A call to dream and action at Hope for the Future 2018San Antoniohttps://www.pjsn.org/news/A-call-to-dream-and-action-at-Hope-for-the-Future-2018A call to dream and action at Hope for the Future 2018By Jenny Castro


 The latest



“The people are marching!” at the seventh annual Hope for the Future San Antoniohttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Mennonite-leaders-of-Color-meet-in-San-Antonio “The people are marching!” at the seventh annual Hope for the Future
Mennonites in Burkina Faso celebrate 40th anniversaryBurkina Fasohttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Mennonites-in-Burkina-Faso-celebrate-40th-anniversaMennonites in Burkina Faso celebrate 40th anniversaryBy Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Mission worker known for reaching across boundaries and for teamwork in IndiaIn remembrance https://www.pjsn.org/news/Matilda-JantzenMission worker known for reaching across boundaries and for teamwork in IndiaBy Travis Duersen
Ecuador, a food storyQuitohttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Ecuador-a-food-storyEcuador, a food storyBy Quinn Kathrineberg
DOOR names new Executive DirectorTransitionhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/DOOR-names-new-Executive-DirectorDOOR names new Executive DirectorBy DOOR Staff
Christmas challenges apartheid, exclusionJohannesburghttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Christmas-challenges-apartheidChristmas challenges apartheid, exclusionBy Andrew G. Suderman with Mzwandile Nkutha
A radical text for our timesReal connectionshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/A-radical-text-for-our-timesA radical text for our timesBy Jason Boone
Elkhart agencies come together in training local leaders to serve people formerly incarceratedStrengthening the communityhttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Elkhart-agencies-come-together-in-training-local-leaders-to-serve-former-inmates-and-their-familiesElkhart agencies come together in training local leaders to serve people formerly incarceratedBy Dani Klotz
Congo crisis grinds onDemocratic Republic of Congohttps://www.pjsn.org/news/Congo-crisis-grinds-onCongo crisis grinds onBy Will Braun, Senior Writer for Canadian Mennonite




A radical text for our timeshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/A-radical-text-for-our-timesA radical text for our timesBy Jason Boone<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Heading to the airport for an early morning flight, I grabbed the most radical, subversive, counter-cultural peace book I own to read on the plane. What was it? </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">How to win friends and influence people</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> by Dale Carnegie, of course.</span></p><p>Hear me out – Yes, <em>How to win friends …</em> was first published in 1936, and it shows. It's dated in many ways, and is kind of nerdy to be honest. On the other hand, it's been around for so long for a reason. It works!</p><p>I picked up a copy years ago in a used bookstore because it was cheap and I am a compulsive book buyer. My experience is that when I take the care to actually do the things in the book, my relationships improve. It's really as simple as that. </p><p>It's an easy read and the concepts are familiar. Some of this your parents or Sunday school teacher likely taught you when you were a kid. Some is common sense that you've picked up from ordinary life.</p><p>"Begin in a friendly way." "Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves." "Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view."</p><p>As is often the case with simple things, the temptation is to dismiss it as childish. To do so is to miss the power and profundity that lurks below the surface of simple things. "Try to see things from the other's point of view." Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know to do this. But when's the last time you actually did it? Or is the default mode today when encountering a person who holds a position different from ours, to dismiss them, to insult them, to see them as enemies to be overcome? </p><p>I'm not suggesting that this type of interpersonal peacemaking is the only thing needed to create a just world, and that being friendly will dismantle oppressive systems and structures. But I do believe it's a mistake to think that peace can flourish when enmity exists between people. </p><p>We should resist the evils of systems of domination in our world. We should actively work to shape our political systems so they benefit the vulnerable in society. Thankfully, peacemakers are getting better at that. We know how and aren't afraid to work for peace and justice in the public square and the political realm.</p><p>Of course, everyone else is getting better at advocating for their political vision as well. And so opposing camps battle it out for control of the systems that we believe can bring justice if used properly, and destruction if they fall into the wrong hands.</p><p>And while we look for hints or clues of how the battle is going, as we interpret everything – every purchase, every decision, every single tweet – through the lens of our politics, the fabric of society unravels, slowly but surely. Self-righteous politically homogenous echo chambers, where we support and encourage derision and suspicions about the "other side," ends badly for everyone. History's ugliest sins – slavery, gulags, concentration camps, genocide, the removal of indigenous people from Native lands (the list is long and putrid) – don't stem from a bunch of folks committed to seeing things from another's point of view. These come from those convinced of their own righteousness.