Every year Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) hosts a retreat somewhere in the US. People of all races, ages and denominations attend this event to learn about communities, nation-wide, outreach opportunites and how to grow personally.
Northwestern College has been a participant in this event in past years, by sending students to cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago. This year, however, NW representatives made a journey down to New Orleans.
Led by Rahn Franklin, multi-cultural interns Nayely Becerra-Balbuena, Carly Rozeboom and Denise Cowherd flew to New Orleans on Tuesday, Sept. 10, the day prior to the conference. The event lasted from Wednesday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Sept. 14.
The conference consisted of group workshops, communal worship and many guest speakers. One speaker was Michelle Alexander who served for several years as director of the Racial Justice Project at ACLU of Northern California, which spearheaded a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. Another speaker, Leroy Barber, founded resoration ministries in Philadelphia to serve the homeless. Workshop groups varied from how to view “singleness” all the way to “Jesuz, Hip Hop, Film, and the Nones.”
The conference addressed many stigmas related to race, age, style and other characteristics. Speakers talked about how Christians should react to people different than themselves with love rather than judgment.
Junior Nayely Becerra-Balbuena said she chose to attend seminars that she felt directly affected her life. In attending the workshop on “singleness,” she hoped to gain some insight not only for herself but also to share with a NW campus that is known for its “ring by spring” mentality.
In this seminar, the participants were asked to make a list of the blessings they had received from being single and of the brokenness they’d felt as well. There was a panel of singles of various ages to discuss how singleness has affected their lives.
Some statements that stood out to Becerra-Balbuena during the workshop were “don’t break my season of single” and “if my face isn’t the problem (of why I am single), it must be something inside me.”
Another topic that stood out to Becerra-Balbuena was the prejudice placed on felons. Speaker Michelle Alexander talked about her experience with a man who had tried to reveal the corrupt police system in his neighborhood, but when he stated that he was a felon she turned him away.
Alexander proceeded to explain how months later the man was framed by the corrupt police. It became apparent to Becerra-Balbuena that people accused of felonies receive no aid and end up back in jail largely because no one will give them a job or a means to provide for themselves.
Senior Denise Cowherd also attended CCDA’s event and was impacted by attending workshops such as “Arts n’ da Hood;” “Jesuz, hip hop, film and the nones;” and the “8 Keys of CCDA,” she was taught about leadership and awareness. One principle that stood out to her was on the topic of helping communitys propser and the fact that “you can’t change something from the outside.”
Since the conference, Cowherd said she feels pressed to let honesty and awareness be her new motto in life.
The students who attended this trip were able to gain perspective on the world while interacting with other people and attending workshops. The conference,which helped spur new passion and growth among the students who attended the event, allowed them to positively impact those around them throught their daily lives.