ethnic identity

Dear Latino College Student,

Dear Latino College Student,

Dear Latino college student,

You might not know it, but there is an army of people praying for you. You may not have the support you need at home, but there are people who believe in you. Your dad might have not been around or he might have never told you that you are loved, valuable, cherished, and that if you work hard, you can be anything you want to be. Your mom may think you are wasting your time on campus —between philosophy classes and study breaks-—while you could be working more hours at McDonald’s to help your family. I see it all in the way you walk.

You probably carry the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. Your sibilings look up to you. You are the first one in your family to ever go to college. You are the only one of your brothers that hasn’t been to jail. You are the only 18 year old in your family who isn’t preagnant or that hasn’t done drugs. You are studying hard to keep your scholarships. You’ve lost hope that your immigration status will ever change. I see it all in your big brown eyes.

Yet you wake up every morning and believe.

I know you’ve been marginalized and that you have to prove yourself. I know you hurt. Yet you wake up every morning and believe. You believe that maybe, and just maybe, today will be better than yesterday. You walk around campus and greet your classmates with the friendliest and warmest smile the world has ever seen. Like you have it easy. Like things are going to be O.K. You have experienced God in the deepests of pain, and you have found Him to be faithful. I see it all in the way you talk.

Dear latino college student, I believe in you. I believe that you will lead this nation. I believe that you have what it takes and, with God’s help and perseverance, You will succeed. For His Glory. For the good of His people.

Dear tired latino student, I pray for you. I pray that God would draw you to Himself. I pray that God would build you up and make you a man or a woman who shares the good news with his/her family and the world around you.

Dear latino college student, even if you never read this, I promise to keep showing up on campus and to keep interrupting your conversations. I promise to keep sharing the Gospel with you. I promise to keep texting you and calling you and inviting you to a Bible study. I promise to keep offering to buy you coffee to hear your story. I promise to keep pursuing you. Because God loves you too much, for me to even dare to stop.

Diana is on staff with Destino in Denver, CO.  This was originally posted on her blog, Diana La Latina.

Photo credit: Leo Hidalgo.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Academically Achieving, Culturally Connected, Outreach, 0 comments
What I’ve learned from talking about ethnicity–Part 2

What I’ve learned from talking about ethnicity–Part 2

The following post was written by an Anglo staff member ministering with Destino.

In our ministry, there are some older staff who I look up to–Latinos and Latinas who have a deep relationship with Jesus.  Over these last few years I’ve heard them share what it means for them to follow Christ specifically from the perspective of being Latino.  They have expressed a wide range of feelings:  One was on staff because he wanted to see Christ use Latinos to change the world.  Another shared that in her life there had been a time when she wanted nothing to do with her culture and thought that “Spirit-filled” and “Hispanic” were opposites.  Another had considered his ethnicity irrelevant but then came to realize that he had been intentionally created as Latino by the Lord.

In my last post, I started explaining what I’ve been learning through various conversations, interactions, and discussions about race, culture, and ethnicity.  The first thing I learned was that I myself had an ethnicity and a culture, and that I should explore exactly what that means.

One of our values in ministry is that people experience wholeness through Christ in their ethnic identity.  God has made each of us, and if we are in Christ, the Bible says we’re a new creation–He’s re-making us as well!  One aspect of the Christian life is that we are discovering more and more of who God is, as well as who we are.  There are so many dimensions of who God is, that if we spent all of eternity learning and experiencing who exactly He is, we would never finish.  We would never read the last page; we would never see the last facet of the gemstone of His character.

I believe that although we are finite creatures, there is enough to our identity as human beings to fill a lifetime with discovery of who we are.  There are the relational roles you play–father, mother, child, etc.  There are also vocational roles–the things you do for a living or do for fun.  Everyone also has a gender identity, a citizenship, and a cultural identity.  For each of these roles, a Christian at some point ought to consider, “What does Christ’s death and resurrection mean for me as a ______ ?”  Here are some identity questions we Christians tend to ask today in America:

What does it mean for me to be a man or a woman in Christ?

How does the gospel change how I act as a spouse?

How does God want me to raise my kids?

How does God want me to act toward my coworkers?

Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of listening in as my coworkers ask, “What does it mean to be a Latino/a in Christ?”  Naturally I started asking, “What does it mean to be a white person in Christ?”

If I believe that God knit me together in the womb and ordained my going out and lying down (Psalm 139), then it follows that my place of birth, ethnicity, nationality, and culture are not happenstance.

