Over the summer, 8 students from Furman University and Claflin University came together and lived in the Vista House. As part of our Servant Scholars program, these young adults interned at poverty alleviating organizations in Greenville; participated in morning prayer each day with one another; read various books about spiritual disciplines, poverty alleviation, and Christian community; and engaged in important dialogue about the realities of our broken world. Here are 2 reflections from Will Lorenz and Sun Lee about their experiences of living in intentional community; navigating the complexities of living in Christian community with people different from yourself; and building relationships with our brothers and sisters living in poverty.
"The night we addressed the Charleston shooting as a community was a really eye opening and emotional night for me. As I approached this summer, I thought I would act as I always have. I would not see our differences, only our commonalities as brothers and sisters in Christ. I quickly realized that my way of handling the situation is not the best way, and may even be a cover-up for the differences that I really see between the guys and girls in the house. The fact that I purposefully ignore differences between us is proof that I see differences. I am learning that seeing differences isn’t bad, but it is how we react to the differences between us that is important. It is important to love, celebrate, and support differences, instead of disliking or ignoring them all together.
Living in this Christian community has helped me to recognize the systemic evil that is pervasive within our culture and has given me the will power to try and fix it. Important steps to take are being able to recognize the differences between us in the house, and be cognizant that others in our surrounding communities see them too. This means being open to see when we are being stared at as a group when we are in public or driving in a car. It is having the courage to embrace the differences between us and show people in the community that it is possible not only for us to just get along, but to live together in intentional Christian community. I think we all would have a much harder time living together in community if not for the beautiful message of forgiveness and grace that is woven throughout the Gospel. As we continue to live our lives together, we will continue to make mistakes in the ways we treat each other and not live together as well as we possibly could, but with the great news of the Gospel we are given the power to make mistakes and learn from each other as we try to love each other as God loves us.” - Will Lorenz
"God wants me to be His partner. To be a good partner of Him, it is necessary to know what God is doing in this world, what His goal is, and what our mission is. In Manna and Mercy, the author Daniel Erlander states that God wants to have relationship with humans by teaching us how to live. Then other people will learn how to live from us so that eventually “the day of Shalom will come to all humans and to the whole nation (6).” That is, mending the universe or building a kingdom of God on earth means to bring the day of Shalom to earth. I understand the term “the day of Shalom” as the day when all humans love God and each other, which leads me to conclude that being a partner with God is spreading love in the world, helping others realize that God loves them.
God loves each one of humans. Everyone is valuable and created equally. In this world, however, inequality exists. Some people have more than others. While some people enjoy a life of luxury, other people suffer in hunger and thirst. Some people grow up in healthy and stable environment while other people grow up being abused and bullied. This unfair world is caused by greedy and selfish humans. We are not satisfied with what we have and want more and more.
By serving others, a kingdom where everyone has enough can be built. God has provided everything we have. He has provided equally to us originally but the unequal world has been created because our selfishness. In God’s work of mending the universe, it is our job to share what we have with those who do not have. Because that is what God intended in the first place. And if we share what we have with others who do not have, they will see the difference in us. Ultimately they will see God’s love, and appreciate it. I believe in this way we can become partner people of God in his work of mending the universe." - Sun Lee