EMBERS stories: It’s about their friends

November 28, 2016

EMBERS, Uncategorized

As a part of our EMBERS community launch, we’ve asked members of the Global Immersion family to share why they are choosing to invest into the Global Immersion movement.

On the night of the 2016 election, I sat glued to my television, watching the Presidential returns come in. As the night wore on and Donald Trump’s lead grew, my heart sank.

That’s when my phone began dinging.

I received text after text from the high school students I pastor who had participated in the Global Immersion Project’s Immigrant’s Journey Learning Lab last summer in San Diego and Tijuana.

Are you watching?

I can’t believe this is happening.

I’m sitting here in tears.

What’s going to happen to all our immigrant friends?

Ever since last summer’s trip, my students and I have been engaging in these kinds of conversations,

wrestling with what it means to be Everyday Peacemakers in a country that seems to be growing more and more divided.

For my students who participated in the Learning Lab, this election was not about statistics. It wasn’t about faceless Mexicans invading our country.

It was about their friends.

It was about Noemi, a woman they met who’d come illegally as a child, brought to the United States by her parents. She’d grown up American, her illegal status unknown to her until she applied for college and realized she couldn’t go. She explained to our team about what it was like to apply for and receive DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She also shared her fears that if Trump was elected, her legal status would be revoked. Afterward, one of our curators shared how for her, elections sometimes feel frustrating and inconvenient. But for so many people, they’re a matter of life and death.

That comment stuck with my students.

This year as they’ve navigated an election in which “The Wall” was often talked about and frequently debated, they told the stories they learned and witnessed while on their learning lab. They posted pictures of the wall on social media with captions countering the belief that our borders our “open”.

Throughout the election season, they engaged people in conversations. Rather than run from those with whom they disagreed,

they implemented the peacemaking framework they learned in Tijuana and San Diego:

They saw (and listened), immersed, contended, and worked toward restoration.

Even though they learned this framework 2000 miles away from where they reside, this election season has given my students an opportunity to live them out here, in the suburbs of Chicago, in high schools, work places, and on college campuses.

Because of their experience with The Global Immersion Project, my teens are aware that while they may be inconvenienced for the next four years, there are some for whom this election is catastrophic.

Rather than feel helpless, my students now know they are everyday peacemakers. And so they continue to see, immerse, contend, and work towards restoration – not just while they’re on a trip, but throughout their everyday lives.

They know that the work of everyday peacemaking matters now more than ever.

They saw that this summer in Tijuana and San Diego.

They heard the need for it after every Presidential debate.

And they felt it on election night as they wept on behalf of their friends, determined to stand in solidarity with them, advocating with and for them.

It’s because of the transformation that I saw in my student’s lives and the transformation that is needed in our country that I’m joining the EMBERS community and choosing to prioritize Everyday Peacemaking in my life. Join me?

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About the Author:

Jen Bradbury serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen is also the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus and The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel).When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling with their daughter, Hope. 

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