When I first began recruiting for Mission Year, I had the opportunity to go to Chicago to visit college campuses with Shawn (Executive Director). As we travelled from school to school, I began navigating how I would like to share my Mission Year story in a way that highlighted the places that I have experienced transformation and growth. As I entered into the National Recruiter and Houston Program Assistant role, I was transitioning from two years of service and learning the new rhythms of life in my neighborhood and new community.
One particular conversation that stands out to me, is one I shared with Shawn where I was able to express the weight I felt from the injustice that was taking place in my community. I mentioned how hard it was for me to witness, as well as experience the pain that my neighbors face for myself. I shared that entering into relationship with my neighbors requires that I enter into and sit with the pain experienced in their lives. I may have even alluded to how much easier it would be to remain ignorant, deaf, and blind to the reality of systematic violence and injustice that is very present in the lives of my neighbors. In that moment, I remember Shawn asking me, “would it really be better to not see or know the pain?”
I can share countless reasons why I said yes to working with Mission Year; however, I think in this particular season of my life, I have come to deeply value that my commitment to Mission Year as a staff member continues to drive me to face brokenness. My relationships with our staff and friends in the city encourage me to ask hard questions, engage in meaningful dialogue, and navigate and create ways that we’d like to work against injustice. Shawn’s question has been one that I’ve continuously gone back to as I think, pray, and hurt over the injustices that hold back my neighbors, my community, and our nation from thriving to its fullest potential.
Before Mission Year, I felt paralyzed when I saw brokenness and injustice faced by others in my community. Now, as we engage with the story we’ve been invited into by being a part of the work in the city, we’ve been given tools to not only see but discover what to do with the pain. I’ve been encouraged and empowered by the conversations that I am continuing to have. I love that in this organization, we’re continue to check our blind spots in how we live our lives, enter into our neighborhoods as learners (not experts), and celebrate the transformation we experience as we engage with God and people.
The fact that I get to share Mission Year’s story wherever I go and invite others into this greater story of community, love, and justice is an honor. I’ve been able to experience how Mission Year not only affects those who commit a year to the program, but also transforms friends and family members who journey and invest in us as we navigate through a season of learning to see, be, and respond to the rhythms of what’s happening around us in the city.
When it comes down to it, I work for Mission Year because I recognize that in the work we do, there is an invitation to respond, stand with, and be a part of the life of our neighborhoods. We’re equipping young adults from all walks of life to pay attention – to individuals, to their passions, and to what God is doing. Now, that’s something I’m proud to be a part of.