And if God ordained it, shouldn’t I consider what the gospel entails for this area of my life?

Maybe God’s plan for me in my ethnicity has to do with redemption or healing of past hurt.  Perhaps it means recognizing where I have privilege and power that could either be used to oppress or to lift up.

If I fail to ask the question, “What does God want for me in my ethnicity,” I can still experience Christ.  Just like I can still experience Christ if I never think about what the Gospel means for me as a man, as a husband, or a father.

But I can experience deeper life in Christ the more of my identity I probe.

For example, as I learned more of what Christ wants for me as a man, I treasured that aspect of who He made me to be, and desired to be more like Him in that arena.  The same goes for every other facet of who I am.

I am convinced that considering the totality of who we are, and what God wants for each facet of our identity brings glory to God and makes us whole.  We are being transformed as we are renewed by Christ, and we transformed people are used by God to transform the world around us and announce the sure coming of the Kingdom of God.

How about you?  What does God want for you in your ethnicity or your culture?

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.  Originally posted on his blog.

Photo Credit:  John Hritz.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, 0 comments
What I’ve learned from talking about Ethnicity—Part 1

What I’ve learned from talking about Ethnicity—Part 1

The following post was written by an Anglo staff member ministering with Destino.

One of the things I love about doing ministry with Destino is that we value wholeness in one’s ethnic identity.  Since our ministry’s mission is done in the context of a particular culture, we talk about culture a lot.  Let me tell you–this has been interesting for a white guy to be a part of.  I was thinking about some of the things I’ve been learning, and there were a few surprises.

I remember a time when I was really uncomfortable talking about race and ethnicity.  There’s a few reasons for this.  One of the common phrases we hear about race is “separate is inherently unequal,” from the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.  I think I had applied that to my thoughts about race and ethnicity:  different means separate, and so if we are to be equal, then we must be the same.  Another reason I’ve been afraid to talk about race and ethnicity is that I was afraid of saying something stupid or offensive.  But over the years I’ve been able to make more friends with people who are of a different ethnicity than me, and the more we’ve gotten to know each other, the more we’ve all been able to talk and ask questions about our different cultures.  It’s run the gamut from, “what’s that food called?” to “why do I feel like I’m interrupting people when I’m here?” or “why was I so offended by what so-and-so said?”  These honest conversations have blessed me greatly, and have taught me about myself, about the world, and about God.

Anyway, here’s the first lesson I’m kind of currently distilling:

I am an “ethnic”.  In my hometown there was an aisle at Walgreens for “Ethnic Hair Care Products.”  In my town that meant products that African Americans use, but that white people don’t, by and large.  At Shop ‘n Save there was also an “Ethnic Food” aisle, where one could find Bosnian canned goods, tortillas, and salsa that wasn’t Old El Paso brand.  There’s a subtle but powerful idea that the way we speak affects the way we think.  In this case, our language suggests that I am not ethnic.  On forms and documents I do have a race, but “ethnic” is reserved for people who aren’t like me.  So in other words “ethnic” means “different than me.”  Have you ever said, “I wish my culture was more interesting” or “American culture is just so boring compared to…”?  For me, I developed a love of travel and learning about different cultures, partly because I thought we were sort of devoid of culture.

My basic understanding of the world was that other cultures and customs exist beyond our borders, but they’re basically just different flavors of the way I do things.  I am the basic model, and they are the variety.

Here’s another one of my favorite phrases:  “plain ol’ vanilla.”  Vanilla’s really just the plain ice cream, am I right?  Well, if you’ve ever had good vanilla ice cream, then you know that’s wrong.  It’s actually a legitimate flavor, worth enjoying on its own for what it is.  Pistachio is not “green vanilla,” and orange sherbet is not just orange vanilla with a twist. Yet, we treat culture and ethnicity as if that were the case; as if, for example, Hispanic culture(s) were just “plain ol’ vanilla” plus some tropical fruits.

The first lesson I’ve learned about culture and ethnicity is that I have one!  To be white American actually consists of something!  If it’s the vanilla ice cream (I know…playing into the stereotype), then it’s a real flavor!  If I consider our nation’s cultural variety to be just variations on me, I disrespect my own culture’s value, and diminish all the others as well by trying to reduce them!

