I like moments that reaffirm the work that DOOR is involved in. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, evaluations are not the favorite part of my work. I know that they are important but I have not learned how to de-personalize critiques. Last week our Chicago program hosted three groups, two Mennonite churches from Winnipeg and a group of urban youth from Colorado Uplift. I know something about Mennonites from Winnipeg, many of my relatives live in the area. I also know some of the staff from Colorado Uplift, we worship at the same church and work in the same neighborhoods.
I was a little worried about haw the week would go. From my perspective their backgrounds and world views were almost too different. Would these young people fall into the trap of stereotyping each other? Would they be afraid of each other? Was this going to be a week with bad evaluations?
I haven’t seen the evaluations yet, but I have heard a few stories. On Monday night our Chicago city director tried a new “get-to-know each other” activity. Every dinner table needed to include someone from each country. Monday went so well that the participants demanded that this rule remain for the rest of the week.
As the week progressed something special happened. Canadian and American distinctions began to fade. A space was created to share openly about similarities and differences between Canadian Mennonite and Urban American lifestyles, musical tastes, racial differences, hair styling issues, and faith concerns.
By the end of the week, a group picture became a must and international friendships and cross cultural understandings had been forged. As Chris, a Discern Staff intern, was getting ready to take the picture, instead of asking everyone to say “cheese” he asked them to say “one-body.” In his mind this was not a cheesy moment; this was a moment where the kingdom of God had become a reality.
In less than one week young people, from very different backgrounds, cultures and faith-understandings chose to move past their differences and forge an unanticipated unity. Stories like this remind me of why DOOR exists.