I’m not saying that believer should adopt. It wouldn’t be even possible…but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD than are currently, as well as holding each other accountable to the reasons they are or are not pursuing it when such a staggering but attainable need exists. And that no matter how one chooses to grow their family that tending to the cause of the Fatherless (in the womb and for decades after birth) isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should live and shop and make a life in under resourced neighborhoods (the areas of the city people don’t want to live or don’t feel safe in). But EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD take their lives and families and invest in the kingdom work that is taking place there as well as advocate for justice in areas where systemic injustice has ruled for far too long. That knowing where and speaking up against oppression in our cities isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should be for or against a certain health plan. There are many facets that are involved that impact many people… but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD be concerned about the health and care of the poor and marginalized, and be knowledgeable about how health care impacts abortion rates and those in poverty. We should be a people who know biblically our own care is directly related to the care we champion for the poor. Taking care of the sick and disabled isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should send their kids to public school. It wouldn’t be feasible…. but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD than are currently as well as holding each other accountable to the reasons they are or are not pursuing the betterment of education equality when such a sobering but fixable need exists. And no matter what education choice a believing family makes, that tending to the plight of the poor and oppressed isn’t optional.
IF you are a believer who has chosen the latter in each situation then please know that championing those who are choosing the road less traveled means they need your encouragement, your resources, your support, your advocacy, your “YES!! EXACTLY, What can we do to help?” when they report from where they are….. not a list of reasons why you don’t feel called to join them or why they shouldn’t sound so judgmental to those who aren’t doing exactly what they are doing. You praying and encouraging and cheering means more than you could possibly know!!
I wonder if intentional ignorance or convenient silence will hold much weight or feel like very legitimate reasons when good godly people are held accountable for not speaking up and taking action about policies and leadership and systems and religious practices that hurt the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed.
From my understanding of scripture those are the people we are COMMANDED to think about and care for and to be a voice of hope within. It’s not optional.
So I just wonder… will “I did what was best for my kid”, “I didn’t live near those schools, those neighborhoods, those communities.”, “I was too busy being on staff at a church”, “I thought it was just a liberal agenda”, “I was too busy leading a bible study”, “I just thought she was too biased/angry/liberal”, “I thought helping was enabling”, “I had too much on my plate”, “I was afraid of getting hurt or taken advantage of”, “those things didn’t effect me”, “I didn’t feel called to deal with those issues”…..I wonder, will those be worthy responses to “Why didn’t you say or do something when so much injustice and wrongdoings hurt and oppressed and killed people made in My Image?” “Why did you think you were better than they are?” “Why did you fear them more than you feared Me?”
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about heroes of the faith and crucial leaders in the history of evangelical denominations…. and it’s taught me a lot of incredible things, and I can’t wait to share more about it tomorrow.
BUT one thing it has taught me is that the church at large can be dead wrong or silent and apathetic on an issue regarding race and humanity and fully feel like they are doing God’s work. Looking back we say…. “How could they stand for that?” “How can they not see it’s a gospel issue?” “How did they just do what was easy for them at the cost of others lives?” without ever thinking that we probably would have not risked what those who stood against it risked. Let’s be honest, statistics show we probably wouldn’t have.
Standing on the side of systemic racism today won’t cost you hardly ANYTHING comparatively speaking to what it would have back then. If we are wrong about it existing, okay then people feel loved and seen and given the benefit of the doubt unnecessarily, we don’t get every privilege known to mankind, and gasp, maybe “democrats/liberals get their way” come what may.
But friends, if we are RIGHT and we raise our voices strong and unapologetically about racism in all it’s hidden and systemized forms…then the history books (and eternity for that matter) will show that the Church stood up and fought for a HUGE injustice against humanity!!
This is not something little…. or something only some people are called to speak up about… or something that is way better than it used to be so what’s the big deal…. THIS IS WAR on behalf of Image Bearers of the King!!
