Monday, May 23, 2005

Mestizaje and Young Life

While at Azusa, I was asked to pinch hit for a Young Life staff gathering because their scheduled speaker on Friday night could not make it. Because of my ties historically with YL, I was eager to do it. Because it was last minute, and because I was teaching a class all day before I spoke, I had no time to prepare anything new or specific for this gathering. Instead I would have to share on the theme of mestizaje (which I have been thinking alot about), and how it related to YL's desire to experience unity in the midst of their diversity.

While I thought my talk was fine, it seemed to touch a nerve with many of the staff. I left right after my talk, but was later informed that the meeting continued for over an hour, with many of the staff reacting to some of the ideas that were shared. In essence, I shared that if we want a diverse future, mestizaje is the process that will most authentically get us there. Which means that everyone has to change. Assimilation allows for the dominate culture to remain the same while everyone else adjusts, while true mestizaje, while equally painful and agonizing, results in the emergence of an entirely distinct reality--where the dominant culture and minority cultures mix and give birth to something totally new.

Like most evangelical organizations begun in the 1950's, YL has historically struggled with figuring out how to fully integrate people of color into their reality. A quick review of the key leadership and boards of almost all of these groups would reveal a mostly white and male dominated group. While this was more understandable in the 50's it is now becoming an extreme liability in 2005- because our world and our nation is so different and so diverse; so mestizo.

I love YL, and I owe so much to this movement that taught me how to love Jesus and how to share my faith with others as a young man. My prayer is that it will continue to embrace the struggle of becoming an authentic mestizo community, becoming better prepared to minister in the new multicultural reality that is the 21st century.

I suppose it is good that there was a little bit of a stir and reaction, otherwise I may never be asked to pinch hit again.


At 12:07 AM, Anonymous rudy said...

"everyone has to change"

anyone doing a diversity or multiethnic initiative needs to tattoo this phrase on their forehead

At 12:18 AM, Blogger Ramiro said...

As a Young Life staff person who has been involved with the ministry for 19 years, I just want to say thanks to Noel for sharing what he did. I too am learning as much as I can about Mestizaje via Virgilio Elizondo's works. Not just as a Mexican American, but as a Christian!

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Abner Ramos said...

Noel, if God put it on your heart to share about mestizaje, then don't sweat the reaction. Intervarsity has the same issues, and unless we step up to the plate and speak out, nothing is ever going to change. Good job hermano.


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