In the next few days, many parents will watch their children take their initial steps as a college student. For some parents, it might be their first child to attend college – and perhaps even the first of their family. This time always holds excitement but also anxiety from student and parent alike. I can imagine that the events of last week in Charlottesville and continued racial tensions in the U.S. have only added to some families’ fears that their child might not be accepted and safe while at college.
One of the priorities for me as a campus minister is to make sure every student feels safe and welcome as a part of Belmont Wesley Fellowship. Of course we are always aware that we fall short of the ideal, and we take seriously the work of looking at our own racism, prejudice, and even at times hatred of others. To fail to be honest about our own sin gets us nowhere. And so we confess the times when we fail to love others by our action or inaction. We also pray for the beauty of God’s diverse creation to impact us in our daily lives.
My wife and I have an eleven-month-old son. We love reading to him even if currently he’s less excited about it. One of my favorite books to read to him is called God’s Dream. It was written by one of my “faith heroes” Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu stood against the racial hatred and segregation in South Africa and has stood for love and equality for all people. One of my favorite lines in the book, and a line I hope to teach my son as I strive to learn it for myself daily, is, “Each of us carries a piece of God’s heart within us. And when we love one another, the pieces of God’s heart are made whole.”
Rather than seeking to have everyone at our campus ministry be “colorblind” and pretend that differences don’t exist, I hope that what we practice instead is the joyful embrace of each others’ differences. We are different because God made us this way. We are beautiful because God said so. I believe that as we seek to love everyone—no matter what—we are seeking to live God’s dream.