By Wanda Ashworth-Valencia
FEAR – it can be a powerful word and a powerful emotion.
When I moved to Homestead, Florida in 2004, I had no idea how much fear impacted my new community and contributed to the cycle of poverty.
One of the first families I met shared with me their struggle to survive financially. When we talked about their monthly expenses, I discovered this family was paying $35 per child per week to ride a private bus from the school only two blocks away. When questioned about this expense, they quickly explained to me that this was necessary to protect their children from another race that lived in our community. Because they had heard stories of crimes perpetrated by a few people of one race, they extended that knowledge to an entire people group and became fearful of all interaction. This family lived on the edge of survival, yet they were paying $105 per week for their 3 children to ride 2 blocks from school.
Fear often causes us to make poor choices. Perhaps this is why the bible is full of references to “Fear Not.”
The good news is that Homestead is making progress in racial reconciliation.
The private bus company that was exploiting the fear of our community no longer has a bus route from our elementary school. Our elementary school has contracted with crossing guards that are known and respected by our children. Now, all of the students of Open House Ministries walk home from school together, no longer isolated by fear, but building a new community where all are brothers and sisters.
God did not give us a spirit of fear.
We must challenge stereotypes and prejudice wherever it exists and build a new, beloved community. “Thy Kingdom come…”
Wanda Ashworth-Valencia is a CBF field personnel serving as the Site Director at Open House Ministries, the Homestead Site of CBF partner-ministry Touching Miami with Love.