At the wake of the 12th anniversary of 9/11, I find myself thinking about conflicts and peace. Our world is troubled by many conflicts. These clashes occur internationally, in our community, and even within us. In the midst of all these struggles, I have been wondering where God is.
What have we learned from 9/11? Like many people, I have been troubled about what is happening in Syria, where many are dying. This issue got me to think about the work that I have been doing in Bristow. For these first few weeks, my work has been mostly at BEACON, the adult literacy program. At BEACON, I had the privilege to meet people from all over the world. Some are coming from Guatemala, others from S. Korea, still others from Egypt, many from El Salvador and many other countries. I should be happy and satisfied that the people that I am meeting are learning English to improve their lives. Indeed, I am happy with the work that I am doing. But upon further reflection, I asked myself the reason why so many people, like me, left everything behind to come to America.
Since it was the first week of classes, and during this first month I got to observe all the morning classes as part of my training, I had the chance to hear many stories. What kept coming to mind is a woman who could not go to school past fourth grade. Many in the classroom relate to her story. In the same class, another woman who hold a Masters degree in her native country left all that she knew and is now happy to settle in a housekeeping job. As I kept thinking, I am reminded of the sob of this elderly couple, both engineers, who believe that they are now worth nothing more than putting stocks on the shelves of Home Depot. Those I met left their country for different reasons. For many, violence, poverty, and a lack of opportunity push them to leave all that they know behind to adopt a new culture, a new home. In their new country, they dream of reaching their full potential. And I kept asking where God is in the midst of all these trials? Why doesn’t God bring justice?
That was before I read Tutu’s words. During a conference at the University of Virginia, Tutu was asked a question similar to mine and he responded: “God has a such deep reverence for our freedoms all over the place, God will not intervene like, I mean, sending a lightning bolt to dispatch all despots! God waits for God’s partners— we! And God has a dream: God has a dream of a world that is different, a world in which you and I care for one another, because we belong in one family… God says, … will you help me realize my dream… I have nobody except you”
This was an amazing answer to my question. It reminded me that God is present and wants to work through all of us… I have been enjoying my work at BEACON. I am working alongside wonderful people who are also passionate about making a difference. I hope that throughout this year, we will be able to make a difference in the life of the people we meet and that we may be open for them to make a difference in our lives as well.