Destroy Walls, Embrace Diversity!

Growing up (from childhood until late teens), I was only in direct contact with a predominately African American context! All my schools, social outings, churches, sports, and any other activities were always around peers that looked like me… In fact, I wasn’t exposed to REAL diverse relationships until my mid twenties (sad to say).

Was anything wrong with the way I was reared? No. It was natural, and the area where my family lived reflected my race, culture, history, and background. However, I believe growing up without REAL diversity can impair you a little (no matter what race you are). A lack of diversity does two horrible things:

1) It creates stereotypes about other races – Stereotypes and negative imagery creates a negative lens through which people are seen. Of course, cultures are different (ALL SHOULD BE RESPECTED), but negative prejudices, stereotypes, and assumptions can cause people to not see the beauty in all cultures. The sad thing about stereotypes is that most of them could be totally FALSE (you have to get to know people for yourself).

2) It creates distance between cultures & races – When stereotypes are formed, it accompanies opinions, judgement, dehumanization, and ultimately distance. It saddens me that segregation still happens more than intergration on Sunday mornings in the South. In fact, the horrible thing about distance is that it causes coldness, numbness, and a lack of sympathy and respect for other cultures.

Why does this bother me? Because I love diversity and am an advocate for reconciliation. Of course, there is a negative history that haunts us all, but I believe love is greater and will be the only way to bridge the gap in the present. I didn’t grow up with much diversity, but have a heart to bridge the gap between races & cultures.

Will this be easy? NO! But, I can model and reflect it as much as I can in my own life (I’m learning too)…

That’s why “diversity” is a core value of #lovebeyondwalls. It is important for us to accept, embrace, and respect people from all walks of life. Everybody has a story!

I was recently asked, “Why did you choose the name #lovebeyondwalls?” And my response was simple,

“At any given point, political, race, class, religious, and cultural walls can separate us all… Keeping us from solutions to problems, togetherness, and the main focus, LOVE! In fact, I believe God’s love is the only thing that can roam pass those walls and reach people where they are with the good news.”

This morning, I am joining my brother Carl Nichols (pastor of Relevant Church), to discuss my homeless journey, but more importantly to reflect a diverse picture of God’s larger family. As we interview to talk about God’s mission, we are indirectly destroying walls that exists between cultures & races (especially as it pertains to the church world).

Our coming together shows two ways to close the gap on the distance,

1) Come together. The first way to destroy walls is to take a step toward reconciliation and toward a conversation.

2) Partnering. By partnering you get a chance to work along side each other and understand each other’s background, story, history, and how each person sees the world.

I am excited because the earth is a Mosaic full of cultures, and so is the God we serve! I am grateful for the diverse relationships God has given me in my life. Here’s a thought, “Destroy Walls, Embrace Diversity…”

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4K Socks & 1K To Go

So far, we have raised 4K socks over the course of six days. Generous donors from all over have banded together to bring support, resources, and encouragement for us to accomplish #project5K.

We have had people ship socks from all over (including four different states, and from one international country). Today is the last day to gather the last 1K socks, and am confident that #lovebeyondwalls will raise them.

Today, I’ll be at one of the drop off locations (Tees & Quotes) on Peters Street from 12noon-5pm.

If you’d like to support, drop-off at one of our [LOCATIONS], come see me today at Tees & Quotes, or [GIVE] on our site!

Terence

Rain, Socks, & 45 Degree Weather!

Right now,

It’s hard knowing that some of my friends who are homeless have on absolutely no socks during the winter! How do I know? Because I spoke to one the other day. Below is the picture I snapped yesterday outside (in 45 Degree Weather):

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People have asked me, “Why are you doing this…?”

Well, to be honest I CARE. It is just that simple.

I care that there are men and women who live downtown and have no place to go,

I care about the stories that I heard while sleeping under bridges, and

I care that it is tough to survive without the proper necessities.

I know I can’t save everyone (I’m no savior), but I can follow Jesus into the wild and show the compassion he showed. When I read the Bible, I’m ignited with the passion that Jesus had when he saw broken people in his palestinian context. There’s a verse that I love found in Matthew 9:36 (NASB). It says,

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

Two things stand out to me…First, he saw! Jesus saw the brokenness of the people, and he sympathized and empathized with their pain.

Secondly, he move. He stood up, and met all the needs he could… He befriended the broken, cared for those who were distressed, and loved the unloveable.

That’s our mission with #lovebeyondwalls! We want to build a #lovearmy that loves people where they are! NO MOTIVES, NO GIMMICKS!

With that being said, It is raining and many homeless people do not have on socks today! We are trying to raise 5K pairs of socks to resource our brothers and sisters with socks to aid them in their survival on the streets. You can view the story the story about why we are doing this [HERE]

Take socks two the two locations on the flyer below, or give to us on our [GIVE] page! Thanks for your continued support.

Terence

5k

 

 

72 Hours & Collaboration

Over the last week, I have received calls from all over: L.A., New York, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, and a few other states. Many people from these states are talking about possible collaborative efforts, and wanted to know how #lovebeyondwalls could come to those states to help raise awareness.

Although we are pacing ourselves here in the city of Atlanta, I learned something very important about homelessness (in my 72 Hours), what it will take to combat it, how we can help those who are living on the streets without any resources or means, and what it will take to raise awareness across this country about this epidemic.

It takes collaboration! It takes an army of people banded together taking #lovebeyondwalls to make a difference in this sensitive area. Why? Because homelessness is a vast issue. There are many causes for homelessness in the United States: Addiction, Poverty, Job-loss, Foreclosures, Mental health, Lack of affordable housing, Domestic Violence, and a host of other social issues.

n6KjYIunBY-6_vjceLV505TD-_YOsR9hHYyx0EPoh3MIn fact, a stat shows that out of the 300+ million people that live in the United States 3.5 million of those people are expected to be homeless each year (stat taken from homeaid.org). This isn’t something a few organizations, or a couple people passing out sandwiches can handle alone. This epidemic will take people from all sorts of industries, churches, faith communities, backgrounds, and neighborhoods to come up with solutions to this problem (and work together not individually). Will it be easy? No. But, it will have to start in the trenches (grassroots), and expand nationally.

It’s just as my IG friend Arkeedah McCormick says, “Collaboration is truly amazing! You get to meet, listen, and engage with many individuals and hear their stories.”

Collaboration will do three things:

1) Create strength. Unity is a powerful tool, and has the ability to provide strength to any movement or cause.

2) Create resources. No one person or organization has all the resources, but through collaboration and unity strength and resources appear.

3) Create a voice. When people band together to take #lovebeyondwalls, the voiceless are heard, and their issues are discussed.

In 2014, #lovebeyondwalls will partner with people from all over to make a difference, and raise more awareness about homelessness in the city of Atlanta, and in the United States. If you are reading this, and would like to partner contact us [HERE].

A few days ago, #lovebeyondwalls mobilized 300+ people to resource people with food, clothes, and other items to survive on the streets in downtown Atlanta. It took collaboration!

Check out the video showing the collaborative efforts below:

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Terence