</p><p>We don't have to pick just one: fight systemic injustices or be bridge-building peacemakers. I believe the peace of Jesus encompasses both. Stay engaged politically on all levels – national, state, local. Make your voice for justice heard. </p><p>At the same time, we desperately need to oppose the emerging cultural consensus that certain groups of people deserve to be hated, aren't worthy of love, and should be avoided by those who know better. </p><p>In that light, <em>How to win friends and influence people</em> is a radical text for these times. But even it pales in comparison to the good news of Jesus, who refused to accept the abusive system of empire or the divisive cultural systems of his time. He opted instead for the kingdom of God, a new reality that declares love to be the highest law, applicable to all, even our enemies. <br></p>
My personal awakening to God's workhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/The-M-word-My-personal-awakening-to-God's-workMy personal awakening to God's workBy Paula Killough<p>In 2006, when I came to Elkhart, Indiana, the "M" word—mission— was certainly not part of my vocabulary. Mission, in my view, was the method used to accomplish the goals of colonialism—cultural genocide, coercive baptisms to Christianity, wealth, and resource extraction. </p><p>I vividly remember reading an issue of Mennonite Mission Network's <em>Beyond </em>magazine in 2004 on Christian-Muslim dialogue. There were three vignettes of agency encounters with Muslim people. Unfortunately, these "friend-making" conversion stories just reinforced my negative views of mission as coercive and disingenuous. </p><p>Then I encountered Galatians 1:11-12 as a primary sermon text, and was transformed. I realized I had missed the point of the <em>Beyond </em>stories. My frustration that our Christian mission workers must have had an agenda all along, got in the way of me being able to accept that the "revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ" is so powerful and infectious that it makes its way into the hearts and lives of people of all kinds. My liberal assumptions, I came to realize, created walls, not bridges. </p><p>God chose to perform the Pentecost miracle in Jerusalem in a spe­cific way. Scripture does not say that everyone was able to understand one and the same language. Rather, each person heard God's words through the Galileans in their own language (Acts 2:6). This happened to me. Galatians 1 got through to me. </p><p>Hearing God's word, God's message for us in our own language … that is often the challenge. Even the word "mission" is a loaded word, carrying very rich and fruitful images for some, and fraught with all the negativity of colonialism for others. As my colleague James Krabill would say, "People of all cultures are hungry for the Bread of Life, but many choke on the Western-cultural wrapper we place it in." </p><p>Several stories have been central to my expanding view of this "M" word. Of the six stories I shared in a recent <a href="/resources/publications/Missio%20Dei/354/The%20%22M%22%20word"><em>Missio Dei </em>booklet</a>, I have chosen three here as illustrative of my journey.</p><p><strong>Irene Weaver "getting out of the way" of the church in India </strong></p><p>Irene Weaver was born into a missionary compound setting in India in 1910—just 11 years into the first overseas mission endeavor of North American Mennonites. In 1935, married to Edwin Weaver, the mission agency asked the couple to accept a post back in India. Irene soon overheard an Indian woman say that "living in a White person's house must be what it would be like in heaven." </p><p>"Those words burned shame into my soul," Weaver admitted. "I began to question many things. I decided my strategy of work in a foreign country would be different from anything I had experienced before." The Weavers began to realize that Western mission had encum­bered Mennonites in India with colonial structures that hampered their capacity to fully be God's people. </p><p>In later years, when the Weavers were invited to undertake new ministries in northern India and West Africa, they made a commitment to practice an "incarnational" approach to mission, respectful of local cultural values and patterns, and wary of introducing unsustainable Western structures and institutions. </p><p>Reflecting back on the early India experience, Irene noted, "When the church in India finally shook off our trappings, when we were out of the way, then they could take charge of things."<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Lavish hospitality at Jubilee House </strong></p><p>According to Luke's account of Jesus' ministry, sharing a meal defines hospitality. But as Luke tells it, the emphasis is more on being a gra­cious recipient than on being a host. I learned about acts of extravagant hospitality in Elkhart, Indiana, through Jubilee House—a Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) unit cosponsored by two congregations, Fellowship of Hope and my own Prairie Street Mennonite Church. For a number of years, the Jubilee House unit hosted a weekly gathering to share fellowship and food with neighbors, church members, friends from the community, and family members. </p><p>Southcentral Elkhart, where the MVS unit is located, is a cultur­ally diverse and socio-economically challenged community. But as one MVS volunteer astutely observed, "In God's abundance, everyone has something to contribute, whether telling a good story or helping with dishes. This reminds me of what the kingdom of God looks like, feels like, and how it moves."