“The three time Academy Award winning movie Crash vividly portrays the collisions or characters from various ethnic and economic backgrounds living in Los Angeles. The resulting racially charged situations, while intense and powerful, solidify many stereotypes that exists in our world today. It would be easy to dismiss this as simply good cinematography. In real life, however, these collisions happen every day. When we ‘crash’ into other people, does it always have to lead to pain? Or can these collisions break stereotypes and build something new?”

-Leroy Barber, New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community

The photographs in this blog were taken this morning.  As part of Mission Possible, the Vacation Bible School program for older children, the children got to choose various ways they wanted to be good neighbors. It is such a neat experience and concept really. For a week the 20 or so children participating learn of the variety of ways Jesus moves into the neighborhood and offers love, which opens them to the variety of ways they can love God and neighbor in their city.

Six of the children volunteered to join the Simple One Hour Summer Tutoring team for this morning, receiving time with a few children who are members of our church seeking refuge in Nashville from Burma.

It was the first time I believe the six girls had been to the homes of some of the members, and for some of them the first time meeting many of the children they received 1 1/2 hours with this hot Nashville morning.

Collision… crash.

The first moments were filled with an array of emotions by everyone involved, from unconfined joy to absolute “stranger danger” hesitation. All of it understandable, very real and a part of the journey.

I stood along the sidelines and watched as walls were patiently broken down and new connections were being born, especially between the girls who had volunteered to play with and love the toddlers of the community while their older siblings were in tutoring.

I watched as lives “crashed” into each other for the first time.

It was crazy.

It was pregnant with all kinds of possibility and uncertainty.

It was Sacred.

It was so incredibly fun!

On the drive back to the church, I asked the girls where they had encountered God in their time with our neighbors.

A couple of them shared and one wrote down this response, “When I was playing with the two little boys, I saw God. Because the two little boys were so open to playing with me even when they didn’t know me. God is kind of like them, because He is always open to letting us come to Him. Like the boys were to me.

Then she asked me who she would need to contact at the church to return a Tuesday or Thursday in the future.

“Every day in our world, an infinite variety of collisions occur. Each person has a choice: focus on the pain and nurse our wounds or break down a wall and build something new.”

-Leroy Barber, New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community