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Student Missions Blog

Hawaii: The beauty of the gospel

Student Missions Blog: After a semester of trying to get our schedules to match up, I finally was able to take John on an adventure to Rainbow Falls.

Lessons from Hispanic Baptists in Texas

João Chaves: Lessons from Hispanic Baptists in Texas

Preface from Baptist University of the Américas President René Maciel: The Baptist University of the Américas exists to train and prepare Hispanic church leaders to, in turn, grow Hispanic Baptist church work. Our connection to Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas goes back to the beginning. Many Hispanic Baptist churches have supported and cared for our school and our students over many years. The Hispanic convention continues to pray, care for and support us as we still train more Hispanic Baptist church ministers than the eight other Texas Baptist universities combined. The majority of our students come from Texas Baptist Hispanic congregations, although many enroll from other states and countries. One of those is João Chaves, whose thoughts appear in this column. Thank you, Convención, for encouraging and supporting BUA nearly 70 years.

I became Latino when I exited the plane in Miami, Fla. Before then, I was just a Brazilian, and one who enjoyed the pleasure of identifying with a somewhat privileged sector of Brazilian society. If anyone had asked me what “race” I was, I would have—after quickly recovering from the shock of being asked such a strange question—reluctantly answered “white.” 

joao chaves130João ChavesIt was only after my involuntary and unexpected metamorphosis from Brazilian to Latino that I began my journey toward acknowledgement of the importance of place. From the vantage point of my recently inherited minority status, I noticed the profound ways in which social contexts influenced knowledge claims—how characteristics such as race, nationality, gender, education and income have a bearing on the way reality is imagined. 

Only after I enrolled in the Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio was I able to learn how, given my realization of the importance of place, I could engage the Latina/o community of which I became a part in fruitful, thoughtful and effective ways. My time at BUA was challenging and special, and the more I look back at what I learned there, the more I realize how much I was impacted by the BUA experience.  

I remember, for instance, my post-BUA experience in seminary, when people tried to talk about diversity and global perspectives, and I had come from a place where some of my classes included people from 13 countries—from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Américas. It was only then, in seminary, I finally fully realized the depth of BUA’s mission: “The formation, from the Hispanic context, of cross-cultural Christian leaders.” 

Education comes from a place

The first deep recognition in this statement is the unusual and even odd recognition that education comes from a place—a socio-cultural environment heavily informs the way in which the educational event happens. Education always comes from a place, from a context, but if one looks at the mission statements of institutions of higher education around this nation, one hardly will find this recognition. 

But this word in BUA’s statement—“from”—is a word whose power became clearer than ever to me in seminary, when I encountered many seminarians who wanted to speak from nowhere, as if they had a monopoly on truth rather than a perspective. The “good, the true and the beautiful” are things we need to strive for. But in our globalized, pluralized society, the search for truth must begin with the acknowledgement we come from a place; we speak from somewhere. 

So paradoxically, BUA’s mission to form students “from the Hispanic context” is precisely the recognition that opens space for authentic appreciation of insights coming from other contexts. This recognition, that education comes “from” somewhere, helped me navigate the difficulties of dealing with people who act as if they came from nowhere. 

BUA helped

The cross-cultural education at BUA does not begin, in principle, with a disposition toward conformity, but it begins with the acknowledgement of place. This is extremely helpful and more unusual than it should be. BUA helped and still helps current and former students and me navigate the politics of difference in a pluralized and flat world in which difference is increasingly becoming the norm. 

texas baptist voices right120As I look in retrospect to my experience at BUA and in prospect to whatever God has for me, I am thankful for BUA and for how it helped me and many others make sense of life “from” somewhere. 

João Chaves is a graduate of Baptist University of the Américas and Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. He teaches as an adjunct for BUA while pursuing a doctor of philosophy in religion degree at Baylor. 

Texas Baptist Voices

Richard Ray: Bivocational/Small Church Conference will help ministers, families

I now turn your attention to the upcoming 29th annual Bivocational/Small Church Conference, hosted by your Bivocational/Small Church Association on the campus of Baptist Temple Church in San Antonio.

Letters: Jesus wouldn't 'pack heat'

Letters: Jesus wouldn't 'pack heat'

I don’t think Jesus would want his followers to “pack heat” in churches—or anywhere else.

Down Home: Super heroes & made-up rules

Down Home: Super heroes & made-up rules

The mind of a 4 ½-year-old boy is a fun and fascinating place. Kind of like a theme park that changes every day.

Right or Wrong? Subway etiquette ads

Right or Wrong? Subway etiquette ads

Ads in New York City subways promote etiquette. For example, they tell riders not to take up excess space or eat smelly food on the trains. Is this ad campaign “social engineering” or a good idea for improving social values?

2nd Opinion: VBS ‘still a marvelous way of reaching children’

2nd Opinion: VBS ‘still a marvelous way of reaching children’

This summer, children will walk into beautifully decorated rooms, and their lives will be changed. I am thankful for each VBS.

Editorial: A quarter-century after the SBC holy warEditorial: A quarter-century after the SBC holy war

Editorial: A quarter-century after the SBC holy war

This past week marked the 25th anniversary of the final battle in the Southern Baptist holy war. The former combatants noted the occasion appropriately: They got on with current business.

Oregon: Such beauty and such pain

Oregon: Such beauty and such pain

Student Missions Blog: When we arrived in Portland, it didn’t take me long to realize we weren’t in Texas anymore. It also didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this place.

Student Missions Blog

Georgia: God answers prayer

Student Missions Blog: Improving in prayer was one of my first goals upon arrival to the Living Vine. Thankfully, God already has rocked me.

Haiti: Release from chains of shame

Haiti: Release from chains of shame

Student Missions Blog: After trekking through a winding uphill climb, we arrive at a beautiful new home in the mountains. Our team is here to take part of the tradition of dedicating each new home that is built.

Student Missions Blog

Germany: God opens doors before we get to them

Student Missions Blog: Before my co-worker, Kasey, and I even arrived in Germany, God was opening doors at the University of Mainz, where we will spend our summer doing outreach.

Texas Baptist Voices

In Touch: At the Legacy Award ceremony

On June 7, Kathleen and I had a great day at Independence Baptist Church near Brenham for the annual Legacy Award ceremony.

 
 
 
 
 
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