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Speak because you believe
June 24, 2015

By Mara Stephan | I invite you to think about something that you believe in. Maybe a political issue, a human rights issue, a matter of religion, anything. I now invite you to think about what you have done to share your insights about your belief. Maybe a conversation with a friend or family member, a letter to a representative, again anything.

In the fourth verse of 2 Corinthians, there is a strong emphasis on the phrase “I believed, and so I spoke.” A few years ago, I would not have even know where to begin to approach this concept, so I’m going to share a little about my path to advocating for something I believe in.

I am a part of the Housing Task Force at ECLC working with Beacon to build 66 West Apartments for youth experiencing homelessness in our community. A little more than a year ago, I was asked to speak at our “Let’s Build It” rally for this project.

Two pieces of information that now become relevant to my story: Number one: I don’t generally love to speak in front of people. But as much as my nerves tried to persuade me to say no, I knew that this was something that I had to do.

And number two: Beacon uses the phrase “we believe in home.” (I bet you can even see it at the top of this page). So by following through with this opportunity, it became the first instance in which I literally believed and therefore spoke.

Working to end homelessness has become a big part of what I believe, and I have been exposed to so much about society and about faith. Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to visit a homeless shelter in Minneapolis where we got to listen to the personal stories of six individuals who had previously experienced homelessness. My main take-away was that everyone has a different story, and there is no way that we can make general statements about people experiencing homelessness because they are just that--people. People who somehow got lost in a cycle of a system they couldn't get out of.

What stuck with me most was when one girl asked what had given these individuals hope to carry on--to survive--and almost every single person credited friends and other people in their lives. And to quote Shawn Spencer from the TV series Psych, “God’s greatest gift… is friendship.”

I am positive that so many of you already do this, but I just want to end on a reminder that if you are passionate about something, never be afraid to fight for what’s right, fight for your rights, fight for others’ rights. Just never be afraid to speak because you believe.

Mara Stephan
Mara Stephan recently graduated from Edina High School and plans to attend the University of Minnesota next fall in the College of Science and Engineering. She is a member of Edina Community Lutheran Church and is passionate about working to end homelessness. Mara also loves playing sports- particularly basketball and ultimate Frisbee.