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Black History Month: Reconciliation at Barefoot

Q&A with Barefoot Republic Leader & Franklin Road Academy Assistant Athletic Director: Mr. Joshua Lester

Josh on ropes course with camper at Nashville, Tennessee day camp

1. God has provision for diversity. Where do you see that play out at Barefoot?

I see God's provision for diversity at Barefoot play out through the representation of all nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. Seeing all ethnicities receive the same opportunity and get the same invitation to be surrounded by faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and equally have the chance to join in relationship with Christ is beautiful. 2. There is beauty in diversity, but there are also real obstacles that some experience in the pursuit. What obstacles do you see Barefoot invite in and faithfully work through?

Racial Reconciliation is a big conversation (obstacle to some) that I see Barefoot inviting and welcoming in while most other organizations I see try to shy away from it. Barefoot has a game plan for it - As an Athletic Director and a coach, that's very reassuring to me.

3. What kinds of conversations do you think that Christians need to have that will lead to racial reconciliation and encouragement? Where are Barefoot's efforts regarding reconciliation conversation?

I've experienced and witnessed conversations from the leadership team directed to the summer staff encouraging them to go out and find more minority children so that they are able to have conversations about race, religion, and diversity at Barefoot camps. It's an intentional approach. 4. Do you find it difficult and/or scary to enter into the conversation about diversity and racial issues? What about at Barefoot?

Being a black man in the United States of America, conversations about racial issues and diversity will always carry a different type of weight due to the history of slavery, racism, and people that look like me historically being treated as 1/3 of a man/woman. Tough conversations are great, and they are needed for growth and to progress as a society. Barefoot is ahead of the curve in this area. The environment at Barefoot is intentionally welcoming to these types of conversations. They make it easy to talk about these issues. 5. Does racial or ethnic identity enter in your process of making important daily decisions? Do they when you are at Barefoot Camp?

Since I was a young boy, my father specifically instructed me to make every decision with my race as an integral added part of my decision-making process. It was needed in the environment I grew up and it is dangerous to be oblivious to historical facts and current issues in the world we live in. Still to this day, it's an important part of my daily decisions. Because of the environment that Barefoot creates, it makes it easier to break down that wall that is needed to survive and thrive in the USA as a black man. Barefoot uses God's word to remind us that we are not of this world and because of that, our minds are renewed. We do not have to think as the world thinks or have the same restrains mentally that the world tells you that you need to have.

6. Finally, why #GOBAREFOOT2022?

The leadership of Barefoot is as diverse as they come. Knowing what they are pushing to create at every camp - an environment that every child and family can feel safe, every child and family can have the same opportunity to for growth, and every child and family is surrounded by the body of Christ to love one another well - I'm so proud of that.

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