</p><p><strong>Indigenous expressions of the Christian faith in the Argentine Chaco </strong></p><p>Mennonite missionaries were deeply engaged with the Toba people in the Argentine Chaco already in the 1940s. Initially, these efforts did not go well as missionaries, operating in the dominant culture theology and practice of the day, established a walled compound … and received natural resistance from the Toba/Qom people. The Mennonite workers, discouraged with their lack of progress, decided to seek counsel in 1954 from United Bible Society staff. The advice they received: Abandon traditional missionary blueprints and approaches, and focus on learning from and interacting with Toba/Qom people, indigenous church leaders, their culture, and locally-generated goals and vision. </p><p>This alternative style of mission is best summarized as walking as Jesus walked—with others who are seeking the life of Christ, pri­oritizing the integrity of groups and individuals, and with weakness and vulnerability instead of attitudes of superiority. </p><p>In 2016, Mennonite workers and local believers completed the transla­tion of the Bible in the Qom language. Juan Victorica, a Qom leader who led the translation celebration, shared how in the past, people told the Qom that "being a Christian was making yourself like the people of European descent and leaving behind the Qom language. The Qom have now reclaimed their cultural identity in Christian expression." Victorica added that, "Now I know God is a Qom God!"</p><p><strong>Conclusion </strong></p><p>How will the church and the world view our efforts at faithfulness 50 or 100 years from now? Will we be charged with new forms of cultural insensitivity? What are we yet guilty of today? </p><p>Of these things I am certain: </p><p>• God continues to speak. May we continue to listen … with sensitivity and faithfulness. </p><p>• God's presence of healing and hope carry the global church through all the challenges of daily life. </p><p>• We continue to be called by God to establish global ministry con­nections. </p><p>We worship an active and loving global God who has sated the hunger for the Bread of Life <em>in partnership </em>with the church, but, also, all too often, <em>in spite </em>of it. Our historic encounters with people "outside" our worldview of Christianity include the genocide of the Crusades, the oppression and imperialism of mission-allied colonialism, and the decimation of North American indigenous peoples in order to replace them with "Christian" settlers, including Mennonites. As a church, we must name these behaviors and repent of them. </p><p>In the midst of these destructive social, political, and church move­ments, we celebrate the Christians whose witness was to listen to "the other" and whose mission—in addition to sharing the gospel—was to stand with people in their context. </p><p>We celebrate God's wonderful ability to use our words and actions, limited, flawed, and sometimes harmful though they may be. May God continue to reconcile all things and set things right with the world!<br></p>
Planting waterhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Planting-WaterPlanting waterBy Emma Stahl-Wert<p>​Once upon a time ... there was a 21-year-old, recently-graduated-from-Eastern-Mennonite-University, young woman, who had spent the previous four years learning all sorts of fancy things about herself and the world and her passions. She was READY to "go out in the world ... and do things for the good of all ..." And ... she had no idea where to start. So, naturally, like any directionless young person full of good intentions, optimism, and minimal life experience, she applied for Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS). MVS seemed the perfect fit—community living with other passionate young folks, a hook-up with some cool nonprofit doing something cool (farm- or garden-related in her case), and no need to worry about bills or housing for up to three years. Two months later, she was in Tucson, Arizona, learning about gardening in the desert, and working with residents in the Primavera Foundation's Transitional Housing program. Two years later, she was leaving MVS an older, wiser (slightly), aspiring Tucsonian. Six years after first setting foot in this desert city, she's still learning from this place and its people.<br></p><p>Hi! That woman was and is me, Emma Stahl-Wert. Since MVS, I have been incredibly blessed to find work and people that give me purpose and joy in this place I've learned to call home. After a short stint as a barista and another part-time Americorps term on a local farm, I finally landed my dream job, sort of. I landed a quarter-time gig at my favorite Tucson nonprofit.<br></p><p>While running the garden program for Primavera, I became aware of the importance of water in the desert AND of the practice called "water harvesting." Water harvesting includes storing the rain from roofs in tanks, as well as directing greywater out to landscape plants, and also shaping the earth to hold rain onsite where it can soak into the ground, instead of letting it all wash away during our BIG summer monsoon storms. A local nonprofit called Watershed Management Group (WMG) made it their mission to spread water harvesting practices across Tucson, and when they did some projects with Primavera, I got hooked. After growing vegetables in the desert for two years using imported Colorado River water (Arizona pumps water 300+ miles uphill across the desert), I was ready to take a WMG slogan seriously—"Plant the water before you plant the plants!"