Just got back from CCDA, one of the largest evangelical conferences on redistribution, reconciliation, and relocation in our country. In short, picture 3 thousand community development workers who have devoted their lives to neighboring in the ghetto, ministering to prostitutes, and experiencing the realities of our immigration complex first hand.
Primarily, I’m most impressed with the group’s stark honesty disclosed about working with the ‘poor’, the rootedness in the biblical witness, and the stunning example of racial unity and love. The organization, in it’s ripe 20th year of work now attracts to its conference recovering drug addicts right off the streets to former prostitutes now working to help free their sisters from the lifestyle. One man, noticeably uneducated, stood up to comment in one session. He tried to give words to his overwhelming feeling of joy at the abounding level of interethnic love. “I’m so happy”, he noted,”there are Chinese people here, white, black, spanish. I feel like I’ve won the lottery!”
The sessions challenged me to think more closely about how I spend my time and how I engage with even the six families that live on each side of me. Combining a busy lifestyle with a subconscious perception of just how messy a relationship with our neighbors might actually get, results in a subtle avoidance of the humanity around me.
There’s a lot to say. I’m grateful for the experience. To sit at the feet of civil rights hero John Perkins, ordinary radical Shane Claiborne, Reconciliation Guru Chris Rice, Sojourners Master Jim Wallis, and Princeton Prof. Gabriel Salguero was a truly marked experience. I perceive deeply a just noticeable shift in my heart, one that adds to the myriad of subtle shifts, in which I am experiencing profound life transformation. If you ever have a chance, you’ve got to go!