Questions and Restoration

July 5th, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017

Hello! My name is Max Tustin, and I am one of the 2017 Poetice Interns. Originally from Plainwell, MI, I recently graduated from Hope College with a BM in Vocal Music Education. I enjoy working with students, exploring the outdoors, and playing, performing, and writing music.

These last four weeks have been full of new experiences, challenges, and a whole lot of joy. With this being my first time leaving the country, I have felt myself continually stretched outside of my comfort zone. This was especially evident on our first Monday, when we paired off and went out into the nearby communities, sitting down with any families that invited us in. It was the first time I had witnessed such extreme poverty, and it left me overwhelmed with immense sorrow, guilt, and a ton of questions. This experience, along with other community outreach experiences, has pushed me to wrestle with my role here in Zambia, and contemplate how I can tangibly be a part of the restorative work that is being done here. It has also pushed me to consider the different types of poverty that are present in these communities, and how social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual poverty often match, and can even supersede, physical poverty. Though I still hold many questions in this area, I have already begun to see how God is bringing restoration in Zambia. This restoration for me was the most evident at the Music Academy’s Music Camp last weekend in Livingstone, where I had the opportunity to co-lead a guitar class of seven students. Through this experience, I was reminded of the joy and hope that lies in playing music, and how something that seems so small can have a massive impact. I have high hopes for the seeds that were planted at this camp.

Within my own faith, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what my identity truly is. In the past, I placed my identity in what I could do or what others thought of me, attaching my interior worth to my exterior success. This caused my self-concept to rise and fall with each success and failure, eventually leading to the belief that I in my myself am a failure. These past four weeks have challenged this notion, showing me that my worth is immovable- planted firmly in who I am created to be. When I am able to claim this truth, I am free to enjoy who I am, and not be consumed with what I think I “should be”. Throughout this process, the notion of being “created in the image of God” kept coming up. This was something I had always glanced over in the past, but upon further unpacking, have found it to be a statement of unthinkable weight. Being created in the image of God means that I am created in the likeness of God- that I am, at my core, good, just, and loving. It means that I carry a unique characteristic of who God is- a characteristic that no one else has ever or will ever carry. It means that when I truly accept myself for who I am, I am accepting Him who made me. With all of this said, I feel as though I have just scraped the surface of what this statement entails, and that its implications span deeper than my imagination will ever go. I look forward to further exploring my identity as an image-bearer throughout the rest of this summer, and learning the tools to help others see their own immeasurable worth in Christ.

Max Tustin • 2017 International Immersion Intern