There are a lot of well-intentioned “we’re all basically the same” sentiments out there, but I fear that “we’re all the same” usually means “I’m normal and you’re all like me but a little different.”  Let’s face it, “you’re abnormal, but it’s ok” is really disrespectful at best, and has some destructive implications at worst.

Practically, I find it’s much more productive to talk about ethnic majority or ethnic minorities.  That keeps us honest and helps us give respect to the way we are.  I’m no more or less “normal” than my African American, Latino, Korean, or East African friends friends.  When comparing two cultures, “Which one’s normal and which is ethnic?” is the wrong question.

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.  Originally posted on his blog.

Photo credit:  Brian J. Matis.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, 0 comments
Becoming a Believer Didn’t Take Away My Ethnicity

Becoming a Believer Didn’t Take Away My Ethnicity

I remember several years ago taking a personality test that asked a series of questions connected to worldview in relation to God and humanity. Essentially, each question related to how I viewed others and whether or not I believed the best about their motives and intentions when interacting with them. I can remember each time I came across another question on this theme, I had this internal battle inside of me. While I knew the “right” answer was to assume the best and to believe in people’s good intentions, I knew that I didn’t think or feel that way all the time. I had experience after experience where, given the right stressful circumstances, all human beings, including believers, often responded out of their own broken humanity. People are fallen, I thought, so how could we always assume the best about their motivations?

What I didn’t realize then was that this way of viewing others was influenced by my cultural worldview that I had grown up with as a Latina, and this worldview differed from the white Christian community I was involved with then. Dr. Juan Martinez, professor at Fuller Seminary, jokes that “Latinos are 1 point Calvinists” because the depravity of man informs our view of all our interactions with others and even our view of the whole of human history. Justo Gonzalez calls this a “non-innocent view of history” where Latinos recognize that all history, including that of Christianty, is a story about broken people.

My experience with this test several years ago highlighted to me how tied my understanding of the Christian life was to majority culture. In that season of my life, I had no understanding of how my own Latino culture influenced me at very deep levels. While the white evangelical church I came to faith in was right to emphasize that my new identity in Christ was of ultimate importance, it failed to acknowledge that their own understanding of the Christian life was influenced by majority culture lenses and that this was the Christianity they taught me.

I picked up early on in my time as a believer that my life before Christ was to be forgotten and dismissed which implicitely included my ethnic identity too. I remember reading verses like Philippians 3:13 where Paul said “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” and believing that this meant that I needed to leave the past in the past and get on with my new life in Christ which was infinitely better. Because my life in this new community didn’t include any Hispanics, I associated my ethnicity with the part of my life I was meant to leave behind too. Couple that way of thinking with the fact that my life before coming to faith was painful, and I figured ignoring that past and that part of my identity was the right thing to do.

The problem with only focusing on my new identity in Christ devoid of culture was that it wasn’t really true. Neglecting to acknowledge my own Latino identity as a part of how God made me, didn’t leave me free from cultural influences. It just left me confused. When there were contradictions in cultural values that showed up in my discipleship within this majority culture Christian community, I always assumed the majority was right and I was wrong. It couldn’t possibly be that my own cultural lenses influenced me in my walk with God to see the world differently, and that maybe I had something to offer majority culture in that perspective. There wasn’t room for that kind of thinking so it was squelched in me instead. It left me feeling like I was always immature and in need of growth when my way of seeing God and the world differed from others around me.

Starting to work for Destino, though, sent me on a journey of exploring my own ethnic identity and the valuable ways the culture had shaped me. I began to feel so affirmed in a community that for the first time shared my story and my assumptions. Their view of God was similar to me because of our shared common experiences. It was a beautiful thing.

But within this searching, I couldn’t just embrace the beautiful ways my culture had influenced me, I also had to face the broken parts of my culture and past that had left wounds in my life as well. Orlando Crespo in talking about the bi-cultural journey said, “I can’t let go of the fact that I have both of these worlds in me and both have left their beautiful and painful mark on me.” That was what I felt like God was doing in me as he was pushing me to deal with all of my story. There were beautiful parts to my Latino identity that I was willing to embrace, but I was needing to embrace the painful too. At that point, I began to look honestly at the alcoholism and physical abuse in my past and how those realities were early shapers of my identity. Accepting both the beautiful parts and the broken parts of my ethnic identity was necessary for true depth of understanding of God and myself. There could be no healing without a holding of both.

being bicultural means that two different cultural worlds
have left their beautiful and painful mark.

