This summer, our board of directors did the pain-staking, but life-giving exercise of refreshing our mission. The pandemic plus our country’s summer-long discussion of racial injustice cast a harsh light on the underlying injustices that impact our work. As a board, we landed on a refreshed mission statement that’s aligned with the work God is calling us to do. Every word was labored over and the impact strongly considered. Every change was purposeful.
CORRAL is a faith-motivated nonprofit that equips adolescent girls in high-risk situations through a long-term, holistic program of equine therapy and education to prepare each girl and her community with skills, resources, and opportunities so that she can gain access to a bright future.
As a board, we all were left invigorated by this new mission, but we know that we took a key word out of our mission and you might be wondering “why?” I’ve devoted this blog post to answer this question. We left out the statement “CORRAL is a Christian non-profit” and replaced it with “CORRAL is a faith motivated non-profit”. If you are a follower of Jesus, this may strike you, or even concern you. The change was not to be more “politically correct” nor to “hide our lamp”, but instead to more passionately and relentlessly pursue the calling He has given us.
We Did Not Abandon Jesus
Firstly, as a board of directors, we are all followers of Jesus. We don’t just believe that He was a good man, but that He was God. We agree that He was born to a virgin, died and raised from the dead. When we come together as a board, we pray. As individuals, we attend churches, worship God and wrestle to live according to the Jesus’ teaching. However, we did not feel that continuing to label our organization as a “Christian non-profit” as we did in our old mission statement communicated Jesus’s intentions in Matthew 11:28. Instead, to the modern-day sinners, tax collectors, vulnerable, weary, sick, possessed, mentally-illl and those in “high-risk situations”, we received feedback that this label was viewed more as a “keep out sign”. The label seemed to indicate so many things that did not represent our Jesus, or our mission. Time and time again, I was asked by girls, families, volunteers and other community members “is there room here for me?”, “will I be welcomed here”. This question broke our hearts. The word Christian was welcoming to some, but represented a “side” in our country’s current Cold Civil War for others.
As we explored further, we learned that an organization (as in a business or group) cannot “be Christian”. An organization does not have a soul to be saved. An organization cannot “take up our cross”. Instead, an organization is made up of followers who passionately live out their faith as a form of worship. Therefore, it is our faith that motivates us and it is Jesus who has called us. We believe that Jesus can redeem anything, and that He has called us (the board, staff and volunteers) to be His hands and feet. This means that He intends for us to participate in His redemption of our broken world by caring for the most vulnerable in our community by “seek(ing) justice, defend(ing) the oppressed, tak(ing) up the cause of the fatherless …” (Isaiah 1:17).
Being Impeccable With Words
What we learned is that words matter, they mattered so much to Jesus that he was slow to label himself as the Messiah and instead called himself the “Son of Man”. He even told those he healed to not disclose his miracles. He knew words and labels were polarizing to the people of Israel so He picked them carefully. This allowed him the time and space to move throughout the community, healing and spreading the gospel. The words he used welcomed the most vulnerable and allowed Him to complete his ministry.
So, in an effort to mirror this wisdom of our Jesus, we have taken down the “keep out sign” and are replacing it with words that name our motivation, our calling and our ministry. Importantly, if you are concerned that this may lead to ambiguity around faith, rest assured that our Board and Executive Director will sign a Statement of Faith to ensure fidelity to a faith in Jesus Christ as our “true north”.
Jesus was a champion for the most vulnerable: single-women, children, the under-privileged, the mentally-ill, the physically disabled, the oppressed and the poor. He fought for justice. We at CORRAL believe strongly that he has called all of us to fight for the vulnerable too. Jesus was inclusive. If a person sought him or the healing he offered, he never made them question whether or not they were welcome. We at CORRAL won’t either. Make no mistake, we are “faith-motivated” by our belief in Jesus. And, by tweaking our mission statement ever so slightly, we hope to lay out a welcome mat and take away the potential for some to see a cultural label that has become (to some) a “keep out” sign. So, when they come in, they will be able to see just who exactly is the “author and perfecter of our faith.”
Check out how our revised mission statement fits into the bigger picture in our recently published 2019-2020 Annual Report.