Reflecting on Lexington and the CDS Conference

So, in case you didn’t know, I’ve been in Lexington since Sunday night for a conference with the Community Development Society. I was surrounded by academia, and people who were professionals in this area.

This conference was international, and I was blessed to meet people from all over the world. Ghana, Scotland, England, Canada, Asia and many more. All within arms reach. I did a lot of listening to people. The cool thing was, everyone who was there was passionate about something. If you asked them about their projects, they were excited to tell you. I entertained a lot of ideas and opinions. Many of them were starkly different from my own. Sometimes I left inspired, but other times I left discouraged.

I sat at a table at Smithtown Seafood, listening to new acquaintances from Iowa, Alaska, Maine, England and Lexington. The older guy from England, Charlie, spoke about his adventures in community development and was very inquisitive about ours. He also had a fantastic accent and seemed to enjoy listening to American accents and dialects as well. What eventually came out of him, however, was jarring. He began talking about an insightful, intelligent, academic researcher with whom he’d done work. He went on to say that he couldn’t believe someone as smart as she was a creationist.

“I just assume everyone at these events is a progressive liberal,” he said.

I found this attitude to be common among my new counterparts. Without inquiring, many made it clear they had no empathy for the Christian belief system. Furthermore, they were very interested in one individual from Washington and wanted to hear more about her mosque. I enjoyed listening to her talk, but I found the contrast in acceptance to be even more intriguing.

My adventures continued to a small round-table, wherein I missed my last session of the day. I was caught deep in conversation with an individual from California, and 2 from Vermont. I like listening to other people’s ideas and views. I venture to say, even when you could not disagree with someone more, there is still some sort of common ground wherein you can reflect on your own ideas and develop them. Sometimes, it’s because you understand why  you believe the way you do.  The mayor of the Vermont town represented had various ideals that were in great difference to mine.  Mostly, when it came to the topic of police officers.

It was presented to me that officers are far too dependent on their weapons, both lethal and less. They should not be armed, nor should they tackle to arrest offenders who are resisting.  The correct approach, it was said, was to return to the suspect’s home when he’s back (around 8pm) with more officers and take him in. No need to pursue. I made the point that, while officers can sometimes identify suspects in small towns, large towns were a completely different story.

There were several points made that operated along the same mindset. While I found myself with a deeper understanding of the necessity of cultural/gender/class diversification among police officers, I left feeling unsettled about the views expressed by those in decision making roles for other departments in our country.  There’s a great disconnect between many who make decisions that can very well affect the life/death decisions made by these officers and those working the hours and living with the consequences of those decisions.

The trip was topped, however, with an amazing dinner with 6 wonderful wives. By the time we’d left the table, I felt connected to those I’d never met. Truthfully, however, it was very comfortable from the beginning. I’d worked with several of them on projects for PWoK, or communicated with them, for quite some time. It didn’t feel “new.”

It’s amazing how, Biblically, sharing a meal was such an intimate way to spend time with people. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed! Seeing ladies, who have never met, mesh, “break bread” together, laugh and bond over dinner was such a cool experience. I always treasure it when it happens.

Sometimes I need a reminder of why our work with PWoK is important. I have such a huge love for them and their unique challenges. I am truly the least of these, and hope I’m blessed with the opportunity to serve our families for a long time.

Oh, and don’t think I won’t preach scripture on the sidewalks and turn angry heads. I paraphrased, in a common way, 1 Peter 3:16 as someone walked by, while talking to my 6 sisters. Apparently, that rubbed this lady the wrong way.  I’m somehow okay with that.  I wish she’d come back and talked to me about it, but maybe she’ll go look it up.

I think it’s easy to get comfortable in my little hometown bubble.  It’s easy to forget that our majority isn’t the general consensus in other parts of the world. It’s easy to overlook the work that is left to be done, the need for those who don’t know what I know and the amazing opportunities that are open to us (if we’ll just take that step out of our boundaries). I was definitely the minority this week. I’m absolutely in prayer for departments that are disconnected from their decision makers, as well as those who don’t know Jesus.

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