Recently, I listened to NPR’s Alt.Latino describing how Salsa music is a good reflection of how life contains this exact tension and paradox of the beautiful and the painful. Most of the time salsa music is viewed as happy music that is joyful and danceable, but the lyrics of the music often carry dark themes that deal with sorrow and suffering. These two seemingly inconsistent parts together are what make Salsa music so powerful. I think thats true of my own life too. Like Crespo said, being bicultural means that two different cultural worlds have left their beautiful and painful mark. That’s what makes me who I am and how I understand God to be who he is in my life.

I think another significant piece to this journey for me was when I read the book Honor and Shame by Roland Muller. Again, in wanting to find healing from my own past, I learned that when you come from a shame-based culture like Latino culture, freedom from shame is at the heart of the gospel message. But it wasn’t only the shame I felt about the sins I had committed that I needed freedom from, but also the shame I felt as a result of the sins done to me. As I read through the book, this understanding of the gospel felt almost like a second conversion experience for me. I felt that while I had accepted that Christ took away my guilt through his death when I trusted in him, I had never fully accepted the truth that he had also taken away my shame, including the shame I felt related to my ethnicity. This was revolutionary in my life.

All of these experiences are a part of what God has used and is using to grow me into wholeness in my ethnic identity. So, while there was a time in my life where I would have wanted to deny being Latina, I can now say with confidence that my ethnicity is a part of who God has made me to be. My culture isn’t a liability, but a blessing that wasn’t meant to be erased at my conversion. I am thankful for the whole of the story He has written and is writing over my life.

Kristy Garza Robinson served with Destino and currently on staff with LaFe, a ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  Find her on Twitter @yosoykristy and at www.yosoykristy.com.  Originally posted April 20, 2012.

photo courtesy: craigcloutier

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Destino Winter Conference—Who God Made Me to Be.

Destino Winter Conference—Who God Made Me to Be.

 

Fabiola grew up going to church, loving the traditions. Her abuela would say, “Every little prayer is a step closer to heaven,” so Fab’s faith centered on praying and being a “good girl.” When she was nine, Fab’s family came to the U.S. She set out to prove she was American. “I didn’t want anything to do with being Mexican or singled out as Latina, so I assimilated quickly.” She learned English, made American friends almost exclusively, forgot about church and took up American hobbies like dance team.

In college, Fab enjoyed a good party. Then she’d go to a Christian group to still “do the right thing.”

God used a conference that Fab attended to speak truth that opened her heart:  Jesus died to forgive her because of His great love for her. “I thought of God as a bossy god who just wanted us to pray and not have any fun. But I was believing things that weren’t true.”

Then God used another conference, Destino’s Winter Conference, in Fab’s life. There, she learned He made her the way she is. He made her “brown” for a reason. “He very purposefully made me who I am, how I am. I sat there surrounded by people like me, and it was OK. Being Latina was actually celebrated!”

“I came to know the Lord at a conference; He spoke to me about my ethnic identity at Destino Winter Conference. You can go to get away, hang with friends, as something to do…lots of reasons, yet what a great place to grow!”  

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, Discipleship, 0 comments
Where are you spiritually right now?

Where are you spiritually right now?

As this school year started we’ve met lots of students!

We asked, “What are you hoping for this semester?” and you answered things like, “success” and “good friends.”

Destino likes to ask, “Where are you spiritually right now?” And on one campus students could circle motions like frustrated, excited, and/or empty.

Maybe you relate to Tyrell, a second-year student who identified himself as disappointed, confused and growing. He agreed to meet up for lunch with Matt.

After learning more about each other, Matt asked Tyrell about the words that he used to describe his spiritual life. Tyrell said he was “disappointed” because he doesn’t feel like he lives the way God wants him to live. “Confused” because he isn’t sure how God wants him to live, but doesn’t really understand what the Bible says sometimes. And “growing” because he wants to know God and tries to learn about him in spite of his negative feelings. Don’t you feel some of those things sometimes?!

Matt asked Tyrell what he thought would help his spiritual life, and Tyrell said, “I think I want to study the Bible and learn how God wants me to live.” Just this week, Tyrell and several other students began to do that!

Are you in a small group to study the Bible and/or discuss growing closer to God? Would you like to be?  Find out what’s happening on your campus!

Photo Credit: djromanj.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Students just like you!

Students just like you!

“I see you as one of my teachers, teaching me something I never knew before.”

“I feel a lot better knowing there’s a place for me here to open up about my faith.”

