Last year, nine Greek students from University of New Hampshire and I headed to ServeUP Tampa, an Alternative Spring Break trip. While in Tampa, we found broken people, broken houses, broken systems. We talked with people who worked with women who were struggling to get out of the sex trade, we worked on an old motel that now functions as housing for these women whose lives are entangled in the sex trade. We saw systemic injustice that leads to house-lessness and creates a cycle that disallows our house-less friends to find housing.
Further, we found that we were part of that brokenness, that by being bystanders, by not doing anything we were a part of the problem. It was my privilege to be with these students as they discovered this brokenness, as they began to have their eyes opened to the need for Jesus in our world. Of five non-Christians that came with us, two decided to follow Jesus. One of the women, in a post-trip essay wrote,
“The most important takeaway from this trip was seeing the brokenness that is in myself. I am not a “good Christian.” I am sinful. And I am broken. I am loved though by Jesus and in His eyes I am enough, I need to be a follower of Jesus and say yes to Him. I did this on Wednesday night but I am still unwrapping what that really means. Its a scary process for sure, but I am comforted by the fact that I am not on this journey alone. I plan on seeking God when I get back to campus...my life is forever changed.”
Post-trip, it would have been easy to move on from the things we learned on ServeUP. But, in hoping to realize God’s heart for every person, we engaged in a conversation about multiethnicity. Students were presented with the issue of racism in our culture and even more closely in the Greek system. This was totally new territory, most of these students hadn’t heard much about how God values multiethnicity. In light of the events that have (and continue to) taken place in our nation the hope was that these students would have healing and clear words for their brothers and sisters.
Since that first step of faith these students have engaged in a journey of intense healing and reconciliation.
White fraternity men have listened as their black brothers talked about the injustices they’ve come up against their whole life.
Biracial sorority women have felt the freedom to identify as such, and been able to talk about the ways they’ve seen racism play out at the 5th least diverse national university.
They’ve lamented the state of our world and sought out their black brothers and sisters to come alongside them and start to feel the pain they feel.
They've asked the question,"What if the Greek system led UNH in racial reconciliation?"
We are praying that God would further this work and that the Greek system might be a place of healing, safety and reconciliation because of the way that the Gospel has worked in the lives of Greek students.
How has your life been changed by Alternative Spring Break trips or an Urban ministry experience?
What areas of racial division can you identify on campus? How might God be inviting you to cross those dividing lines to pursue reconciliation?