The concept of Unbuntu, loosely translated as togetherness, is where we need to focus our efforts. The intertwining of community based organizations, schools, and churches exemplifies Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When we work together we are stronger and more effective.
About 9 years ago I started with my organization and found myself and family moving to the inner city of Omaha, Nebraska. We did not talk to anybody in that community to see if they wanted us there. It was almost implied by us that we knew what was best for that community, without even asking the school or the local church if they wanted us or needed us there. Resentment built between the community and us because of this. My heart hurts that we went about it this way.
4 years ago I was sitting at a table full of kids who only looked like me, with one person from a different race and background. She is a young lady from Albania. While we were talking at the table, she asked me “Hey, why do you never talk to me? Why do you and your staff come here every day and you never talk to my table and my group?” The thought crushed me that I had been only talking to people who looked like me and my staff had only been talking to people who looked like them. This was not Unbuntu.
Since then, we changed our entire approach. We have intentionally worked out of having friends and partnerships at local schools, while also partnering with local churches in the same area. By working with both schools and churches we receive two of the most important resources – time and money. As our organization tries to expand, we only expand if the new opportunity can pass three criteria:
1. Does the school want us there?
2. Is the local church excited about us being there and can we partner with them?
3. Do we have enough people that can give enough time to invest into the schools and students.
Unbuntu is the way we will be able to reach every kid everywhere for eternity. I just recently moved from Omaha to Sacramento, bringing this approach with me to a city with others who are already practicing Unbuntu. Moving forward, as we are partner with the school and the church we will be together and see the goal we pursue – every student touched by Jesus.
Lamar Pringle; Director for Sacramento Young Life & Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church of Sacramento.
To learn more about Lamar and other people who are making a difference in their communities check out Convergence.World