Have We Gone Too Fast?

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“Raising up a generation of Latino and Hispanic leaders to change the world.”

This is the phrase that you see and hear often in Destino. It is our purpose, what we hope for and move towards. I’ve been thinking lately about this phrase and asking some deeper questions related to it. Like, why is it that this vision statement has yet to be fulfilled? In what ways have we tried and seen success? In what ways have we failed? How have we seen the Lord work in the 16 years we’ve been alive as a ministry? How have we not? Why?

But a bigger question surfaced in me as I was reading Reconciling All Things. It is a book about justice and seeking individual, interpersonal, and systemic reconciliation within different cultures and ministries. As I was reading, I realized that our vision in Destino that we are working towards really is, in many ways, a ministry of reconciliation and justice. We are seeking to include the excluded in the works of the Lord in the world around us. We are wanting to see God raise up a marginalized culture to be a part of bringing more of His kingdom to earth. Which brings me to the question I asked related to a quote from the book. In one of the chapters, the author talks about lament and how for true reconciliation to happen we need to “unlearn speed” and seek to listen and enter into story and experiences around us. From there he says :

This raises, once again, the problem of starting with the “what do we do?” question. The problem with this question is that it never interrogates the “we”.

So the question I’m asking now is, “Have we been so eager to get to the ‘what do we do?’ question in our ministry of reconciliation that we haven’t ‘interrogated the we’?” Have we moved too quickly forward, eager to make up for 60 years of missing it with ethnic minorities, that we haven’t stopped to first look at our own brokeness and push into why it is we are where we are now? This seems key to a future of real hope that has deep roots in reality.

Now I realize I’m talking about an organization that loves to act and do. We are practitioners to the core, eager to get things done and make things happen. But what if the way of the kingdom is different for the vision we are seeking to bring to fruition? What if we need to first reflect and answer some harder question directed at our own hearts? Have we done that? Have we really unlearned speed in this? I’m not confident we have.

So, as we fight for a greater future of Latinos being mobilized and sent, let us be the kind of people that can be self-critical and “interrogate the we”. Where has our own blindness, broken character, or marred identity been compliant in a system that has excluded Latinos from this picture? Where do we need to come along side the experiences of those we thought we came to “save” in order for we ourselves to be the ones rescued? Where do we need transformation before we can see a whole injustice transformed and restored to how God intended?

I pray for this to be true of us.

photo courtesy: warzauwynn

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Posted on November 21, 2012

About destinokristy

A Latina, DestinoKristy served with Destino from 2008-2013.

12 Responses to Have We Gone Too Fast?

  1. BVirtue says:

    Kristy – glad you posted. intrigued by that book. I’ve been working through similar questions and dynamics.  I think this is a huge issue, but the issue I don’t think is about speed.  That’s the symptom. There’s an embedded arrogance when you have to be the one to solve the problem even though you are the outsider.  So the speed and pragmatic effort to solve the problem and keep working I think maybe is just in part a way of avoiding reality.  But this speaks to the dark side of paternalism and how self-serving it can truly be – where you try to solve the problem in a way that doesn’t change the order of things and brings no fundamental heart change.  It can end up as an exercise in guilt alleviation rather than transformational dialogue.

    It still blows my mind how rare ethnic minority leaders are asked from their majority culture peers (of which I am one), “What are you doing? How can we help? What do you think is best?”  These questions just about never get asked.  It’s assumed we can solve the problem without you (ethnic minority leadership).  So this whole dynamic is a big deal because it exposes whether true servant leadership is taking place.  A lot of people think they are “serving,” in fact most do.  But I think it would surprise a lot of people just who in fact they are serving.

    I sat down today to begin writing on this and related themes so this is a great kick start for me.

    • destinokristy says:

      Appreciate your thoughts, Brian. Yes, I agree speed isn’t the problem but a symptom that keeps people from having to look at their own hearts.  The book talks about speed as it relates to lament, that you can’t really grieve if you aren’t willing to slow down.  