<br></p><p>It's been three years now and I've worked my way up from a quarter-time assistant position to what is actually my dream job (for now)—teaching and implementing water harvesting practices at local people's homes. I run projects in our co-op program, often referred to as a "Sonoran Barn-Raising," which warms my Mennonite heart. From initial consultation and design to implementation, I can do it all. And the best part is that when we go to install the tank, or dig the holes and plant the plants, we have huge groups of volunteers who come out to help and learn more about water harvesting, just like I once did. The creativity and satisfaction involved in installing a project is fulfilling in one way, and the energy and joy I get from teaching and learning with volunteers puts the icing on the proverbial cake. WMG's newest endeavor is to actually bring our historic rivers (now dry most of the year) back to life through good water policy and widespread rainwater harvesting. We are aiming to achieve this lofty goal within 50 years. I plan to be here to see it happen!<br></p>
Seeing in full colorhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Seeing-in-full-color-Seeing in full colorBy Jason Boone<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">We had been driving since early that morning and still had a lot of hours to go. Everything blends in after enough hours in a car, and we didn't even talk about what we might want for dinner. We just pulled into the first place we saw.</span></p><p>It was clean and bright inside, busy, but not full. We sat down at a table and waited for our server.</p><p>We waited.                                                  </p><p>And waited.</p><p>And waited.</p><p>"This is ridiculous," I said. </p><p>"Sure," he said, looking at me a little strangely.</p><p>"What," I asked.</p><p>"You know what's going on here, right?"</p><p>"Yes I do. It's called 'poor customer service' and it will be reflected in my tip.'"</p><p>"Look around. What do you notice about everyone in here?"</p><p>"I notice they are all eating food and being served and we aren't. Did I miss anything?"</p><p>"Who's the only African American here?"</p><p>"You are, but what does that have to do with anything? We're not talking about race, we're talking about how come we aren't being waited on. If you want to talk about race, that's fine, but first, let's at least get our order in …"</p><p>Yep, right in mid-sentence, I finally got it.</p><p>I thought I had mastered everything one needed to know about racism. I had read books, gone to conferences, had deep, sometimes uncomfortable conversations about it. I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I thought I had graduated!</p><p>But I couldn't see it until I was 10 hours into a road trip with a Black friend, and he spelled it out to me.</p><p>I couldn't see, as a White person, that the racism that has been the cause of so much pain and sin is still an active, insidious presence in the world. </p><p>I guess I thought that when the visible, repugnant signs are absent—the burning crosses, the "Whites Only" instructions—then there is no racism present. Yet somehow we had stumbled into a "Whites Only" restaurant. In 2005. In the United States. I was stunned. My real education had just begun.</p><p>This story is embarrassing. My naivety is embarrassing. I hate to look dumb. But this is one of the most important stories in my life. It taught me more than anything else about race, racism, power, Whiteness, and so much more. I'm still being taught by it, 12 years later. </p><p>We eventually had dinner in that restaurant. My friend said, "We're staying until they serve us or kick us out." The rest of our trip was uneventful. We didn't have any more trouble in restaurants or anywhere else. Not that I could see anyway. But that's the problem—I couldn't see.<br></p>
Fill your belly, not the landfillhttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Fill-your-belly-not-the-landfillFill your belly, not the landfillBy Emily Wedel<p>​<span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;">According to the USDA, the United States <strong>wastes between 30-40 percent of the food</strong> produced a year. Food is lost at all levels, from the grower to the consumer, and creates a large problem for our wallets and the environment. Every time we throw out food, we are also throwing out money, resources, and energy that went into growing, packaging, processing and transporting the food. We could save a lot of money by using the food we buy to fill our bellies instead of a landfill. </span></p><p><span style="color:inherit;font-size:1.4rem;font-style:inherit;background-color:transparent;"><strong>Here are 10 ways to reduce food waste</strong> at home that lower your personal carbon footprint and save you money:</span></p><p> <strong><br></strong></p><p> <strong><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-01.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /></strong></p><strong> </strong><p><strong>Create a food log –</strong> By logging what we are buying and how much of it gets thrown away, we can become more aware of what we tend to over-buy and what we don't use at all. This can lead to more conscious and intentional purchasing at the grocery store, and reduce our tendency to impulse shop and over-buy.</p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-02.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Plan your meals –</strong> Shopping becomes easier when we plan our meals beforehand. This sets an intention for our purchases. We are more likely to use what we buy when we have a plan. </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-03.