Alumni Spotlight: Bleeding for brotherhood
By Chris Chancey
Georgia BYX Alumnus
The blood gushed from my hip. My shorts were around my ankles, and 32 of what would become my closest friends stood awkwardly around me, unsure how to respond.
This is how brotherhood begins.
When I showed up at an info session to hear about a Christian fraternity starting up at The University of Georgia, I had little idea of what brotherhood meant. The closest thing to brotherhood I had experienced was under the Friday night lights of South Georgia high school football stadiums…but these college guys spoke of sharpening each other, spurring each other on, and holding each other accountable. Furthermore, their hope was to prepare men at UGA to be great businessmen, husbands and fathers one day.
Being sold on the vision, I decided to join. Our first official activity as a fraternity was the weekend following the info session. We hiked Blood Mountain together, one of the first peaks on the Appalachian Trail, and were planning to camp overnight at the top and hike out the next morning.
We made our way to the summit, set up camp, built a fire and roasted hot dogs. Though all these activities are conducive to male bonding, something didn’t seem quite right. The day had been full of awkward conversations and strange humor that almost made me regret my decision to come. There was little cohesion among the group as we each slid into our sleeping bags in various tents.
The guys in my tent were just as bummed as I was and discussed the potential of quitting the frat once we hiked out the next morning. We said a simple prayer before we drifted off to the chorus of North Georgia crickets, “God bring this group together, and if you need to, use us.”
The next morning we all gathered around a mound of honey buns and pop tarts as some fresh wood was being chopped a few yards away to start another fire. That’s when it happened. I felt a stinging sensation in my lower left hip and looked down to see a blood stain soaking through my shorts.
In the process of chopping firewood, a shard of the hatchet blade broke off and managed to embed itself deeply into my hip. My first reaction was to pull my shorts off to try to figure out what was happening. Though it took a few minutes to locate, someone had packed some tweezers perfect for removing shiny metal objects from flesh.
Everyone surrounded me out of curiosity, concern and to cautiously laugh and thank God the point of impact was not a few inches to the left. As the blood slowed to a trickle a folded paper towel and some duct tape served as a bandage and we all began making our descent in hopes of getting me to a hospital as soon as possible.
As in turns out the wound needed nothing more than to be sanitized and healed up quickly, but the impact it had in uniting a ragtag group of Christian men would fester for some time!
It may sound trivial, but there was a notable energy in the room when all 33 of us gathered for our first chapter the following Monday evening. There is something about facing adversity, no matter how big or small, that tends to bring together those involved.
And so it began. Brotherhood united our fraternity, sparking a movement at UGA still ablaze with the same purpose of becoming the men God has called us to be and impacting on our campus.
Over the next four years, I experienced this type of brotherhood. It changed everything about how I pursued the Lord and how I interacted with others. The love and acceptance of my brothers gave me the opportunity to experience authentic relationships built on humility rather than pride.
This brotherhood helped us stand our ground when the discriminatory legal battles heated up. It was brotherhood that inspired sacred traditions, encouraged steady growth and allowed us to be the youngest chapter to ever get chartered by BYX up to that point.
But as I look back on my college days, I have to wonder if what we experienced at UGA was an anomaly (Shout out to Lecrae’s new album). Is it possible to encounter a similar level of unity among the staff and teams we work with now? More importantly, does it require an injury or other adverse experience to promote trust among our co-workers and team members!?
It’s hard to believe the bond our fraternity experienced could be replicated, but Ephesians 4 affirms God’s expectation for us to be unifying agents on whatever group or team He has placed us:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” -Ephesians 4:1-3
Of course, sacrificing our body for the sake of unity is not necessary, but trust is most certainly developed through adversity. Stephen Covey highlights this point throughout his book, The Speed of Trust. Covey recognizes trust as “the catalyst of enterprise and reducer of friction on all decisions. It increases profit, both financially and in personal satisfaction for all involved, but you must be ready to lead your team through conflict to grasp it.”
I do believe we can ask our Heavenly Father for help in unifying the various groups in which we are involved. Moreover, I know He longs to use us to bring out the best in those around us – even if it means catching a piece of sharp metal in the hip. After all, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!”
Chris Chancey was a member of the alpha class of the Pi Chapter of BYX at the University of Georgia. He and his wife Sarah have been married for 5 years and reside in Atlanta with their two-month-old son, Boaz. Chris works for HOPE International, a Christ-centered micro-finance organization investing in the dreams of entrepreneurs in some of the world’s hardest places. Connect with Chris on Twitter: @chrischancey.