      What you said about majority culture assuming they can do it without the ethnic minority voice is so unfortunately true. Part of what I struggle with is that when ethnic minorities communicate that they aren’t being heard, that is often rejected too. Honestly, I can’t fully wrap my head around this, but I feel it and know that I have my finger on something important.  I’m anxious to read what you are writing.  

  2. DestinoKristy and BVirtue, I think both of you are absolutely on target. It would bless many if Destino went down the path(s) of which you write. Rudy

    • destinokristy says:

      Thanks so much, Rudy.  I do pray this is the direction Destino goes as a ministry.  Thanks for commenting.  I so respect what you do and your work with CCDA.

  3. LaurenP says:

     Kristy, I am thankful that you shared this because it has caused me to pause, slow down, and do a bit of interrogation in to my own heart.

    When I think back (a short year ago) about what drove us to join staff with Destino it was mainly focused on the people we were going to “reach.” I was motivated and compelled to see a place where Latino students could hear and experience the Gospel in a place that
    celebrated both their culture and the message of Jesus. And while that vision still compels me, I can now see that God was calling us to Destino not because of what He wanted us to do but because of what He wants to do in us.

    For me the process of interrogating my own heart began with first recognizing the thick lens in which I see the world through. Before this year, I can honestly admit I had not
    stopped to realize how deeply my own culture affects not just the food I eat or the traditions I celebrate, but the way the way I value people and time, how I interact in groups, the way I read the Bible and even how I communicate the Gospel. Once I realized this I began asking of myself, “what am I not seeing because of these thick lens?”

    But to answer that I do have to, like you said, slow down and not move too quickly to the “what do we do?” question. It also takes me relying upon and learning from others who wear a different set of lens. And that’s a good thing. The more I listen the more I realize my own brokenness and need to keep reflecting and keep interrogating.

    • destinokristy says:

      Loved this, Lauren. Thanks so much for sharing some of your journey here and inviting us into the ways God has opened your own eyes and changed you as you’ve been in Destino.  You are a blessing to have in our ministry.  

      I totally agree that leaning into the learnings and experiences of those that wear different cultural lenses gives us a consistent way to keep looking inward. It also keeps us from moving too quickly towards answers. I loved how you pointed out too that you began to understand how culture not only influenced the parts of your life that were observable like the food you ate or traditions you celebrated, but also deeper things like even the way you read the Scriptures.  

      Again, thanks for commenting and sharing! I appreciate that you and Kai are able to ask some harder questions of yourselves and “interrogate the we”.  That takes a lot of courage and it is rare.  But, like you shared here, there is so much life, transformation, and conversion that can come from being open to examining our own hearts.

      I’m thankful for who you are, Lauren! 

  4. Lindsay Y. says:

    Kristy, Lauren and Brian-

    Reading your dialogue is refreshing and convicting to me in ways, and on levels, I don’t yet fully understand.  Thinking through the implications of speed as a symptom is pretty significant.  As we’ve been reading and discussing these things, I keep coming back to the fact that people being able to truly ”see,” and be converted to, the realities of cost incurred by speed, pragmatism, distance, injustice, etc. isn’t purely about learning or exposure. Sadly, I don’t even think it’s simply about relationship (though apart from that it’s impossible).  I’m starting to wrestle with whether seeing and grasping these things is a gift that can’t ge received apart from deep humility… to which subtle, easily missed, and often glossed over arrogance will be a primary barrier.  And what is the arrogance masking?

    As I write this, I find myself in the midst of significant light being shed on my own patterns of paternalism… even as I have close friends, whom I deeply respect and desire to see supported and empowered as ethnic minorities, in positions of influence and organizational leadership.  If I’m honest, this paternalism is much more about my own need for significance, voice, and power than their need for my support or service.  It’s pretty amazing to me how natural it is to create dependance, or unconsciously to try to, in serving someone else. 

    Lauren, your comments about serving in Destino being as much about the things Lord wants to do in your transformation as in those whom you’re desiring to “reach” got me thinking about paternalism in a converse way.  Essentially, they “need” me far less than I need them to need me.  As long as personally, and organizationally, I’m threatened by a shift or change in that need, nothing will ever change.  Beyond that, the stronger, more empowered ethnic minority leaders becomes, the more my signficance, voice and power will potentially feel threatened… in ways that I assume will cause me to need to keep them down in order that I may remain one-up.  This is both a sober and dangerous dynamic I’m thinking…

    What do you guys thinK?    

