Reflection & Reconciliation by David Jante & Jane Yeong

 SAUP 2016  week 4

Throughout SAUP we have been challenged with different topics from community to justice to reconciliation.  I would say that my perspective and understanding of these topics has been broadened.

To me, reconciliation is one of those buzzwords that has been thrown around a lot, especially as a student of InterVarsity.  I think many people, myself included, often times unintentionally use the word reconcile when they actually just mean forgiveness.  The two are similar, but I think that reconciliation is forgiveness to the next level.  Reconciliation includes a forgiveness of others AND a clean perspective of the scenario at hand.  There are no grudges in true reconciliation.  

To truly reconcile, we need to look at the three ways we are connected to this world.  The first is personally.  It is only in Christ that we can personally forgive ourselves of the hurt and pain that we have given and have received.  There is so much hope in 2 Corinthians 5:16,17 because those in Christ are new creations!  In Him we are freed from sin.  In Him, we are freed from fear and our shortcomings.  Christ says His love controls us and doesn't regard us according to the flesh.

From this, our personal reconciliation can overflow into our relationships.  The same way we view ourselves in Christ is the way we should view others around us.  They too are not just their flesh, they too have nothing to fear if they share their struggles with us and they too can have this love from Christ if they are willing.  The way we view our relationships should change so that we hold nothing against anyone.  

Finally, we need to reconcile ourselves to the systems of this world.  Whether it is racism or poverty, we cannot simply stand on the sidelines and wait for someone to enter the battle.  God wants us to be the ones spreading this message of reconciliation and the Gospel according to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.  So instead of just observing these injustices, God wants our hearts to hurt for the pain being experienced in unnecessary shootings, underpaid labor and broken families.  Hopefully, this pain in our hearts would lead us to action.  However, we must remember that we only act because we remember God's actions of love and God's reconciliation to us.  Only then are our actions meaningful and we truly believe that His love and reconciliation are worth sharing.

David Jante
University of Houston

When I first heard that we were going to talk about reconciliation, in my head, I was like "Oh, hmm, I don't really hold grudges and I don't think there are people that I need to reconcile with, so this week should be pretty peaceful, yay!"  Little did I know, God had something else in store and told me not to be foolish.  

Throughout the week, I had time to reflect about my past and I realized that I have actually experienced more hurt that I expected.  After one session where we learned more about forgiveness, I asked God to reveal to me the people I needed to forgive in my life, and suddenly, all these feelings from the past kept coming to my mind.  That was when I realized that deep down, I  had never really extended forgiveness to them.  I was puzzled.  I thought I was over the pain and that I had moved on.  I started digging deeper and deeper, trying to find the root and the reason for the hurt.  Through prayer and advice from staff, I found the answer.  All these years, I have been forgiving people out of my own will.  I forgave them so I could feel better about myself.  I forgave because I wanted to be free of the pain and hurt.  But truthfully, I have just been shoving all of these feelings into a box and putting a temporary lock on the box.  The pain and the hurt were still there.  I was just avoiding it and had not experienced true healing.  

I've learned that one can only forgive when we truly understand that God has forgiven us and empowers us to forgive others.  We personally don't have the resources to forgive.  Through God, we will find true healing for ourselves and are able to forgive others that have hurt us.  After understanding this true narrative and truly letting God into my heart, I was able to slowly extend grace upon the people who have hurt me in the past.  It took a lot of prayer and time to do so, but after I did it, I felt a huge sense of relief.  My heart, my mind, and my soul were all at peace.  That was the moment I started my reconciliation journey.  I am currently still in the process of healing, but now that I've learned that God has given us all a message of reconciliation when He reconciled the world to Himself, I am able to confront myself and the people who have hurt me with the ability to forgive. 

Jane Yeong
Texas A&M AAIV

Experiencing Injustice by Dhara Patel

Night of Lament for injustice in the world, SAUP 2016

Night of Lament for injustice in the world, SAUP 2016

 SAUP week 3

Why?  Why do bad things happen?  During the week of exploring justice, this was the question running through my mind and still does sometimes.  We learned about the working poor, immigrants and the homeless community and were given the opportunity to learn and experience more about each group.  I learned more about the homeless community because I already knew some information on the working poor and immigrants since my parents were part of both.  

