Growing up in a middle class white family in North Augusta, SC doesn’t leave a lot of room to be in an environment exposed to different cultures. Although, I hadn’t been exposed to many different people groups growing up, I longed to be around them. I had the opportunity to take an internship with an FCA inner city soccer league May of 2013. This was the first time in the States that I would be able to not only see intercity life from the outside, but be involved with them first hand.
If I was looking at practice from a soccer perspective, it was more or less a nightmare. I had warm ups, drills, and games planned that failed miserably. The kids didn’t listen to a word I said, and there was a fight that broke out among them. Need less to say, it was completely different than what I expected. I learned from that point on to throw away all of my expectations and meet the kids right where they were. They were growing up completely different than me. They wore the same shoes every day, knew more about the “world” than I ever did at that age, and they experience more violence than I probably ever will. I saw how their world was different. I began to really understand and just listen to the kids, to be understanding and patient. From being present around them, I began to love them. I wanted more for them; I wanted them to personally know Jesus.
Jesus is beyond any culture. He meets anyone right where they are. He not only meets us but he sees us, hears us, and understands us. This is what people really want from relationships: to be heard, seen, and understood. This internship allowed me to do just that. I was and still am comfortable with approaching people who are completely different than me without expectation. Being around inner city culture changed my entire perspective forever, because I connected with people from the inside.
By: Emily Dodd
FCA Chaplain at Emory University