    • destinokristy says:

      Thanks for jumping in the dialogue, Lindsay.  There is some real depth to what you’re sharing here and am thankful for your honest reflections. This sentence stood out to me: “Essentially, they “need” me far less than I need them to need me.”
      Wow.  What are some ways you’ve seen God change your own heart in this perspective and how do you think you could potentially walk others through that same process?  Such a significant statement.

      Thanks again for sharing, Lindsay.  Always appreciate your thoughts. 

  5. Kelly Woodman says:

    I started to respond to this and then my computer died. Bu I am thankful that I am just reading this now. I appreciate the way that many of you are digesting and dialgoguing in response to Kristy’s post.

    I must say that I am guilty of the very paternalism that both Brian and Lindsay mentioned. And I think that what is really hard is that these past couple of years, I do feel like The Lord is working in me. And yet, the restructuring of 35 years of “white culture ” thinking engrained in me, which has in turn become my automatic response to so many problems is tedious and stressful at time. This is not to say that I do not want my perspective to change I do. I would love for it to come quicker then it is. But in the end, I am thankful for the opportunity to hear what you are all processing.

    Kristy, I am thankful that you challenge the status quo of our organization, calling us to a place where The Lord can really continue to sanctify our hearts.

    • destinokristy says:

      Kelly, thanks for sharing and engaging the post.  Appreciate you so much and your willingness to “interrogate the we” asking harder questions and wanting the Lord to change you in deep ways that are ingrained and instinctive sometimes.  I totally get the desire to want transformation to happen quickly. I agree, this is a slow process in anybody including me.  What I appreciate about you is that you are even willing to slow down enough to ask some of these questions. That is no small thing.  As we become aware and learn to see the places where we tend towards paternalistic attitudes, we open up the door for God to use others to change us and grow us to be more like Himself.  I appreciate you and Jason’s hearts and posture towards all of this.  Praying for all of us in these things,and I am hopeful that we can move towards a reconciled and redemptive future together.  

  6. Wendy Sanchez says:

    this was very thought-provoking. to be a learner, i have to start by admitting i don’t know and then seek to learn, to listen. to examine my heart, i need the courage (and the time, as you’re alluding to) to look inside, willing to see what is there, not just what i want to be there.  and i need peer relationships with people from many cultures.  i think our parent organization has put a great emphasis on doing this when people go overseas. why don’t we take that same mindset into cross-cultural settings here?  some is pride, do i really believe there are true leaders in many settings? or do i just want to create leaders like the model i know from my culture?  this is impossible work without the Holy Spirit. 

    • destinokristy says:

      Wendy,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree, this is all a work of the Spirit as we seek to be ministers of reconciliation.  For God to break through our myopic vision and show us that there is much to be gained as we enter into a different culture, especially in an ethnic minority context, is a work of Him in us. 

      I agree we do a better job of training cross-cultural ministers when we send them overseas as an organization, but I’m not sure we are really great at it.  I remember being surprised by our reputation overseas among other missionaries.  We were seen as aggressive people that didn’t tend to enter into a culture with a posture of a learner.  At the time as new staff overseas, I just assumed other missionaries were envious of our “results”. I now see how much pride their was in my own heart back then (and I’m sure now as well).  

      There is also so much missed in how the larger org trains people in cross-cultural ministry right now as it relates to majority/minority dynamics. It is really different than going from one majority culture to another. I often wonder if we do a good job of reaching any ethnic minority group in any country? I do think that this is a unique role that Destino could play in global missions.  Maybe our ethnic minority story will help us relate in unique ways to these people around the world? 

      Again, thanks for engaging this, Wendy.  I also agree that when we have relationships with people of other cultures, and seek to see the world through their eyes, we can experience more of God by beginning to see Him through new lenses.

      Praying for you and Louis as you begin to serve with Destino!