The Worldview Initiative took the last trip of the 2015-2016 school year to the historic city of Selma, Alabama this past week to partner with J.T. Morgan Academy & First Baptist Church of Selma. This was a highly anticipated trip as the team had never been to Selma, but very familiar with the unforgettable events surrounding this once segregated town of the Deep South.
We were in hopes of cultural renewal and thriving diversity prior to our arrival, but unfortunately the residue of racial tension seems to have never washed away. However, as with any expectation in life -there is a reality that must be confronted. Many members of our team are aware of the lurking prejudice throughout our nation, but to this day there is a deep rooted tension that can be felt in Selma. To add to the complexity, the leaders of FBC explained that for several decades, young men and women leave for university life and never look back to their cultural roots. We wondered, is this town in a process cyclical abandonment from which it may never recover?
With hopeful hearts, we began our conference Friday afternoon where we taught them about the formative nature of personal habits that shape the lives of many high school students (technology addiction, cultural consumption, etc.). We challenged the students of Selma to consider the context of their community and begin seeking reconciliation with their family, friends, and neighbors as an ambassador of Jesus.
Unfortunately, high school students are all too often numb to the empowering words of Scripture due to the cultural familiarity of the Bible, Jesus, etc. In an attempt to break them from this apathy our team has found it extremely valuable to use the power of story. Over the years we have slowly adopted the format of sharing both Biblically based content and truth, while also sharing intimate details of our lives and how the Lord has used them during our conferences.
Throughout the week the Worldview Initiative shared their testimonies and found common ground with their students in their small groups. Although a high school student is typically reluctant to honestly reflect on their own life, the team engaged the students of Selma in ways that kept their attention because of the ways they could relate to the story of another. This by far led to the most fruitful discussion with our students as they were not simply listening to "another lecture about the bible".
Undoubtedly, our team believes that our worldview must be shaped by the life of Jesus and the truths of Scripture. However, never underestimate the power that transparency can have on the life of your students. Be willing to have difficult and awkward conversations about the issues that surround your community or the personal demons you struggle with because you never know just how badly a young man or woman might need to know that they're not alone. For all I know, this may be the first step of a long, overdue process of restoration for a forgotten town of the South.