What does it look like to live out our faith? That was the question explored by more than 300 registrants from 17 states at the Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series (AVDS) weekend Feb. 19 to 21.
The weekend’s theme, “Not Just on a Sunday,” featured Shane Claiborne, an ordinary radical, founder of The Simple Way – a faith-based justice community in inner-city Philadelphia – and nationally known Christian author and speaker.
Claiborne shared stories of his experiences working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, travelling to Iraq with Christian Peacemakers Teams and the restoration of life in his own community in Philadelphia. Claiborne called participants to “digest Jesus into us” and to let his love “ooze through our veins” so that “His love would become our love.”
Participants were invited to be attentive to the ways God is at work already in their hometowns and the ways they can be the hands and feet of Jesus to their neighbors.
Claiborne prayed, “God we do pray that you would give us a fearless love in a fearful world. Help us to love in a way that wears evil down. Give us the holy courage, Jesus, that you had as you faced the cross and as you faced Herod. Also give us your grace, your love and your mercy that sees even in our most bitter opponent, a child of God that is not beyond redemption.”
Separate tracks were offered on Saturday afternoon for congregational life, headlined by Claiborne, and youth ministry, with speaker Nes Espinosa. Espinosa serves as the executive director of Timoteo Football Philadelphia, which supports communities by empowering men to mentor youth through athletics and spiritual formation, and attends Oxford Circle Mennonite Church. He shared both about the brokenness of his home community that has been labeled the “Badlands of Philadelphia,” but also the work that God has done and is doing in his community.
“I appreciated hearing many different questions and points of view presented, but realizing that everyone shared the common goal of bringing Christ’s love, healing and redemption to places and situations where pain and brokenness have occurred,” said conference participant Mary Bender ’15 (Harrisonburg, Va.), a junior at Bluffton (Ohio) University. “Listening to Shane’s stories and message also made me remember how both beautifully simple and involved following Christ is; He invites us into his love, but it requires one’s whole life, every aspect. Seeing this group of people come together to find deeper understanding gave a snapshot of the wider church and hope for healing in the world.”