“I’m not religious like my mom, but I still believe in God and would really want to learn more about Him with others.”

“I want Jesus to be on the throne of my life; He’s not fully there now, but I’d like Him to be.”

“I want to join your group so my grandmother will feel more at peace that I found a good group to keep learning about God. Plus I like you guys.”

“I don’t have a Bible or have ever read it, but I’m open to learn about it.”

Come, be part of Destino’s familia!

Photo Credit:  Allen Stanley.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Outreach, 0 comments
What is Familia?

What is Familia?

This week we want to give a shout out to Destino at the University of Arizona/Pima!  This spring, they’ve been working really hard to meet people and build a movement in their city.  Recently, they did an awesome outreach on campus that engaged students by asking questions.

They asked students to explain what family is, what they like about their culture, what their culture needs, and if they think one can know God personally.  Students were invited to write their ideas on a giant graffiti board and then were invited to a meeting where U. of A. head baseball coach Andy Lopez gave his testimony of how he grew up in church, but later met God for real and how his personal relationship with Jesus has really changed his life.

Building a spiritual movement is often slow and very hard work, but we’re so excited to see the movement at UA/Pima gaining traction. The Lord is doing awesome things there!  What questions could you use to start spiritual conversations on your campus?

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, Outreach, 0 comments
Why did God give you a culture?

Why did God give you a culture?

“Let’s do a Bible study that talks about how being a Christian affects our culture!” suggested one of our leaders at the beginning of the semester. Great idea!  But where do you find that kind of material?  Walk into any Christian bookstore and you’ll find a women’s section, a men’s section, and Bibles “marketed” towards soldiers, firefighters, and even cowboys, but where can you find a book asking “What does Christ have to do with my culture or ethnicity?”  The fact is, sometimes it’s awkward to talk about culture, race, and ethnicity.  But culture is that basic aspect of who each of us is–so hard to define, and often unseen by us, but influencing how we experience everything around us.  In our ministry, we ask the question, “Why did God give you your culture?”  But the first step is discovering what exactly our culture is and what beliefs we possess about it.

In Destino we ask the question,
“Why did God give you your culture?”

 

Carolina walked into one of our meetings a little nervous.  She had grown up in a mostly Latino church, but hadn’t attended there for years.  She was hesitant to come to Destino in the first place because she hadn’t been around a large group of Latinos in a long time.  She later confessed, “I didn’t really think it was possible for a group of Latinos that large to worship God together like that.”  As she has gotten more involved with Destino, she says that she’s felt more like herself.  She couldn’t have said what was missing before, but says her relationship with God has gotten deeper as she’s explored why God made her Latina.  She has uncovered beliefs and frustrations about her own family and culture, and also traits her culture possesses that glorify God.  In the words of another friend of ours,

“In our culture you find close family ties, fierce loyalty, and a deep ability to grieve what’s broken and celebrate redemption at the same time.”

Carolina has been finding out ways God wants to use her, including her Hispanic heritage, to be a blessing to others and lead them toward Christ!  It has been a blessing for us to see Carolina and other students grow in their understanding of who they are.  This is what drives Destino staff to develop resources for Bible study, discipleship, and leadership development that engage with questions like these.  It has also caused me to consider questions of ethnic identity in Christ for myself–as an Anglo person, what does our own culture consist of?  As a member of white culture in the U.S., and a majority in my city, how does God want to use that aspect of who I am?

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.  Originally posted on his blog.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, 0 comments
Don’t Waste Your Ethnic Identity

Don’t Waste Your Ethnic Identity

 

My ethnic identity journey has been one of joy, tears, and trust. Joy in knowing that in the Lord’s good and perfect sovereignty He chose for me to be a person of Mexican descent. Tears as I enter into the painful parts of embracing my culture– from feeling “less Mexican” because I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, to being left speechless after someone said something derogatory about Latinos. Trusting that the Lord is using this journey for my good and His glory. Before I enter more into my ethnic identity journey, let me first share a little more of who I am.

I am a third generation Mexican American who grew up in South Texas, doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, and didn’t really realize I was Hispanic until I moved out of South Texas. That last statement may be a little hard to believe, but honestly — when the majority of people around you look like you, it’s a lot harder to recognize that you have a culture. The Lord has graciously used my time working with Destino to help me recognize and embrace my ethnic identity.

