“I Am Broken”

In the wonderful world of Christian Community Development there are 3 R’s that you must remember:

Relocation is “the need to live and work among those to whom we are attempting to bring the hope of the gospel”

Reconciliation is bringing and reuniting people with both God and others. It is simply “reconciling people to God, and reconciling people across the toughest human barriers”

Redistribution is viewed as a natural result of relocation and reconciliation. It is not the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, rather it is “putting our lives, our skills, our education, and our resources to work to empower people in a community of need”

When I first moved into the Cedar neighborhood 3 months ago, I was all gung-ho about EVERYTHING. The following words we’re my mantra:

‘I’m going to do God’s work; I’m going be a catalyst of change. I’m going to show these people Christ’s love.’

First of all there is nothing wrong with having an enthusiastic attitude like this, but let’s look closer at how I’m saying this:

I’m going to do God’s work; I’m going be a catalyst of change. I’m going to show these people Christ’s love.’

I was definitely in this ‘us vs. them’ mentality. I was subconsciously putting my neighbors in a box, separating myself from them. A problem that can arise with those who live and work in under-resourced neighborhoods is the development of a ‘God-Complex’ The mind-set (consciously or subconsciously) that you are here to ‘save’ the poor.

This sounds like a horrible thing and I definitely don’t want to fall into this category. But as I reflect on my first few weeks of living in the neighborhood, I can see how I struggled with that mindset.

You may be asking yourself this: Where are you going with this Rachel?! I promise I do have a point! Which brings us back to the 3 R’s….

Relocation? Check! I have been living happily in the 90706 for 3 months and I honestly love it.

For the past month or so I have wrestled with the concept of reconciliation. How do I apply this biblical principal to my own personal life and more importantly how do I integrate this into my ministry?

Why is reconciliation necessary?

Look around you. You can see how the fall has affected the world around us. People building barriers around themselves. The division that exists between Gods people based on race, class, religion, age, etc.

As Christians we are called to be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation:’ 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 states:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[b] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

So how does this look like in the Cedar neighborhood?

As I get to know my neighbors on a much deeper level, I am beginning to see the brokenness in their lives. Broken relationships, financial hardship, a sense of longing for purpose.

It’s heart breaking. It can be very easy to think I have to ‘save’ my neighbors and ‘fix’ them.

But I must remember this, that I too, am broken.  It’s the first step in reconciliation. I may not share the same exact poverty as my neighbors, but I am broken. There are parts of me that are hurting and need healing, there are things I struggle with, or lack.

I can see the commonality that I share with all my neighbors-We are broken.
We alone cannot fix each other. But together Jesus can heal us.

I am realizing an interdependence that needs to happen between my neighbors and me. As I build relationships, and work to point my neighbors to Christ, they in turn teach me and embody what it looks like to receive his love, mercy, and grace, something that I need more and more each day. 

-Rachel De Los Reyes, Community Fellow