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Who assigns value to a person? // SAUP 2018

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The theme of the second justice week for me was value. Society decides the value of each of us by how badly colleges want you, how easy it is for you to get a job, how media portrays people like you, and the list goes on. The activities we did, the documentaries we watched and the stories we heard revealed a gap in the value between racial and socioeconomic groups. Most people would like to believe the days of three-fifths citizenship for African Americans are over but in Texas our school districts are drawn so that the local tax dollars of richer, mostly white families aren’t shared with poorer, less valued, minority communities. We learned about one of the most modern attempts at integration which resulted in angry protests by parents concerned with violent behavior, and unprecedented government intervention. We cannot claim to be champions of equality while our schools are segregated to the very real detriment of minority communities. We live as though black children devalue our schools.

One documentary followed a small Chinese bank that was the only bank prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 collapse. The message is clear, “your bank is not valuable, we can make an example of it.” With value comes visibility and the ability to have your voice heard. As a white male I will rarely have to fight to have my point of view known, it is constantly held up as the normal perspective by the media, entertainment, and marketing industries. I know that if there is an issue facing my community it will be addressed, and that should be the same for others but it is not.  Thankfully, we serve a God who sees everyone as valuable (Imago Dei) and I pray that I can see and advocate for those with "diminished value" in our society.

Matthew White
UTD

"Am I wasting a summer of my life?"

Daniel, one of the students we took to Panama, got to share his story this past weekend at our Student Training in Missions (STiM).  Daniel is an engineering student at the University of Houston, a Senior, and about to move to the inner city of Memphis to get a Masters in Teaching.  As a student who moved with his family from Nigeria, Daniel chose an engineering degree to make his parents proud and to be able to provide for his family.  But while he was in Panama this summer, God had other plans for Daniel.  Little did he know, God was opening his heart to teach!  Daniel taught English his last two weeks in Panama and loved it!  Despite the language barrier, Daniel realized he had a passion to teach and he wanted to teach in a place in need.  The immediate call is to go to the inner city of Memphis, TN and while teaching, earn a Masters degree in teaching to be able to teach wherever God may lead him next.  

As I sat on the bus with Daniel on the way to our Mid Project Retreat, I remember him feeling distraught and not understanding why God had brought him to Panama.  At this time, he was wondering if he had wasted a summer of his life on a missions trip that he had spent so much time preparing for and missed a summer to make some money for his Senior year.  The impact of Daniel's summer continues to be revealed to him as he opened up his eyes and his heart to what God was showing him.  

- Heidi Kennedy, Panama Missions Director.