yves-story1.jpgFriends,

Greetings of Peace to you from Austin, Texas.

This summer, as you all know, is very different. However, I am grateful that the ongoing pandemic did not stop me from attending the Candler Advanced Summer Ministry Internship (ASMI) to serve and grow along with Violet Crown City Church here in Austin, learning about Church planting and fresh expressions, as well as deepening my engagements on social justice from a conflict transformation’s perspective.

Although things look different this summer, I have been surprised how God worked ahead of me in ways that helped me to grow in love and fellowship along with my first host family, Beth and Joseph (pictured above with Pastor Jay). We ate together almost everyday and played games in evenings. I had a chance to teach them a Swahili song and to cook as well. We visited the town and went out to the park—things that you can hardly believe I could do in a summer of the pandemic. I experienced God’s love, differently than usual during normal times when everybody is just super busy.

The internship of the pandemic is thus, one in which more attention and intentionality is created, one in which love takes the peaks. However, it is fair to also express the fatigue of online activities, as in person engagements have been very limited out of necessity. This time, I have learned more to navigate learning and teaching through Zoom and understand the central importance of technology in a minister’s life, or simply creativity.

Violet Crown City Church in Austin is a church plant that strives to rebuild God’s community with a belief such as valuing to share life over sharing beliefs and acknowledging differences in a more positive and constructive way. I picture God’s working in this community when I reflect about Jesus’ words in Mathew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”. When we look at today’s world, there is so much that divides us, we are so different from each other that if we pay more attention to what makes us different, we forget that we were all made in God’s sacred image. We often forget that we are the fruits of God’s first love.

So, Jesus is calling us in the ministry of the 21st century to look more like the original church, the Jesus movement. We are called to build churches’ movements that cross boundaries in order to be present and to listen, joining what God is already doing in each and everyone’s life. We are called to move from seeing conflict as a threat to conflict as an opportunity to exercise our faith, this faith that calls us to forgive, to have mercy, but most importantly to recognize our roles as Christians in a broken world and bring justice.

Over several weeks, we all have experienced how thousands of people hungered for justice for Black communities who still face systemic oppression. As Christians, our part as a church that crosses boundaries is to move from a place of comfort to a place of compassion, solidary and action. Over these weeks I have been challenged by thoughts from The Church as a Movement by JR Woodward and Dan White Jr. These authors argue from a ministry experience point of view that “being movemental is recovering a way of being the church of God in the way of Christ and in power of the spirit, and allowing God to bring fruit whatever way he sees fit.”

As the pandemic continues, I continue to have faith and pray that the Lord Jesus, who existed before all ages, who owned the power of creation at the beginning as the scripture tells us, will restore us and heal us when his hour comes.