WMI cross-cultural trips can be so many things to so many participants. Eye opening, transformative, heart-breaking, inspiring, joyful. No matter the place for the culture, students and others can always see God at work in the world. Below are a number of reflections from participants and leaders. Read them and consider joining us in this workthrough your prayer, participation, or financial support.

A Deep Sense of Home 

Shannon Garrett-Headen, M.Div. Student and 2019 WMI-MUI Trip Participant to South Africa

I never dreamed I would ever have the opportunity to travel to Africa. Growing up in the United States as an African-American, Africa seemed like a dream, a phantom, that I could never fully see, grab, or embrace.  As soon as we entered the South African street, Dr. Smith turned to our group and said, “welcome home." Africa is the cradle of humankind for all people, but it means something very different to people of African descent, particularly those of us who are the descendants of slaves. Being on the hallowed grounds, I achieved the hope and the dream of my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother, and all my foremothers, I finally made it back home for the first time.

However, South Africa is not what I envisioned. In many ways, it is painfully Western and familiar. From the golden arches of McDonald’s in Sunnyside, to the garish high-end mall in Sandton with its shiny shrines to Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, I was simultaneously discomforted and comforted. Walking through Alexandra Township, a relic from the Apartheid era, I came face-to-face with South Africa’s struggle for freedom and land from a familiar oppressor. South Africa was not directly touched by the transatlantic slave trade; therefore, it is highly unlikely that I have any specific lineage in South Africa. However, we are linked by the trauma and the struggle for freedom. Colonialism on American and South African soil has left us with deep scars and open wounds.

Yet, in South Africa, I met beautiful, brilliant, black people full of optimism, full of hope, and full of love. I met awe-inspiring, Christ-centered black folks who found God in the bitter and broken places of life. Racism and white supremacist systems exist in many cultures, but they are all contextual to the environments in which they thrive. Bonded by our struggles for freedom, we are both reimaging, reimagining, and redefining our personhood as humans made in the image of God without the barriers of the manufactured systems that deem us inferior. South Africa taught me, “Ubuntu," which means “I am because you are." Mother Africa is our collective homeland and we are because she is.