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.