We're talking about "When Labels Blind Us" this Sunday and Rev. Clay Horton can't help but be reminded of MAD Camp. Read his story and join us this Sunday.
It's now been a couple months since MAD for Jesus and I still wake up thinking about the great camp. Nearly 200 Wesley-Rankin students came to Trietsch for a week filled with music, arts, dance, drama, and of course Jesus. Perhaps one of things I have been thinking about the most are the perceptions that change when a predominately Hispanic group from West Dallas gets together with a group of predominately white Flower Mound folks.
Jesus didn't seem to care much about letting labels or other people's perceptions change the way he interacted with people. He saw people as valued children of God. Over and over again, we see that Christ was less concerned with stereotypes and more concerned with people.
We of course live in a world where our perceptions of people are often informed by stereotypes. I am sure that people in West Dallas have stereotypes about us in Flower Mound. In the same vein, we too often have stereotypes about the people in West Dallas. These stereotypes (going both ways) are too often affirmed in the media and influence the way we think and act.
I saw stereotypes shattered during MAD for Jesus. Whatever perceptions of white, middle-class people the kids from Wesley-Rankin held, with each hug, laugh, and high five, the stereotypes melted away. With each conversation, song, and giggle, my perception of kids in West Dallas changed. At the end of the day, people are people and kids are kids. God created us all and we are more alike than we are different. While we host MAD for Jesus to help lead kids into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, one of the beautiful things I noticed God doing this year was racial reconciliation. To my knowledge, although we had more than 100 volunteers help, I don't know if anyone specifically showed up purposefully to do racial reconciliation work. However, Christ was bringing two extremely diverse groups together. This was Kingdom work and it shattered stereotypes.
Although stereotypes were shattered that week, the Kingdom work continues. Many of us have a new or renewed relationship with kids from West Dallas. I would hope that if someone in one of their circles said, "Well, all white middle class people _____," a kid who spent a week at our camp would be brave enough to say, "Well that doesn't sound like the people I know at Trietsch. I don't think all white people are like that." In the same way, if someone in one of our circles says, "Well, all low-income Hispanic people ______," then I pray that you and I are bold enough to say, "That doesn't sound like the kids I know from Wesley-Rankin."
We formed and strengthened important relationships during the week of MAD Camp. I saw our church reach out in true love and charity that week and my prayer is that we can continue to support and love those children throughout the year. One way we do this is by listening to their problems and then speaking up for those kids when the time arises. When people or government talk about the poor, immigrants, or the undocumented, they are talking about the kids we hosted during MAD Camp. I don't have the answers to problems around poverty or immigration, but I do believe that the church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is called to be a part of the solution. Our cities, states, and nation are searching for answers. As a church, let's listen for and then share Christ's answer.