One of BGU’s distinctives is the Global Urban Immersion experience. Led by graduates or faculty who live in the destination city, students go on location see the work of God in places of poverty and power. A good immersion provides excellent cross-cultural tools and relationships but also disrupts easy conclusions that miss the complexities of culture. We see the work of God far beyond what we had imagined. The result is humility and a deep rest that comes from knowing our place. We are not in control. We are not the hero.
Most stories in literature and film are built around a protagonist who faces challenges set by an antagonist or obstacles. The reader/audience is drawn in as they vicariously take on the identity and emotions of the protagonist. There is something about being human that yearns to be the hero facing and overcoming great struggles.
Too often we rewrite the narrative of our own lives with us and our “side” as the protagonist. Our narrative judges the other “side” as evil or less than us. We justify marginalizing others. We believe lies that support our narrative. We view our race, nation, or culture as superior or live vicariously through a favorite sports hero, celebrity or politician as if our self-worth is defined by the success of someone we’ve never met. We navigate a world full of whirlpools trying to pull us in by our need to be a hero in a hero tribe.
During a recent BGU global webinar celebrating the U.S. holiday commemorating the life and work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., those of us who live in the U.S. began to reveal how we were getting drawn into various sides of polarizing political and social media narratives. Yet, we were gently reminded by BGU family members outside of the U.S. that perhaps our identity was too wrapped up in our national identity. Perhaps by reading so much about the lies on the “other” side we had lost the ability to see the lies on “our” side. Many shared that the consistent political turmoil in their own nations removes the temptation for them to ever make national citizenship more of their identity than their kingdom of God citizenship. They expressed that recent turmoil in the U.S. may be a gift in disguise to remind us of the reality that we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven first. It was a type of global immersion experience. The cross-culture perspective provided fresh humility that leads to rest.
BGU is a global cross-cultural disruptive immersion experience in city immersion events, online courses, and lifelong relationships among graduates. The goal is to disrupt and purposefully create discomfort to find a peace that in beyond understanding as we find rest in the place God has prepared for us.