A blog by Stefie Dominguez, EPA Fellow
In this day and age, being an EPA Fellow for two years in a row seems like a crazy idea. Societal norms usually dictate that I should be squirreling away money or climbing up some corporate ladder while I’m still in my 20’s. Apparently choosing to spend my first two years out of college working at a place like Bayshore Christian Ministries with the kids we serve is an anomaly. It’s not something that leads to a life of comfort. I didn’t know that when I signed up, but I know that now. The number one thing I have learned while living in East Palo Alto and serving as an EPA Fellow, is that fear and stigma have paralyzed some of us Christians from actually making a difference in the world. It is easy to love justice and compassion—until there’s a personal cost.
"It is easy to love justice and compassion--until there's a personal cost."
The streets of East Palo Alto (EPA) were once known for violence, the memory of which can keep many people away. Through the EPA Fellows program, I have intentionally stepped out of my comfort zone to live and work in EPA. Here, my eyes have been opened to many systemic injustices. I’ve learned about how badly broken our education system is. I’ve learned about immigration policies that directly affect the families I interact with. And, I’ve learned about the issue of mass incarceration—a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away in America. These injustices are an astonishingly real part of daily life for our residents. Even so, confronting these topics is not always comfortable. But, where in Scripture does God call us to live in comfort? If we claim to be Jesus followers, then we need to look at how He lived His life and follow what He was about. When I look at stories of Jesus in Scripture, I see someone who spent his young adult years radically reaching out to, and walking alongside, people who were different than Him. I see someone who stood up and advocated for the marginalized. I see a social anomaly.
"When I look at stories of Jesus in Scripture, I see someone who spent his young adult years radically reaching out to, and walking alongside, people who were different than Him. "
In spite of fear and stigma that we may face as we enter into communities so affected by injustice, Jesus calls us to a life of service. He is our Protector after all!
Reflecting back on these past two years as an EPA Fellow, I realize that my life goals have changed from what they once were. I learned how to live with my eyes more open. I now recognize the value of confronting the wrong in our nation, and doing something about it. Comfortable Christianity seems to be an epidemic spreading through some American churches, and it is my (new) goal in life to never be infected by it. Will you join me in this mission, even if we have to get a little uncomfortable?
Editors Note: We are proud to announce Stefie's time in East Palo Alto with Bayshore Christian Ministries is not over. She will return this fall in the staff position of Middle School Program Manager.