Equal Souls

“we are not called
to be successful, but faithful” (1)

The past 3 weeks have been the most eye opening 21 days of my life. I’ve been wrecked over and over again because I’m seeing more of my own privilege and biases. I’m realizing how quick I am to be judgmental to those who are different than me. God has been so gracious a billion times over, especially through the people he is placing people around me to talk about these things – things that are uncomfortable to bring into the light because I so badly wish they weren’t true.

I came into this internship thinking, “I am almost a college graduate with a background in many classes about human development and nonprofit management. I will definitely be needed and wanted here.”

And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t feel wanted, but I’m realizing that I’m not needed. Let me try to explain (with help from the words of two women on staff here).

God is bringing renewal
here in the South Bronx …

No longer are students, by 2nd grade, feeling like in order to “survive” they must join a gang and drop out of high school. Students are now seeing that they can finish high school, they can go to college, and they can have their dream job. But the cycle of poverty takes generations to break. It takes being faithful. If I’m only concerned about success and results, then I will lose sight of the small changes God is doing all around me in the lives of our students and neighbors. If success is my only motivator, I will abandon the “slow work of God”.

The Lord is pulling away at the deep roots of my heart that are constantly telling me that I need to change or fix the people around me. My biases tell me that the people here are more broken than I am. The truth is, no one is ever more or less broken than anyone else. We are all broken and in need of Jesus.

But, would my heart be changed to say, I want to show my neighbors who Jesus is and show them who He created them to be.

Like Greg Boyle said, “Equal souls. All day long“ (2).

“How do you work with the poor?”

“You don’t. You share your life with the poor” (3).

Throughout college I learned about theories to solving poverty, programs for youth development, nonprofit management, and sociology. But honestly, everything I’ve experienced here has started to really change the way I think about what it means to break the cycle of poverty. Yes, having great programs and services is important, but more than that, we need to be brave to trust God and step into the places that make us cringe.

I need to no longer think it’s “us” against “them”. We are all equal souls.

miss you Iowa, but NYC is growing on me each day

xoxo, Lin

p.s. the photo at the top is a cute puppy that was outside a coffee shop

Boyle, G. (2010). Tattoos on the heart: The power of boundless compassion. New York, NY: Free Press.

p. 167
p. 186

How is God encouraging you today?


About the author : Linnea Stephens

Linnea Stephens

I love writing about things God is teaching me through his Word, my own experiences, and listening to other people’s stories. I enjoy coffee shops, peanut butter, hammocks, flowers, running, and laughter. Swinging at the park or wandering around in nature are some of my favorite things, along with spending time with any of my four siblings. In the fall I will begin my senior year at Iowa State University to finish my undergraduate degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services! In the future I hope to be a counselor to provide a safe place for someone to come and allow their personal story to unravel so that they can begin a process of healing through the restoration of Jesus Christ.

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