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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

Consider the Ravens // SAUP 2018

 SAUP family visiting the West side

SAUP family visiting the West side

Somehow, week one of SAUP has flown by. Between getting oriented to the SAUP rule of life, making visits to and observations about various neighborhoods throughout the city and getting into our work at our ministry sites, our days have been packed from morning to midnight. We read and bible study, we cook, we pray, we play (lots of board games) and paint with our fingers. Then, we wake up to do it all over again.

For me, the journey thus far has been a story of the birds. On our first day at Servant Partners, an organization focusing on incarnational ministry through church planting, our first task was to engage in the community with a prayer walk. Mark, the pastor with whom we are working, encouraged us to look for the good and the beautiful. In neighborhoods like our site in the East Side, that struggle with poverty and other injustices, it is especially important to take note of the ways that God is working. Indeed, the streets were teeming with life, as a jungle of blooming trees fed in from either side of the sidewalk. Birds of all kinds hopped, sang and flew past us. Their songs and feathers were a testament to God’s creation, as well as his provision: “they do not sow or reap… yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than the birds!” (Luke 12:24). Watching the birds set the tone for working with purpose at our ministry sites and preparing ourselves to live five more weeks on the floor of a church hall.

In the face of some very real and intense struggles, both planned and unforeseen, the Christ-centered nature of our SAUP family been our comfort. And his kingdom is like a mustard seed: starting small but growing grand enough so that the birds of the air may find shelter in its branches.

Hope Fa-Kaji
Rice University