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“LITES, what’s your goal for the day?” asked Nick Ward, Casa Linda site coordinator, on the first day of the 2018 Summer Program.  Fellow PT Corps Member Bri eagerly replied, “For our LITES to bond with each other.”

The LITE program stands for Leader In Training Experience and is a summer program geared towards high school students.  As you can imagine, getting a random group of teenagers to bond was a tall order.

Bri and I followed our curriculum and planned a few “Who am I?” activities. We opened with the M&M Ice Breaker. Next, we started devotional and watched a short clip of a Jackie Hill Perry interview with Rapzilla on “How the Gospel and Being Made in the Image of God Informs Social Justice.” Next, we read a Fervr article entitled “You Were Made In God’s Image,” which expanded on Jackie’s ideas of interdependence.

I asked, “So what does it mean to be the image of God to you?” I thought someone would say something, but instead it was just an awkward silence. Bonding was looking almost impossible to reach and I decided to rephrase the question.

“Jackie mentioned that she reflects the image of God most when she is creating. What are some ways you reflect the image of God,” I asked. A couple of people spoke this time, but not everyone.

I realized that not everyone in our 12 person circle shared the same beliefs in God and in assuming, I actually wasn’t being inclusive.

“Does everyone believe in God? You don’t have to raise your hand just keep your answer in your heart. This is a safe space and I understand because I’ve been there before,” I said.

I then told them that we all different faith journeys and that we would go around the room and share our stories. I went first.

This was the beginning of our first successful bonding circle. Bri and I got a chance to learn more about our LITES and they got a chance to learn more about us.

Though this is my first week working with my LITES at Project Transformation North Texas, I believe these experiences are what the program is about: creating safe spaces, building mutual relationships, and challenging beliefs. I’m looking forward to experiencing more circles like these with my LITES at Casa Linda.

To support the programs at the Casa Linda site, and across Project Transformation North Texas, this summer, click here to donate.