We live in the middle of multiple tensions. Our home is in a 2 bedroom apartment, in a Hispanic neighborhood of hardworking, low income families. But we also live in Chamblee, a city that has multi-million dollar homes.
We don't have to drive very far to find beautiful, fully resourced public schools, but the schools our neighborhood kids go to can barely afford soap in their bathrooms. We have friends who are white and wealthy, and friends who are minorities, on the verge of homelessness.
Sometimes living in those tensions gives us a unique perspective or at least helps us ask the hard questions.
So whenever I get the opportunity to speak to large groups, I enjoy being a bridge between worlds, connecting people, and fostering love across borders.
My hope is to be a person of truth who shines light in dark places, in my own neighborhood and community but also in communities outside of where I live and work. Sometimes darkness is ignorance, fear, greed or apathy, the kind of traps people of comfort find themselves in.
I recently had the chance to travel to Pittsburgh for the New Wilmington Missions Conference. It is the oldest, most continuous missions conference in the United States. This was their 112th year.
To be honest, I'm not comfortable being called a missionary, and I knew I would be put on that pedestal at this event. But the opportunity seemed ordained by God and my expenses would be covered. PLUS I was able to bring my baby, my aunt could drive up from Virginia to help, and a high-school girl from our neighborhood who had never flown on a airplane before could join me!
The director, Ginny Teitt, (before she was even the director) had met me one year at the CCDA conference by chance. She wasn't even attending the conference, but heard about it and decided to stop in and see what is was about. We had a conversation, she followed our ministry for years, and felt that one day our paths would cross again. When she become the director of the conference this year, she invited me to come and share about our work.
When I first got there I felt immediately aware of how white it was, probably because I had empathy for the Hispanic teenage girl with me.
I felt completely out of place and desired to get back on the plane and go home.
But something happened when I walked into the young adult group I was scheduled to speak to one night. They were all dancing around to some current pop music as they waited for the rest of their group to show up...and I had this feeling...."these are my people!".
I spoke almost everyday, to all ages, all week long at this conference, sharing my story, sharing what God was doing through Presencia. But it was in this particular moment that God made it clear to me that I was meant to be there, for these people, for this particular time. It was really exciting! I think some connections and friendships were made that night that will be lifelong.
Ginny Teitt and I ended up having a wonderful conversation about the Church and the way in which God seems to be working in our day and time as it relates to missions. The theme for next year is "Love your Neighbor"!
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In all my years of doing this and in my role as Executive Director, God has shown me over and over again that he always has what's best for me, my family and Presencia in mind.
His plans, his ways and his timing are always better then anything I could have mustered up on my own strength or knowledge. I just have to be courageous enough to trust him, and take steps day by day to follow where he is leading as he makes the path straight before me.
I left New Wilmington with a new sense of God's presence in my life, and great anticipation for what's ahead. I know that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. He is the one who makes the way possible and I just get to walk in it with him, as he faithfully gives me what I need to journey on!