There’s so much on my mind at the moment but this weekend I really gained a greater level of respect from one of my good friends.
I’ll never forget meeting Bernard. I was at a bible study on campus that was talking about marriage and how it's a difficult/beautiful relationship. The pastor was talking about how the relationship is naturally difficult because you have 2 imperfect people coming together to become one. At the end of the sermon Bernard asked a question that I always asked myself. He stood up and asked what’s the point of getting married? (now I know the answer). I started to laugh out loud and everybody looked at me.
After the meeting he approached me because I laughed at him. Right there was the beginning of our relationship. That encounter describes the foundation of our relationship.
Me and him are very bold in our quest for truth. Most of the times we don’t care how people view us as we search for truth. Bernard actually helped me grow in my relationship with Christ as we often had talks about different things and he taught me several biblical truths. Bernard is a really great guy who takes pride on doing things with excellence. Also he is from Haiti and moved to the United States at a very young age. He told me that he lived most of his life in the hood of fort Lauderdale. I was somewhat surprised he told me he was from the hood because of the way he carries himself. This is no shots to anybody from rough neighborhoods but environments in general take a role in personality formation, mind you this is not absolute, this is merely an observation.
This past weekend I went to a wedding in Florida and I was able to visit Bernard in Fort Lauderdale. I remember he told me he was from the hood but I did not know what to expect. Because sometimes when people say they’re from the hood they like to glamorize and exaggerate where they come from. However when I pulled into the apartment complex it wasn’t anything I imagined. It was around 2 am in the morning and there were a lot of people outside. You could see some drug deals happening as I drove through the neighborhood.
I wanted to park and go inside his house but I didn’t think that was a good idea. There was a group of about 10 guys just standing outside in the courtyard of the apartment complex. I thought to myself this is not a good idea because I’m wearing a suit because I just got back from a wedding and if I walk to his apartment they might possibly rob me because they think I have money. Bernard didn’t want us to go inside anyways and I think that was probably for the better. He told us to drive around the parking lot to pick him up.
Later on in the night he told me about a time when he had a nice new bike and he bought it back to his place. He said he made a mistake because a group of guys saw him put the bike in his apartment. Later he left the house and as he returned he noticed the door was broken into and his bike was gone. He told me now he never wears or shows any sign of wealth because he could be a potential candidate to get robbed.
As he was telling me this I could only imagine being in his shoes. If I was brought up in an environment when people have to fight for resources to survive then I would have been a different person. He’s truly a leader that does not conform to his environment. After going to visit him my heart was so heavy because I could only think about his family and his safety. Then I began to wonder and ask myself WHY? What’s the difference between me and him? The only difference between us is the chances of the circumstances we are given. I could only ask God these questions because he has the answers. How come God you put me in a position of privilege and others in a less fortunate situation? I ask these questions out of curiosity, not anger or bitterness but truly asking what makes me so special. How come I am so fortunate?
Below is a video of a movie that illustrates the random chance of someone being born into poverty or wealth
Voices of Service
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee Year and the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service. For more, go through our archives below