When Virginia Tech senior Bryan Carey heard that Chris Heuertz would be speaking at Reconcilers Weekend , he signed up for the two-day conference hosted at Duke Divinity School.
Carey, 24, wanted a space to continue thinking through the life that God may be calling him to after graduation, and he welcomed the opportunity to hear from those who had gone before him.
Over the years, Carey had worked with several organizations similar to the organization Heuertz co-directs called Word Made Flesh. This international non-profit organization embraces living with and partnering with “the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.” Carey spent time in the Amazon jungle, partnering in Christian ministry with the people who lived there. He formed friendships with homeless men and women in Houston, even moving into a neighborhood that many friends told him to avoid, so that he could be more intentional about forming authentic relationships. Carey saw the value and humanity of all the people he met during these two seasons in his life, and he struggled with the realities of disparity and division when he returned to school. Those experiences transformed how Carey thought of his friends who were poor.
“Being around broken people, crossing racial, socioeconomic boundaries and being in the midst of broken relationships and seeing my own brokenness and having conversations with other broken people about their brokenness — I think it finally allowed me to experience God in a deeper way so that the Gospel has become central to everything in my life,” he said.
Embracing mutuality and forming relationships—knowing that he has just as much to learn from vulnerable, marginalized friends as they do from him—is key for Carey, and for transforming the way missions is approached throughout the world.
Carey, who is pursuing an engineering degree, said that he is excited about where God may lead him after graduation. But it also is unnerving, he said, as he imagines choosing between a lucrative career or ministry with an organization such as Word Made Flesh.
“So many times our possessions prevent us from experiencing really good relationships,” he said. “I think the Gospel becomes very real in broken situations. When we shelter ourselves from brokenness by creating situations where we can provide for our own security and our own financial stability, we don’t realize that we’re falling into the temptation that Paul warns us about, that Jesus warns us about…that we really do fall into a trap.”