Who Is Your 'Other'? By David Sayre

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Heroic Leadership Institute (HLI) was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Up until that point, I hadn’t made many independent decisions as an adult-being that I entered HLI right out of high school. However, it was not only one of the best decisions, but one of the most revolutionary. A little background on me is that since the age of 11 I grew up in the Vineyard movement. I am forever grateful to those who invested in me during my prime physical developmental years. Coming into HLI I thought I had a good foundation for Jesus. As any good high school teen, I truly believed that I was in such a good spot for my spirituality. After all, I did prayer team every other week, which was a sign that I was spiritually mature. Right? Entering Lewiston HLI during year 5 proved to me how far from the truth that was. Yeah I had experienced Jesus myself, but I was missing what I now consider one of the main things about following Jesus: pursuing other people the way Jesus did. Throughout the year of HLI I had grown such a heart to connect people who were unchurched, who considered themselves as Andy Stanley would say ‘nones’.

I found Jesus beckoning me to reach out further, to look deeper, and to go into places that the church wasn’t. HLI had put me in a position that I could trust Jesus to work on me, as well as pour His life into me, so much that when I was with those who were unchurched I could have Jesus flow through me. After HLI I went straight to University, but not just your typical university. The university is called College of Environmental Science and Forestry. That’s right, I go to hippie school. The people that were now in my atmosphere were passionate about changing the world, loved science and the logical rationale that followed it. Many tended to be spiritually open but severely atheistic or agnostic at best. Truly people that Jesus would have hung out with. After my experience at HLI it felt like there was no more right place for me than here. I fell in love with the people that surrounded me, and I thought, ‘Man, Jesus wants to encounter such lovely folk’. I was captivated with the idea that Jesus wanted to use me to woo them to Him. For that to happen, I had to enter into this culture that felt so other to me.  A culture that focused on experiences through drugs. One that had come to the logical conclusion that if God existed, then they were not worthy of Him.

Growing up in the church I did not have much experience with the culture that I was surrounded by. Yet in my pursuit of the people around me to know Jesus personally, I figured the best way was to go where the people are. I was purposefully putting myself in situations that were 'other'; all the while I was saying, 'Jesus would you be with me. Let me see the people I interact with like you do'. I began to hope people would see the peace they felt with me, and I saw people truly opening up to Jesus. Now in my 4th semester here, I am seeing people left and right not only experiencing Jesus but also stepping into a position of wanting to follow Him. I will end by asking the question I started with, Who is your 'other'? Where is Jesus beckoning you to step outside of the church bubble, and radically pursue people that are so other to you?

Mary McKellick