Though I would mark the summer of 2010 as the beginning of my ethnic identity journey I can see ways the Lord was moving in my heart to move forward in the journey and to truly embrace all of who He created me to be. In February of 2009, a staff member of our organization called me up to see if I would be interested in joining a new team in Dallas — one that would reach ethnic minority students at different schools in the city. I felt the Lord leading me in that direction, so I took a step of faith and obedience and saw the Lord provide the financial support needed to go.

The thought never crossed my mind that ministry would look different than what I experienced as a student in CRU. I can confidently say that I am not the same person I was when I first started working in Destino. My experience working with Destino and my ethnic identity journey are so intertwined, which is probably good because it reminds me that my ethnic identity journey isn’t just an isolated event, but really does impact so many areas of my life.

As I have walked on this ethnic identity journey I have learned a couple things along the way:
1) My ethnic identity journey is a process.

In the summer of 2010 I spent some time in the Arab world with a group of Latinos. It was the first time I had spend such an extended period of time with that many Latinos, other than my family. I felt right at home. I understood the indirect communication that I heard and could relate to experiences students had with feeling lonely when they were the only Hispanic in their classes, etc.

It also felt so natural to talk with the Arabs I met. They insisted on feeding us and made sure you had enough to eat. They also gave hugs and would kiss your cheek when they first saw you and when you were about to leave. There was also no such thing about a “group hello or good-bye– you said bye to everyone individually. All of these things felt like I was back at my grandmas house with my family or back in South Texas.

|After this trip, it was the first time that I loved being a Latina.

I didn’t hate being Latina before, but up until this trip didn’t feel like my ethnicity was valued or significant. When you don’t see many Latinos in position of power in society, it’s easier to believe lies that your culture and ethnicity isn’t really that significant.

In the way that I’m wired I really value closure. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and according to strengths finders, 2 of my top strengths are “developer” and “restorative”- both of which are essentially seeing the potential in situations and working to bring them to completion. So, with my new found love for my ethnicity, I wanted to embrace being Latina. I started with the most logical thing to do — watch Selena and go buy some Spanish music to put on my iPod. ;) I also needed to learn how to salsa dance and speak spanish fluently ASAP. The problem with wanting to see all these things happen was that for 23 years of my life I didn’t listen to Spanish music, or practice my Spanish, and had only danced Salsa a couple times.

Another problem with wanting to do these things, is that I was looking to these things to make me Latina. If only I spoke Spanish all the time, THEN I would be Latina and embrace my ethnic identity, or if I was only the best salsa dancer, THEN I would be Latina and embrace my ethnic identity. But, if I looked in the mirror I could see that I already was Latina! Also, when I did try speaking Spanish more or Salsa dancing and the reality that I was still a beginner in both of these areas was staring at me straight in the face, it was hard for me to know who I was, because I had looked to these things to find my identity. I’ve learned that there isn’t going to be a point where I have all of my ethnic identity journey figured out. It’s not as simple as just learning Spanish, or just doing this or that. It’s a lifelong process of running to Jesus as he walks with me through this journey. All of who I am is found in Him and in Him I have been made complete.

2) It’s OKAY to walk through the pain.

It’s easier to not walk through the painful and hard parts in your life. Like I mentioned before you don’t see a lot of Latinos in position in power, so it’s easy for me to believe the lie that I couldn’t dream big, because my dreams probably wouldn’t come true. I also walked through pain when others around me would point out the obvious — “you don’t speak Spanish?!” it made me feel shameful for not knowing the language of mi gente (my people). Another painful thing to walk through was thinking that it was wrong to embrace my ethnic identity. There has been growth in each of these areas and I can acknowledge the lies that I am believe and run to Jesus and rest in knowing that all of who I am is found in Him and in Him I have been made complete.

3) I’m not alone in this journey.

The Lord has met me where I’m at, has provided friends to walk through this journey, and has used me to walk people of different ethnicities through their ethnic identity journey. I’m sure that especially with the growing population of Latinos in America, there are many others who are thinking/will be thinking about their ethnic identity. I’m thankful that in the midst of the unknown, the pain, and the joy all of who I am is found in Him and in Him I have been made complete.

John Piper has a book called Don’t Waste Your Life, which challenges us to make much of Him in every part of our life.  I don’t want to waste my life — or my ethnicity!

Melissa Silva is a graduate of the University of Texas, and has served on staff with Destino in Texas, L.A., and in the Mediterranean.

photo courtesy: digitizedchaos

Posted by Devin Tressler in Culturally Connected, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments