly, desperately needing what I have to offer. This attitude and positioning places the power in my hands, and reinforces the idea that I actually have the ability to save people. But I am gradually coming to believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior, and we are merely his ambassadors with a debt of love. This process is slow and painful, confronting deep-rooted patterns and mindsets that I deeply desire to prune from my heart.”
This weekend my girl and others in her Fellows Program will take part in another Urban Encounter – one designed to gain a little insight into the Refugee experience. My mama-heart would greatly appreciate your prayers on her (and their) behalf.
CrossPurpose has created an incredible urban leadership program through its Fellowship. Those willing to devote two years of their lives to learn and then live (and work) differently, are some of the bravest people I know. These are the kind of crazy people who are changing the world by daring to believe – and most importantly, live – what they profess.
Please click if you’re interested in learning more.
What a great Christian daughter you have. She is going to be a world changer!!
Rachel–Prayers for this weekend! I pray all goes well and you learn what refugees go through! Prayers that God will guide you all!! Prayers for a great weekend!!
Thanks for praying for my baby girl, Beth :). Though we haven’t yet talked, she let me know she’s back and her weekend was a good one…
Oh wow this is amazing. I can’t imagine all she will experience. Robin you must be so very proud!!
Well…yes ma’am…to see God at work in anyone’s life is an incredible thing; when it’s your kid, it means all the more. 🙂
We really truly don’t know until we have at least attempted to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes. I will certainly pray for you in your ministry and as you grow in empathy and compassion for others. I invite you to visit my blog and specifically my “MISSIONS” tab as I support a little known ministry in the epicenter of evil…Pakistan. Like you, I have come to know the children at Redeemer Christian School so well. They are orphans of the street…the lowest of the low. But, they are God’s children just like you and me. We are no better than the homeless person, the refugee, the orphan, or the widow and God calls us specifically to defend them. Joining with you in your commitment and devotion to be Jesus’ hands and feet to others. May God bless you richly for what you are doing in His name…
Bev…it sounds like you’re a part of an incredible ministry. Blessings and favor as you share the gospel in a very hard place.
What humbling experiences. My whole life I’ve tried to be the “fixer”, but at 50 years old I know that there is only One who can truly understand, who is all-knowing, and who has the greatest love for all. I only need to be obedient!!!
You have a wonderful Christian daughter that is making an impact on the world! She is learning a lifetime of lessons that most people would rather ignore. I know you are very proud!
This is a beautiful, convicting post. I so appreciate Rachel’s perspective, and it’s challenging me to think about how I 1) think about those I see panhandling or living on the streets, and 2) how I can change my responses.
I’ve definitely fallen into the lie that I can be a Savior to those who have less than I do. How presumptuous. There is only One who can truly fix the broken (which we all are). Loved this post!
“So many times I just want to fix people or situations, not understanding that I am broken too. // My brokenness simply manifests itself in different ways than the man sleeping off a hangover in an alley.” This hit me. As well as how you write about transforming/changing mindsets we’ve grown…by going through your crazy-yet-great immersions into poverty & refugee-ness. Man, the heart transformation! The compassion & empathy growing, stirring, gravitating ever so close to God’s heart. I want that! I admire this in you, your courage to go there, your obedience to do it, as hard as it is. May the closeness, the very presence of Jesus thru your journey be what drives your heart, what cheers & encourages you to keep going. You are admired, appreciated, loved. This reminds me to take a little more time with the next person who asks for spare change, to engage a little more…for that chance to reflect our Savior. Blessings!
This is so powerful. I cannot begin to imagine the personal fortitude it would take to do this…I could not. May it continue to change you.