Mission: to Amplify Compassion by amplifying marginalized voices in our community, including those marginalized by their race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or any others searching for equity. We will help challenge our congregation to amplify justice, mercy, and humility to create a more compassionate church.

Reflection – by Lynn Fayssoux

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to be a part of the ministry organization Young Life. For those who don’t know what young life does, it is a mentorship program of sorts that places leaders at schools where their goal is to reach “every kid everywhere with the Gospel.” The mission of the program is what drew me to it because I knew in the deepest part of my heart that there were kids out there, lots of them, who had never heard of Jesus, and I hated it for them. 

The issue with having a high lofty goal of reaching every kid is that it is not easy to do. You cannot just go to youth groups and Sunday school to reach every kid. Young life knows this. And so as a Young Life leader, I spent my college days coaching middle school sports, taking kids to get ice cream after school, driving them to the park for Saturday adventures, and sitting in the stands at high school football games trying to talk to kids I didn't know. Do you know how awkward it is to hang out in the student section, trying to talk to high school students at a school you don't even go to? Showing up to those football games was one of the hardest things I have ever done. So why did I do it? To build relationships.

When Jesus came down from heaven to do ministry on Earth, he met us in our mud puddle. He went to dinner with sinners, talked with Samaritan women, and spent his days with the lowliest of tax collectors and fishermen. He met us where we were at, even though he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He gave us the best example possible of what it looks like to be a friend to all people. He built relationships with them. He didn't hand out fliers or build his set of friends and followers based on their qualifications or because of their differences. He didn't add followers to add clout and recognition to his name. He didn't add followers who were different from him because it would make him look better or reach an agenda. He did it out of genuine, unconditional love.

I think when we get caught up in focusing on diversity, we too often forget that it isn't about just numbers. In all of our sectors of life, in schools, in jobs, to really create positive interracial relationships and diverse neighborhoods, schools, churches, and environments, I believe boils down to building relationships. Why is it that we are so quick to post something about racial injustice or diversity or another of the many buzzwords on social media, yet unwilling to make a friend with someone different from us? Diversity is not an agenda; it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle of love that should exist in every Christian everywhere. It should not matter what a person looks like, what they wear, or where they are in their lives. As Christians, we are called to act as Christ and walk beside every person we interact with as a friend. A true friend. One without an agenda or conditions, but with the genuine goal of building a relationship that lasts through differences, trials, and life changes.

I believe we don't build relationships with people who are different from us because it is out of our comfort zone. It was hard to show up at a high school football game and chat with high school kids who had 12 piercings or cared more about makeup than I ever considered possible. But as I did this, I realized that these kids I thought were so different from me were really not very different. I gained new lenses from seeing the world each time I met someone different. Building true relationships requires us to go out of our comfort zone both physically and mentally, but it has long-lasting rewards in the long run. When I look back at those cold fall evenings spent on the football bleachers, I have some of the best memories in my life because there are faces and lessons connected to those evenings. I was not just there to share a message and leave; I was there to make friends that I still have to this day.

As we strive to attain diversity in our lives and our communities, may it be a real, genuine diversity rather than just a 'show' that we are putting on to impress others or a 'trend' that will quickly fade. As a church, I hope that we can push ourselves out of comfortable places into locations and mindsets that allow us to build relationships that turn into long-lasting, fruitful friendships in the years to come.

Join A Tu Lado - a ministry opportunity through the Migrant Assistance Project in which houses of faith partner with an immigrant family and walk with them on their journey through the immigration process in the U.S. If you are interested in joining an A Tu Lado team at Dilworth UMC please reach out to Pastor Cade for more information.

Suggested Resources
 Watch: The Disturbing History of the Suburbs by Adam Ruins Everything
Read: The Controversial History of Levittown, America's First Suburb by Noah Sheidlower
Listen: 74 Seconds Episode 8: Yanez's Partner Testifies
Check Out: History South – Historic West End Walking Tour

Join the Amplify Book Club as we read and discuss "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson. If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, click here to purchase a copy of the book and please reach out to Pastor Cade to express interest.

Are you interested in sharing a reflection in the Amplify newsletter? If you feel called to share a story, testimony, or devotion related to diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation, please reach out to Pastor Cade. The Amplify Team is open to all members who feel passionate about shaping our conversation and working for justice in and through Dilworth UMC. Please contact Pastor Cade to become a part of this important ministry.

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