By Rachel Livingston
From my years working with youth and young people, I have been most moved by my work in creating Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools. I first fell in love with CDF Freedom Schools when I was a Servant leader intern (teacher), teaching 3rd -5th graders over the summer. These programs are designed to combat the “summer slide” of literacy for students in the summer when they are not reading. Freedom Schools does this by creating a curriculum that is more multi-cultural and teaches children the excitement of reading. The transformational thing about this program, however, is that it teaches young people that they can make a difference within their own communities through social advocacy. It was a ministry that transformed my faith and my life as I sought to bring the justice of Jesus Christ into the community and work together in the community growing and nurturing the body of Jesus Christ. As I was headed to San Antonio this was my plan, but I made sure to open myself up to the ways that the Holy Spirit might lead me to expand and enhance this idea, if it was the will of God. From my experience I am glad that I allowed God to move because it was an experience that opened up so much for me.
From the time I arrived in San Antonio until the time that I left, I saw the spirit move in many ways. To see the ways in which God is moving through social advocacy and innovation opened my eyes up to the many ways that faith can be done in unconventional ways.
Our first activity at the Alamo began to get the wheels turning in my head. At the Alamo we engaged in a city hack, an unconventional tour to say the least. We were able to dig up the stories within history that aren’t often heard, uncovering the voices that have been silenced. This made me think of creating space – creating space for those who have been silenced and are looking for places to meet God.
We then engaged with places like Impact Guild, a co-working space that encourages the building of community, social action, and social innovation. Pulling this all together, I began to feel like God was opening my mind to create a space that might house a Freedom School, which encourages community but to also expand the concept to create a space that builds community through possible co-working, community dinners, and houses opportunities for community building and action.
San Antonio was a space that challenged me to think outside the box when it comes to ministry. It also led me to think about thinking about a project realistically through considering the problem trying to solve, what resources are available, and what people are going to work with you.
San Antonio was the perfect example of allowing God to lead you to a place where creation can happen in communion with God through new ideas and challenges.