D.L. Moody – 5th grade education, manuscripts full of spelling and grammar errors. He failed the test to become a member of the church when he was 18. Never went to college, seminary or was even ordained. His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common poor people; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Charles Spurgeon – Attended local schools for a few years but never earned a university degree. Started preaching as a teenager. Preached to tens of thousands, started an orphanage and a Christian college. Strongly opposed the owning of slaves and held to a strong biblical innerency. Because of that he lost support from the Southern Baptists, sales of his sermons dropped to a few, and he received scores of threatening and insulting letters as a consequence. He enjoyed cigars. His wife was often too sick and weak to leave the house to hear him preach.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Billy Graham “World Renown Evangelist”- Took 6 years and 3 schools to complete his undergrad in anthropology and was told by Bob Jones, Sr. if he left BJU after one semester that….. “ At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere in the sticks… You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily” He didn’t listen and left anyway. He once said… “When God gets ready to shake America, he may not take the Ph.D and the D.D. God may choose a country boy… and I pray that he would!”
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
William Carey “Father of Missions” – very little education but self taught greek and Hebrew. Took his family to India where the hardships (unemployment, preaching illegally, sickness, death, depression, loneliness) cost him the life of his child and the sanity of his wife. Took 7 years to see the first person become a believer.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
David Livingstone “Africa’s greatest Missionary”- Has background in botanical and medical studies. Known for standing against slavery. Was often accused of being too fiery and had an explosive Irish temper. As far as Christian education, he self taught himself greek and Hebrew, but one christian professor described him as “worthy but remote from brilliant” and he would have been rejected by the London Mission Society had the director not given him a second chance to pass the course. Created roads and maps in rural Africa that led ways for the gospel to go to places where it couldn’t before. He lost his wife and ultimately his own life due to the conditions of their missionary journeys.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Hudson Taylor “Missionary to China” – Medical education background. Self taught Theology. He was passionate about God providing the means for missions work not relying upon solicited support. Lost his wife and children to serious illnesses. His medical supplies were destroyed by fire and was robbed of nearly everything he owned.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
George Whitfield “a founder of Methodism” – Was poor and had to work as a servant to wealthier students in order to receive an education. Got a BA. Stayed true to theological convictions and evangelism even when it meant less power and position. Early in his career, Whitefield criticized the Church of England. In response, clergy called Whitefield one of “the young quacks in divinity” who are “breaking the peace and unity” of the church. The Church of England would not assign him a pulpit, so he began preaching in parks and fields in England on his own, reaching out to people who normally did not attend church. he preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million listeners in Great Britain and the American colonies. Kept close friendships with those of vastly differing theologies.
Kept preaching despite failing health until he died.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL
Charles Finney “Father of modern revivalism” – Never attended College, was interning to be a lawyer but then stopped when he felt led to preach the gospel. Didn’t find a true theological home in any mainstream denomination due to issues with each. Preached to thousands using methods (praying in the common people’s language, using an alter call, that were decades old but not popular in the church at that time and was rebuked for doing so. Championed the Abolishment of Slavery and Women’s rights.
Amy Carmichael – uneducated, poor, single, started a Sunday school group. Wanted to pursue missions but was rejected due to a chronic health issue that kept her in bed for weeks on end… ended up going to India with another missions group that would allow her to. Was a mother to many many orphans. Wrote several books. Once said…. “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire that He creates.”
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
George Müller – “Evangelist and Missionary” Was rejected by the London Missionary Society due to his health and inability to keep up with their requirements. Renounced his regular salary, believing that the practice could lead to church members giving out of duty, not desire. He also eliminated the renting of church pews, arguing that it gave unfair prestige to the rich. cared for over 10 thousand orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. He never made requests for financial support but was grateful when they were given, nor did he go into debt and often food and supplies were provided at the last possible moment. He did this all while preaching three times a week! At the age of 70 he began a 200,00 mile (a big deal in pre-Aviation times) 17 year missionary travel trip with his new second wife, after the loss of his first wife… all through the unsolicited gifts of supporters.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
In all of these stories… the common threads that jump out to me are:
- Formal theological education (seminary or bible degree) wasn’t required to fulfill the calling God had on their life.
- Came from humble beginnings in challenging times.
- Often God used a non-theological interest or skill to further the Gospel in unreached places.
- They were often rejected by the majority church’s or christian organization’s way of going about doing things in ministry.
- In hindsight everyone of them could be said to have had certain areas where they were probably wrong or misguided in.