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Buy funny looking produce –</strong> Much of the food grown and produced in the USA doesn't even make it to the grocery store because it does not fit  aesthetic retail standards. We as a society are accustomed to only buy the "pretty produce." We can help reduce food waste by buying the "ugly" produce that other people might not.  </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-04.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Understand expiration dates –</strong> Expiration dates are not required by the FDA. "Sell by," "use by," and "best buy" dates are at the discretion of the manufacturer. Food is often good for days, weeks, months, or even years past the printed date. Expiration dates can be a useful guide, but it is important to understand that these dates are a manufacturer's estimation of peak quality. There are several smart phone apps that provide a guide for how long products are good for past the printed date. Most likely, if the food looks and smells fine, it is fine to eat.  </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-05.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Eat your leftovers! <strong>–</strong></strong> It is easy to make too much of something and then forget about the leftovers in the refrigerator. A simple solution for this is to organize your fridge by designating a specific corner for leftovers.  Those should be eaten or used in other dishes before shopping again or moving onto the fresher items. This can save you a lot of money! </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-06.png" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Preserve –</strong> Canning and freezing are great ways to preserve produce that you won't be able to use before it goes bad. Freezing vegetables is typically as  easy as blanching for a few minutes and then sticking them into a freezer bag. If you own a dehydrator, drying is a great way to preserve fruits, vegetables, meats and herbs. Canning is also a simple process, but requires a few more materials. Here's a <a href="http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/02/how-to-can-canning-pickling-preserving-ball-jars-materials-siphoning-recipes.html">beginner's guide to canning</a>.   </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-07.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" />         </p><p> <strong>Compost –</strong> According to the EPA, 20-30 percent of our trash is made up of food and yard waste. In a landfill, these materials break down and release methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food and yard scraps can be put to good use by composting. Composting reduces methane emissions and also provides nutrient rich soil to use in gardens. Check to see if your city has curbside composting that picks up your scraps right from your curb. Also, if you have friends with pigs, goats or chickens, check with them to see if they want your food scraps to feed their animals. </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-08.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /></p><p> <strong>Grow your own food –</strong> A great way to reduce over-buying produce and herbs are to grow your own. Starting a garden can save you money, reduce food waste, and increase your popularity among your friends who love garden fresh produce! Windowsill gardens are great for in the winter and for those who don't have a yard. <br></p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-09.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>Use it all –</strong> When possible, use all of the food you are cooking with.  It is not always necessary to peel your fruits and vegetables. The skin can provide extra nutrients, and eating it reduces our waste. Things such as the stalk of broccoli can be used along with the florets. The scraps from meats and vegetables can be used to make homemade stocks. </p><p> <img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2017/Food%20illustrations-10.png?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Donate –</strong> If you bought too much food, then check with the local food bank, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen to donate the food if it may go bad before you can use it or if you simply don't want it. Food insecurity is a big issue in the United States, and we should be aware of our waste when there are so many people who struggle to feed themselves and their families.</p>
Flip the expectationshttps://www.pjsn.org/blog/Flip-the-expectationsFlip the expectationsErin Rhodes<p>​As I felt and continue to feel at New Day with the kids, I actually have no perspective of value to offer to those who have actually struggled. As part of the preferred majority, I have a coddled view of issues bound up in racial, economic and religious discrimination. I haven't seen from what Drew Hart would call "the underside" that is the margin, the borders, the kicked-under-the-rug part of society. From here, one can see the ugliest parts of a so-called fair society, the acts willingly ignored by those who can look away. People who live on "the underside" must be familiar with the assumptions of both dominant and subdominant cultures out of the necessity of interacting with both worlds. They are most aware, then, too, of the unconscious lies we can come to accept about "others" because they often have friends and family among those stigmatized groups. </p><p>I've only seen glimpses of "the underside" here in Johnstown (but a lot more than when I was living in the Mennonite sector of well-to-do Harrisonburg, Virginia), so that while I am on the way to beginning to understand the complexity of the issues that plague the world, I'm far from the maturity I need to be able to contribute to the discussions of how to move forward. Another reminder that "I don't know anything."