Written by Jarrett Meek, Pastor & Executive Director
When we moved to Kansas City, KS to start Mission Adelante in 2005, we didn't know what we didn't know. Our frame of reference was Overland Park, Heartland Community Church, The University of Kansas, and a little bit of Latin America. While we had some understanding of what it was like to live outside our home country, we had a lot to learn about life for immigrants in the United States. We only had a very superficial grasp of the challenges of our broken immigration system. And we were still very unaware of cultural and racial dynamics that are so much a part of ministry in an urban, multicultural context.
When we began, we were new to the concept of Christian community development, but our friends at the Hope Center in KCMO had gone before us. John M. Perkins, a civil rights activist since the 1950's and a co-founder of the Christian Community Development Association, had written books emphasizing the importance of "relocation" in any endeavor to work with vulnerable or marginalized people. The Hope Center's example and John Perkins' writing, along with our desire to share life with people from all places, compelled us to move to this beautiful, diverse community.
The Power of Proximity by author Michelle Warren is another great book that opened my eyes to what it means to be involved in social justice as a Christian. Warren begins her book, by saying, "If you wake up in the morning and the system works for you, you think it's a good and just system. You frame the way you see the world through this lens." Moving to live in an immigrant neighborhood in Wyandotte County has given me a new lens. As Michelle puts it, "I have had the privilege to wake up for many years looking through lenses framed by two different communities". This dual lens life has created tensions in me that have led to transformation in many areas. Among other things, living in proximity to vulnerable people has heightened my awareness of social injustices around me and transformed my understanding of my own role in addressing them.
Warren states, "Proximity to injustice transforms your view of the bigger world and the people moving about in it. Most importantly, it transforms you in all the ways that are necessary to help you take part in God's process of redeeming and rebuilding what is broken." In her introduction, she emphasizes that this book is not just about telling inspirational stories about transformed lives rather, "[it] is about personal transformation." In her own words, her book, "is an attempt to spell out why a life lived in a community is so important in moving toward justice."
We have invited author, Michelle Warren, to come to Kansas City to lead a workshop on her book! The date for this workshop will be Saturday, May 4th from 9 to 11 am. We would love for you to join us! Please register for the free event below.