Trust is what we spend years developing in ministry only to have people question our trust. Why? 1969 was the first year of integration in the state of South Carolina and I was bused 12 miles to Ebenezer Junior High School where I experienced hate and hurt because I was different. The fear the students from the different areas of town felt turned into racial riots in our school and at the high school. I was just a kid and I did not know what to do. My dad was in Vietnam with the Air Force and my mom was depressed because my brother had died the year before. I didn’t have anyone to trust or guide me during this hard time.

I have been called to minister in very ethnically diverse communities and I have worked to build relationships in these communities for many years. And it takes years to build trust and just moments to destroy the trust that is needed to produce the fruit in which we have all been called to in making disciples. The richness of these relationships leads me to never go back in isolation of sameness but to continue on in the depth of oneness I have experienced. I deal with my foundational years of division and racism through the freedom I have found in God’s word that man is made in the image and likeness of God. This truth sets us free but we have to walk daily in this freedom that calls us to cross every line and barrier that divides to be together as one.

the right team with the right hearts for God. Each has a place in this grand plan God has established for CSM here in Avondale and Birmingham. It is not my grand plan. It is God’s grand plan, and He gives us a place to serve together. As we build this model here in Birmingham, we pray the Lord would guide us every day. We believe we are building something that lives past us and will continue to impact the city and His Kingdom. Together we serve the Lord, making Kingdom warriors in this battle to live out the Gospel in this broken world.

Tracy with Thomas Beavers, Joel Brooks, Alton Hardy, and Matt Mason

Reconciliation is the process where we trust the Christ in those that have hurt us and build a new relationship with one another.

Now, 50 years later, after working many years to reconcile some of those early relationships and after building a ministry focused on Biblical reconciliation, there is still the question of trust. Can I be trusted? Trust has to be built and that takes time and motivation from the inside out. Three years ago I went to my 40th High School reunion to discover that my peers had their own stories of those years that mirrored mine. It has been amazing to build new relationships from years where there was no trust to a relationship of trust around the Gospel. Reconciliation is the process where we trust the Christ in those that have hurt us and build a new relationship with one another.

Today, I am still working to build relationships with friends and peers where trust is not easy but is foundational to our relationship. I want to hear your story and I want to share my story and build trust around God’s word and work. At CSM, I have spent 9 years building trust in relational partnerships believing this is the only way to change a city. John 13:35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” My desire comes from God’s desire for all of us to be His disciples. The song of old sang, “Trust and Obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but the trust and obey.” If we obey the word of God we can build trust because of the Gospel.

Tracy Hipps

Executive Director