“So, why did you choose South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice as your placement?”
This was a question asked to me during a conversation with a cool Discover group from UNC Lutheran Ministry. I have been fortunate enough to interact with a few of amazing mission groups who come to Miami to serve and learn through DOOR. First time I was invited to speak alone (without my super knowledgeable supervisor) about the work SFIWJ does, I was incredibly nervous but it turned out better than I could ever hope for and I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with such an open and enthusiastic group who wanted to learn about the work we do as an organization.
Tonight, I was invited to speak again and meet with a wonderful, engaging group of UNC students in Lutheran Ministry (Yay, Carolina!). I thought I could do better at explaining what we do and what we try to do to serve workers in our community. From an organizational stand point, I have witnessed and have been a part of a coalition of passionate people who work hard everyday so that people who are overlooked and abused in their workplaces and community will be able to stand with dignity and respect. Everyone has different ways, ideas, and values that they bring to the table, but the key reason that motivatea these different groups to work together is the people. And, through SFIWJ, I have learned and am still learning to do that. Stand with people in solidarity. Because we are all people who deserve respect and grace from one another.
Nevertheless, when the question above was posed to me tonight I was a little taken aback. Not in a bad way. I just had to shift gear to why I was working at SFIWJ to do the work I do, not why SFIWJ work as an organization. A brief flashback of my discerning process went through my mind. I remember coming to that decision with hesitancy. It wasn’t because I thought SFIWJ was a horrible organization or thought that the work was not worthwhile. The people, the issue, the heart. They are extremely important and shared core among most of people who work in this field and they bring everyone together to work towards better and improved lives for people. But, why was I doing it?
Initially, my hope and my dream doing a service year were that the work I take part in would have Jesus’ name on it. I came to this program hoping to put faith into action. Beyond my faith, I wanted the work and ministry I took part in to be done under the name of Christ. And, SFIWJ, an amazing organization representing multiple faith communities was not the most perfect example of what I envisioned. In the end though, it really didn’t matter what I envisioned. Because to be very truthful, I came to SFIWJ because I felt God lead. There were definitely aspects of the work that I was drawn to, but more than anything I really felt like God led me to where I am now to work wherever He leads, knowing that I will do it because of Jesus. It is not necessarily what it appears to be or where it is, as long as I am a Christ-follower and I do things because He is in the lead, then that work is done in the name of Christ. Because of His presence in the work that I do, it is work that He uses to reach the people He loves.
I needed that reminder today. During my long commute up north (which I enjoy the public trans), I asked God why I was here. What was the His purpose in me being here? When I lose focus in the midst of struggle, I seem to ask God that a lot. And, with grace and gentleness, He nudges me and I have to stop and think. I am here because He wants me here. Whether it is to love, to fight, to stand, to fall , to share, to witness, to learn, to grow, to struggle, to hit rock bottom, to reach the peak, to be, to act. I am not entirely certain, but the fact that He led me here and it wasn’t my crazy idea alone is enough for today.