Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free... therefore, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Strangely enough, the halfway mark of my internship is quickly approaching - just nine days from now. In so many ways, this journey continues to be new each day. Each day is filled with new insights and new challenges - and I am continually convinced that there was no other place for me to be this summer. The things that I am learning and the ways that I am growing far exceed what I had hoped for or imagined.
Next week, I will be helping to lead a six day camp. The girls in my group are between the ages of eight and twelve. The camp is part of the Tomorrow's Clubs, a ministry that Nadezhda Ukraine partners with and helps to support. I am thrilled and excited... my involvement is much more than I had expected! I have the opportunity not just to observe, but to help lead and teach lessons across the week.
The lessons that I am leading all have incredible messages. As I began to prepare for each, I found myself learning some basic truths again and becoming even more excited about sharing these with the girls across the week. My favorite by far is lesson ten. It encompasses my passions and the work that I feel called to do - and the source of why I fell in love with the work in the first place. The lesson focuses on Acts 10, where Peter's prejudice and stereotypes are exposed, and where he is taught that Christ's love and hope are not for one group or the other - they are for all. The lesson goes on to talk about how when Christ came, He didn't spend His time with the pious or the "good believers." Instead, He spent His time with the 'outcasts' of society - with the poor, with addicts, with the criminals.
Prejudices and stereotypes are rampant and increasingly destructive. As time progresses, they take on ever more complicated modes of expression and their consequences even more extensive and difficult to access. The causes and consequences of prejudices and stereotypes - and they ways that they are expressed structurally in global poverty - are why entered graduate studies. But what lies beyond that? The fact that over and over and over, Christ teaches that the love and hope He offers are for all - not just for the 'good people', the beautiful, the wealthy, the Americans... it's for everyone.
So many times, there are hard lines drawn between those that believe in Christ and those that do not. We alienate one another and hostilities fly from both directions. And for what? Where does such treatment get us? The stereotypes and prejudices exist there as well.
What excites me the most about this entire experience is that it fully encompasses every aspect of who I am, what I am passionate about, the work I love, and why I love it. It is an integration of poverty alleviation, my faith, and my commitment to human rights advocacy. And now, I have the incredible opportunity to teach how evident it is in the word that there is no room for prejudice or stereotypes in who God desires to extend his love and hope to.