Today, I'm taking off my rose colored glasses. After spending 15 months living abroad in Cape Town, South Africa and hearing from locals about how much they love America and their desire to live the "American dream" I find myself saddened by the reality that although this is the land of the free and the home of the brave it is also a place where racism is still alive and we must pray to actively seek what is our role in racial reconciliation daily.
In South Africa, I heard personal stories of their tragic experiences during the Apartheid government. It's still surreal to think that less than 30 years ago a white and black person could not walk down the road together without the black person being arrested. The same people you work with in a corporate office were once shot at with rubber bullets, sprayed with tear gas or arrested merely because of their skin color.
I will always remember visiting Robben Island, the location of a prison that was filled with people labeled terrorists instead of activists willing to stand up for the voiceless in the nation. I heard about the perseverance and sacrifice required of Nelson Mandela to bring hope and change to a resilient nation. Life has surely changed in South Africa since the 90s and yet there is plenty more work to be done.
I heard stories of hope, love and peace and was inspired as I walked into the diverse church I served at on Sunday's. A photo of a black and white South African hands praying together still hangs in the church lobby as a reminder to love God, love people, make disciples and transform society.
Also, I grieved as I witnessed first-hand the daily battle for the "rainbow nation" to honor and respect each other as well as residents from all over the world. Xenophobia attacks occurred the week of my arrival, riots over school fees shut down college campuses, corrupt politicians proven guilty still remain in power, and more.
And yet, I found myself giving my heart to a broken nation. Praying for its people. Praying for change. Praying for unity. Praying for peace. Praying for justice. Praying God would use me to make a difference in just one person's life.
Several weeks ago as I was grieving leaving South Africa, I was thrown into the tragic reality that America, the nation that the world loves ... is broken. The people of the United States or America are hurting. Injustice is being done. Change is needed. People are crying out to God for heavenly solutions while the government continues to delay providing practical answers.
Surprisingly, my Facebook timeline revealed more accurately what was going on in the hearts of the people in my home country than the nightly news. I heard friends share their broken hearts, their first-world viewpoints and short-term solutions.
For weeks now, I have tried to process where to enter the conversation. What could I say or do as a white women that would add value?
Today, I will be praying, praying that I take off my rose colored glasses, look in the mirror and ask myself honestly "what can I do to make a difference and be a change agent in my community, church and world?"
One thing I learned for sure on the mission field is in order to be an agent of change you first must know the ultimate change agent, Jesus Christ.
In the days ahead I will continue to see God and pray He reveals my first step towards being a change agent in this world.
I invite you to seek how you can be a change agent too. That being said, a perfect place to start is to come into a relationship with Christ. In order to be an ambassador of reconciliation you must first be reconciled to God.