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Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers

As we drove into Dallas for the first time a year ago, the first impressive landmarks my family saw were the many stately bridges. The Margaret Hunt Bridge with its 400-foot steel arch and the cables radiating from it in an expressive manner beckoned us to the bustling downtown. I finally saw the bridge up close on my thirty-ninth birthday. After a delicious dinner at the exciting restaurant incubator community, Trinity Groves, my family, Cathy Webb, and Carol Tabor walked the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge. We gawked at the setting sun along the Trinity River and gleefully explored the bridge’s oversized chairs, human chessboard, and vendors selling glow-in-the-dark glasses, fidget spinners, and snow cones. Even though the sun was going to bed, humanity was coming alive. The families and couples on the Pedestrian Bridge were diverse and lovely. All people, from all backgrounds, found a reason to be together in joy and exploration. The bridge brought us together when barriers sought to keep us apart.
Barriers. We are living in a divided world. Every day brings news of wars between nations, skirmishes between races, and distrust between faith groups. Self-interest, fear, anger, and national pride are rupturing the human family into bitter, isolated tribes. The walls of misunderstanding rise as people position themselves for power. The barriers of beliefs, skin color, economic status, and ideology keep us separated and suspicious of one another. We must get to know each other and share our stories so we can build bridges and break down barriers.
On Saturday, we, the people of Royal Lane Baptist Church, built a bridge. We hosted an interfaith bake sale with the Turkish Muslim community of the Dialogue Institute of Dallas. My good friend, Emrah Aktepe, approached me with the idea that our two faith groups should come together to raise money for hurricane Harvey victims. Our Turkish friends provided the savory foods, sweet snacks, and rich coffee. Royal Lane was the host, providing the space, tables and chairs, and volunteers. It was a perfect match and we raised over $2,400 for hurricane relief. Every time I thought we would run out of food, someone would arrive with another big container of pastries, salad, or rice. The delicacies filled our stomachs while the fellowship and new friendships filled our spirits. A bridge between two communities was built that day and the barriers of misunderstanding and misperception were broken down.
Bridges are the connections while barriers are the obstacles. The future of the world is in our hands and we can choose the way we want to live and thrive. Either we can build bridges or create barriers. Which will you choose?
Pastor Mike

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