- Stong likeminded Friendships with others in ministry were catalytic in beginning movements and organizations.
- They had a undying commitment to the poor and marginalized.
- They often started schools and provided the basic needs for marginalized Children. (Kids who couldn’t offer them anything back in return)
- Spoke up about controversial public issues.
- They often lacked for money, a place to live, good health, and safety, yet that wasn’t a permanent deterrent to following His calling on their life.
- wouldn’t probably have the qualifications to hold positions in many churches or educational institutions today.
I think those who want to be in Ministry (Vocational, bi-vocational or non-profit work) here in America have many times been told by spiritual leaders, people in position, school professors, job resumes, or mentors that in order to GO or DO or START they need to…
-be assessed and prove faithfulness in the little things for a good amount of time
-pursue leadership but not clamor for it, show humility and submission but prove you have drive and self motivation
-spend the right number of years getting the right degree
-have a well laid out plan
-be financially stable/responsible
-have stability and success be a probable outcome in a decent amount of time
-have the right connections with the right churches
-have successful experience in whatever ministry they are passionate about
-know beyond a shadow of a doubt that’s where they have been “called”
Y’all, When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers we don’t see any of that!!! We see men and women recognizing Jesus for who He says He is, hearing His call to come follow Him and then laying all aspects of success, career, comfort and reputation aside and going and preaching the gospel…to the point of it costing them their very lives.
Church, let us not be at a loss for words when Jesus asks us why we squashed the gifts and desires of His children who wanted to do incredible things that just required great faith and obedience to a Big mighty God but we demanded so much more.
Brothers and Sisters, if you’re desiring to be a leader and to lead a deeper, more vocal, more risky, more demanding, more out of the box, more needed, more focused ministry but your church is asking you to prove yourself beyond the biblical requirements to the extent that you are putting off what you are passionate about or they aren’t fanning the flames of ministry you know are there …..then please push back on them, pursue ministry with zeal and ask them to come along side of you and let their faith and joy increase with yours, and if nothing changes, know that ultimately you don’t need the permission of your church, church planting org., ministry org, parents, paid position, “the way it’s always been done”, previous success, or anyone’s permission or approval to fulfill what Gods asked of you and put in your heart.
Run hard after His fame and the flame He’s lit in your heart…the reward is worth it!! So worth it!!
Another problem with this process/system of ministry advancement is that seminary and typical forms of ministry preparation are often reserved for those with access to them either because of means or their proximity to traditional contexts. Further, placement within ministry training programs often depends upon “intellectual ability or academic promise”. This is especially true in graduate level education where in undergraduate degree towards ministry training is necessary. Our current context in the West for training ministry leaders or preparing individuals to be missionaries in various domains, is largely not available to the poor, the marginalized, or those without access in proximity to networks that would help them. Any future understanding of how to train people for ministry must change this! Ministry advancement is a paved path for those with some level of higher intelligence, wealth, charisma, network. Let’s work to pave the path where the rocks and ditches and barricades are for those who don’t fit that certain criteria. Because it’s not biblical criteria. Not saying the steps one takes to prepare are bad… I’m saying, it shouldn’t be what’s required!!
And lest anyone think I’m anti-church or anti-seminary or anti-counsel, I’m not. As a seminary educated person myself, Lord knows I’m not. I just see a tendency in our churches here in america to hoard power and position and to not empower those who are deemed ready and qualified by scripture, but we set up hurdles in the name of caution or wisdom that were never meant to be set up. Again, im not saying Christianity can be lived apart from the church or missions should be a solo mission…. I’m saying that too many churches/organizations have a process that stifles and limits what God is doing and can do in the life of someone desiring more vocational ministry. So if that’s the case… find a place where the gospel is needed and churches are needed and begin to cultivate a body of believers who will empower and uplift and belong to them and lead them!
The other night at the dinner table one of the kids said something to the tune of “he be in my class.” in reference to another student we were talking about.
I was kind of surprised at my own quickness to correct him and the other adults around the table were just as eager to as well. “That’s not how we say that!” we echoed.
The next day I was in the school office and a student asked the vice principle “is you comin’ to lunch with me?” Again, he had 3 white women scolding him in a flat second. ” That’s the WRONG way to say that. We don’t talk like that here.” The kid hardly seemed fazed at all. But I was.
