The Good Somali
What if the incarnation took place in San Diego, in 2011? How would Jesus tell the parable of the Good Samaritan?
This last week we hosted an urban youth group from San Diego for a week of service. For the first teaching time, I taught them about the parable of the Good Samaritan. I emphasized the fact that Jews and Samaritans were ethnic, religious, and political enemies in the first century. I discussed how amazing it was that Jesus made the Samaritan, the ultimate “other”, the hero of the story. We discussed how our response to God’s love should compel us to love beyond all worldly boundaries.
To drive home the text, I asked the group to imagine how Jesus would have retold the story if he had walked the streets of San Diego. The first guy started in, without hesitation, and told the story of the Good Somali who helped the wounded Mexican. Then he went on to talk about how extreme tension between the Latino community and the Somali community in San Diego has often led to violence.
He talked about riots in the park, avoiding the Somali neighborhood, and the general animosity between the two communities. Typically, I would find this to be both sad and a bit intriguing, but this time I was nervous. Almost all of the members of the youth group were Hispanic and we had them scheduled to serve Somalis all week. Yikes!
The mix was either a recipe for chaos, or an opportunity for the Prince of Peace to do his thing.
And he did.
It was beautiful to see these students selflessly serving the Somali Bantu community that we’re trying to bless. They helped with the English classes, cleaned the center, and shared some laughs.
Sitting down for a meal, at the end of the week, I was almost moved to tears when a few students said the highlight of their week was working with the Somalis. They talked about how their stereotypes were changed and that God was growing a more loving heart within them. May this week in Phoenix have a ripple effect on Hispanic-Somali relations in San Diego for years to come. Amen!