I remember being scared that my parents would be taken away from me or that we wouldn't have enough money for dinner because of those situations that were at hand.  I was the only one in my immediate family born in the U.S., so I always felt I would be left alone.  The feeling of loneliness really hit home this week because it made me realize how much more the homeless community lives in isolation.  When I was walking around communities where the homeless congregate in San Antonio, most people were alone, without anyone.  When people asked me how I was taking everything in regarding the homeless community, I was at a loss for words.  I felt like I was wearing a pair of sunglasses that kept blocking the light from me that Jesus intended for me to see.  

After I got the chance to debrief with a staff, I was able to see God's promises at work in all His people  I was able to see the hope and joy through trials and tribulations.  Everyone has their own set of troubles, and we are here to show that light is possible to attain.  God is not doing the injustice, instead, He is waiting for us to do something about those injustices.

Dhara Patel
Texas A&M Thrive

Sabbath & Spiritual Formation by Josh David & Kyla Smith

 SAUP Week 2

Greetings family and friends!

I'm proud to share that being here in San Antonio has not made me into a Spurs fan! My SAUP family and I are all experiencing God at work.  We've all been physically, mentally and even spiritually challenged.  Stepping out of our comfort zones with each other for seven weeks will force us to rely on God. 

So far, my favorite memory from SAUP was spending my Sabbath day with the SAUP crew.  It was probably my first time exercising Sabbath for the whole day!  The Sabbath demands trust and faith from God.  Our Sabbath also included a lot of space for reflection.  Spending all that time with God, the SAUP family, eating (probably my favorite thing to do!), playing games, singing songs, talking about life, sharing what the Lord has done in our lives so far and resting from our first week working at our different ministry sites was great.  Since that Sabbath, I've already constructed a schedule for after this mission trip to continue practicing the Sabbath in my life in college.

It's been amazing to see and hear the great things God is doing in the community of San Antonio and our community here at SAUP.  Please pray for us as we continue to try to reflect Christ as a community.

Josh David
University of North Texas

One of the very first things I learned at SAUP was what spiritual formation actually was.  Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.  When living in a community, your spiritual formation plays a very important role.  Still, we have to realize that it comes in steps (it's a process!) and we must follow those steps in order to truly live in the Kingdom of God.

The first step is realizing it is a process.  When God brings you into a different setting, you cannot expect it to be easy or even the same as other times.  The second step is to be conformed. You won't just be conformed to Him on the inside, but also on the outside.  The third step is to be an image bearer of Christ.   You will have to remember that God is changing you to do the work of His Kingdom.  The people we are meant to interact with need us to be the image bearers of Christ so that when they see us, they see Christ as well.  It is for the sake of others that we are conformed into the image of Christ.  

So far my journey has been nothing but eye opening to be able to see what God is doing on the East side of San Antonio as I work with Servant Partners.  From the people I intern with to the people we encounter daily - I see God in new ways.  I'm thankful for this opportunity!

Kyla Smith
Texas Southern University

Imagine by Nancy Li

SAUP family 2016

Imagine living with a group of 18-20 college students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and values, including students who have primarily been immersed in ethnic-specific fellowships, and those who have experienced only ethnic-specific fellowships; students who mainly identify as extroverts and those who mostly see themselves as introverts; those who don’t mind being late and those who value punctuality.

Now, imagine this group of vastly different individuals doing a simple and sometimes tension-filled task: coming together to plan and budget meals for one week, during which students become frustrated, disengaged, and confused.

In case you have not realized yet, I have been describing my SAUP (San Antonio Urban Project) community, a group of people with a big heart for Jesus and good yet different values that can sometimes clash with each other. Together, we have done activities and tasks that have taught us more about each other and ourselves and created joyous and frustrating moments. These things include doing activities that reveal our personalities, driving to sites together while being anxious about being unpunctual and geographically lost, recognizing during our meetings about budgeting and food that not everyone grows up eating the same things, and meeting potentially life-long friends that share the same spiritual backgrounds and personalities.

Throughout these six weeks, I pray that God will growing our hearts and transform us so that we can become a community-centered SAUP family that gives the Good News to our neighborhoods and witness God transforming San Antonio for His Kingdom. In order to become such a community, we need to be one that is willing to learn about each other’s cultures and upbringing and engage with them in a grace-filled and Spirit-filled way. I pray that we can do this in all parts of our lives so that we be filled with the Spirit and grace as we witness and spread God’s love in San Antonio. I hope that you can join us in praying for our SAUP community and San Antonio.

Nancy Li