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DEEP Reflections

The DEEP retreat last weekend was a high-water mark in my experience as a follower of Jesus. I truly experienced how the message of Jesus crosses religious, social and racial barriers.

Markus and I were part of the 1oth annual Diversity Educational Exchange Program between two Seventh Day Adventist universities, Oakwood, a "historically Black Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher learning" and Southern Adventist University, a predominately White SA university. The schools have sent students to this event over the years, but this was the first time the presidents, administrators, and faculty were the participants. I am grateful to President Baker, an avid marathoner, and President Bietz for the opportunity to serve with them.

We were all different. Race and country of origin could have been a barrier. We were Blacks and Whites and Latinos, and we came from different countries and socio-economic stratas.

Our expressions of faith were different. Adventists hold to many of the Old Testament laws, like worship on Saturday and following the major dietary laws. Meals were salad, soup, and pasta with limited amounts of caffeine. Their piety reminded me of my fundamentalist Southern Baptist roots, which doesn't make either grou not a part of the kingdom or bad people. But, Markus and I are definitely New Testament guys, and his invitation to join him in kid songs with motions livened a crowd that "don't dance, you know." We went to a sushi bar after the Friday night session to complete our meal of what we considered appetizers earlier.

But the one thing we gathered around without hesitation was the person and teachings of Jesus. I have always said that Jesus' definition of a great leader in His kingdom was the most overlooked passage when it comes to talking about leadership among God's people. The reason is that we get "great" and "first," but we stop when Jesus equates those to "servant" and "slave."

The highlight of the event was the discussion of what Jesus taught about servant leadership with those whose ancestors were slaves and those who had "lorded it over them" and "exercised authority over them." Only a group who had humbled themselves before Jesus as their Leader could have talked like we did. Only people forgiven and healed could lay down the pain and suffering and pride to live together to carry out God's mission call on their lives.

What Jesus taught about servant leadership is still true among those who follow Him. It's wacked to those who don't trust Him. I will never stop telling that message, and I can't wait to get in another group to see the unity in diversity only Jesus can bring. I will definitely have Markus with me when that happens. Without him there I can only tell half the story.

They video taped some of the sessions, and I hope to show it to Legacy Church when I get a hold of it.

Also, as a member of the Diversity Advocacy Committee of my local school district, I will have a new appreciation for the MLK Tribute this Thursday night at the Plano Centre.