Something about those particular moments kept nagging at me. WHY? Why do my kids classmates talk the way they do? Why were black people known for communicating a certain way? Was it lack of education? Was it culture? I wanted to know more. So… you know me, yep, I started researching.
What I found out was…. what so often we think of as the “wrong way” of speaking, as uneducated talk, as a tale tale sign of a certain class…. really is part of a heritage and a blend of several cultures that have developed over time, tells a rich story and is passed down from generation to generation.
It’s called African American Vernacular English (AAVE). It is it’s own dialect. It has patterns and is rule based. It has it’s roots in French, Creole, and older Southern American English.
It’s not Ebonics as most call it, It’s not slang (though black slang exists), It’s not lousy english, and while it’s not Standard American English, it’s not “wrong”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with AAVE, but yet it is stigmatized for social and historical reasons, related to race, socioeconomic class, and prestige.
Teachers today should not spend their time correcting or marking off or shaming when their students are bringing their home dialect into their school life. But should be aware (and many incredible teachers at title one schools already are) of what AAVE is and provide them with the tools to help them switch from one dialect to another as needed…. They are doing it anyway, why not be their champion in the process!
I bet that little boy from the school office adjusts his speech to please those in majority culture around him while shifting back to the way he grew up communicating when at home. But imagine how our response of “that’s wrong” forces him to view his family? Either they are wrong and stupid and probably wouldn’t be thought of respectfully if he brought them up to his school… OR they are passing down an aspect of who they have been and who they are, even if they don’t fully realize it, because that’s what their parents did for them. What if we honored..dare I say celebrate, the latter while at the SAME TIME give them the tools to succeed in a predominantly American Standard English country?
After reading… and listening… and thinking about all this…for me…. it’s not a matter of right and wrong anymore.
It’s a matter of honoring the past, celebrating different cultures today and equipping students to engage their world in a way that teaches them confidence and deference as they navigate both majority and minority cultures around them.
I hope in the years to come, the time spent around our dinner table does just that.
“Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.
Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)
Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.
This is your assignment.”
– Courtney E. Martin
This challenging quote popped up on my Facebook feed today…. and along with several people over the past few weeks telling me that I need to cast off fear and be bold in the things I say online, I’ve decided to start blogging my heart on here again. To own what God’s been doing in my heart currently and to be honest and raw about the hurt and rejection I’ve faced in the past.
I started blogging when we were told at 28 weeks that the child growing inside of me had several birth defects that would end up taking his very life. Over the next 10 weeks of his life and the following year or so of intense grieving I found this place to be a sacred place where I could talk about my pain, my passions, my Savior and this hard life He’s asked me to follow Him into. It was a place of sitting and feeling the pain and a place of healing for me.
I was talking to a friend a while back who had had a bariatric procedure done and she said the best and hardest part about her new reality is that now she can only run to food so much before she can’t eat anymore and is forced to sit and face the pain. She said it’s been healing for her not only physically but emotionally because she has to feel all the feels. Something in me realized that I used to do that… I used to embrace the pain.
I started this blog from a place of brokenness. I used to write whatever I was feeling and experiencing in the pain of losing a child and during the emotional toll of each adoption journey, and even a few years ago the rawness of my marriage struggles and God’s goodness within that. Which is probably why those experiences are probably some of the hardest yet more healthy journeys I have been through.
But when it comes to some parts of my current reality and the discomfort of growing and stretching outside my “safe” zones, the frustration I have with some of the theology/religion/worldviews I was brought up with and embraced…and judged from for most of my life, and the rejection I and others have faced because I’ve dared to live openly about the things God has been changing in me, and the muzzling I feel about speaking openly about the wrongs done and harmful thinking just because of who have done the harming and indoctrinating are people with authority and power…. when it’s come to all THOSE things… I have stayed relatively silent. In the name of “honoring”… In the name of hoping… In the name of holding people together. But, if I’m honest it’s taking so much of my mental and physical energy from day to day.
So a part of me wonders…. is this my space where I can’t escape feeling all the feels? Is this where I can process and deal and give validity to and confront the things my heart is in turmoil over? Can this be a place to be free to be broken again?