</p><p>But while I am so far from being equipped to contributing to the dialogue righting injustice, I am also aware of how with great privilege comes great responsibility. Uncle Ben told this to Spiderman, of course, but so did Jesus to his followers: "... From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48b). We who have the truth of the gospel are compelled to take what we are given, each of us having been given a life so unique, and give it back through work for Christ. Our submission of our lives to mimic the sacrifice of Christ builds the "upside-down kingdom" where we lose all to receive all, suffer greatly to experience depth, and serve others to be served ourselves. Each of us has been given at least something, and now we give it back. </p><p>I do know, wherever I go, whatever I find myself doing, I want it to be service. Of course, any work can be service; not every Christian can be a pastor or missionary, land must be farmed, clothes produced, power generated, roads plowed, public bathrooms cleaned, and so forth. Indeed, we are called to work the gospel into every act that we do, knowing that we represent the kingdom with our integrity and selflessness. Paul writes in Colossians: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." This attitude of working for God and not self embodies the Christ-like surrender that we are demanded of in our whole life.</p><p>As I look to the service I will one day do, I never want to forget that it's not about me. What do the hungry need, the shelter-less, the injusticed, the ignorant, the lonely? Where are the least of these? That's where I want to be, continually reminded of my blessings, continually forced to admit my inadequacy, continually fulfilled only by God. </p><p>This acknowledgment of my gifts, and the desire to serve along with the realization of my own powerlessness to grasp the complexity of unjust systems, makes a treacherous balance. In my zeal to serve, I might fall prey to the ever ruthless "White savior complex." In thinking that my way best, that to me has been given the light of God, that I can be the driving force of change in a broken world, I run the risks of harming communities out of my ignorance, of dehumanizing individuals I deem necessary to "save," of believing that in my (White) privilege I can discredit others, of even thinking that it is me doing the work and not God. How many well-meaning youth groups or missionaries have set out with their agenda and enforced their way on people they targeted as in need? More insidiously, how often do we unconsciously assume that issues of the Black or poor communities could be remedied by replacing Black culture for White? Hart mentions often in his book the importance of empowering leaders already within marginalized communities, of giving value to the culture of peoples that has already been widely devalued.</p><p>The challenge, then, is the balance of give and take, serve and be served, which, when done in love, becomes the basis of a relationship. That's how we build any relationship after all; it is how we "do life" as some in the young church would say. You listen only to be listened to in turn, share something and get something shared back, laugh at their joke so that they laugh at yours, cook food to share to receive a meal another time, give of yourself in exchange for a living bond. By doing this intentionally with people unlike yourself, you are rewarded with a renewed view of life. </p><p>By sharing the perspectives of others, we also develop a sharpened awareness of injustices. Through dear relationships, the hardships we used to be able to comfortably shelve in our minds, become personal. Coming to know the hearts of the oppressed changes people from numbers, groups and categories back into people with names and lives that are worthy of love.</p><p>So then, when I ask these questions ... How do I as a White person engage in dismantling racism? How can I as a rich kid understand the perspective of the impoverished? How can I as an educated woman know how to reach the illiterate? ... Christ has provided me the answer. Seek out friends on the underside. Get up close and personal to the issues that affect the lowliest. Strive to improve the lives of others "as you love yourself" in the self sacrifice that speaks the gospel into every work you do. Flip the expectations of what is normal on its head. </p><p>Of course, doing this takes immense courage and trust. It is not easy to choose to live in crime-ridden housing districts to be connected to the economically challenged community. It is not easy to attend churches that have really unfamiliar traditions and worship styles. It is not easy to look past potential danger to reach people. It is not easy to choose a career that might not guarantee financial security. It is not easy to build bonds with someone you have little in common with (see <em><a href="http://sajohnstown1617.blogspot.com/2016/09/a-grasping-for-common-ground.html">A Grasping for Common Ground</a></em>). It is not easy to leave your comfort zone to engage with people. It is not easy.</p><p>I only pray I will have the audacity to live with the boldness my call deserves, not only as I look to the service I will one day do and the community I will be a part of, but also now in my work for Service Adventure and the community I find myself in now.<br></p><p><br></p><p><em>See Erin's full blog post </em><em><a href="http://sajohnstown1617.blogspot.com/2017/02/flip-expectations.html">here</a>.</em></p>