Is this where I dare to expose my thoughts and let those who can’t handle it back away if they must and those who may relate nod their heads and find solidarity, and those who think nobody understands draw in closer and know they aren’t alone and that there is a Savior who is closer than a brother to us.
well… let’s see shall we?
After learning the kids names in my daughters classrooms the other day I didn’t think much of it except that I was going to have to work hard to remember them much less know how to spell them….except for her one white classmate named Dennis.
Then after I shared the post about jimmy kimmel poking fun at a more ethnic name I started to wonder. Why DID the black kids have such unique (to me) names?
Soooo…I got to reading!! I discovered how many of the names we just lump into the hard to remember/pronounce/spell black ethnic category are usually derived from a combination of French, African, Muslim and Biblical names! And also can be words of hope from the desires of their hearts for their children’s lives.
I read about how in the time of slavery blacks weren’t allowed to have/pick their own names. And that before the 1960’s a lot of black people actually had more Anglo-American names but around the time of the civil rights movement they started celebrating their history and origins in the way they named their children. Taking back what was once stolen from their people!
For example: The name LaKeisha is typically considered American in origin, but has elements drawn from both French and African roots. Other names—for example LaTanisha, DeShawn, JaMarcus, DeAndre, and Shaniqua—were created in the same way.
And yes, we know that all ethnicities have some who go for the rare and unique and even bizarre… #helloReincePriebus! but we know that those generally aren’t the norm. And those names no matter how strange to us, should never be used to classify a certain group because we have little knowledge about what is their norm and why.
I found when I looked at them through eyes of understanding I see so much beauty in the names of my kids classmates and the families they represent! I know I chose my kids names due to their special meanings in my heart. So why didn’t I assume that black parents had the same desires in their hearts? I can now recognize it was my ignorance that led to wrong thinking as well as missing out on the depth and beauty right there around me!
( I read a few articles but I found this one to be very interesting regarding the matter )
In the past few years some have wondered if I’m pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-democrat, anti-baptist, pro-liberalism…..
Let me see if I can help clear up a few things. Although for some, this might just muddy the water even more so.
I am pro-life. But I tend to have more in common with someone who may disagree with me on the role of the government in this matter but is actively working on fighting the injustices found at many of the root causes of why women seek abortion than with someone who claims the title pro-life but in word only. (And I hold to the idea that being pro-life should mean so much more than just being anti-abortion.)
My stance on what God desires marriage to be is between a believing man and believing woman. BUT I find that I can also share much in common with someone who disagrees with me on the biblical boundaries of marriage but who understands the complex and nuances surrounding the subject of sexual attraction and gender identity (such as they are different issues altogether, and for most it’s not a choice, and that the church has long treated LGBTQ individuals wrongly, etc…) And because I believe my stance on marriage is a believing heart issue and best lived out in the local church, you probably won’t be find me protesting against things like government rights of the LGBT community to marry and raise kids.
I’m really not affiliated with any political party (though I grew up Republican in name only, if I cared at all.) And I think you’d find many believers (and non-believers for that matter) in the same camp. I think to hold to and belong to one group of people too strongly without being aware of shifts, changes, fringes, and refocuses in them AND in yourself, can be unwise and can lead to unbiblical thinking and acting. I do care about politics now… because politics represent people. But even in that, I hope to always be beating the drum that represents a coming kingdom and what it looks like to find it and bring it here on earth.
I grew up Baptist, was educated in Baptist schools and have pretty much always attended Baptist associated churches. But, I’m finding that while I still have so much in common with Baptist core convictions, I also have so much not in common with them (and I do understand there is so much freedom even within the denomination). I think I’m now at a point where I’m okay to be a part of a church that isn’t Baptist but still holds to an Orthodox Christian beliefs,while having a more Eastern approach to “doing church” (think home Churches in Europe and the underground Church in Asia) and is intentional in reaching the marginalized in their city. (I’ll link to our current church’s manfesto in the comments).
I think the word Liberal/Conservative can be tricky and inflammatory. I think Jesus was far more liberal than many religious leaders wanted him to be and far more conservative than many would ever imagine.
I am an Evangelical who no longer feels like she fits in due to what we’ve made that word out to be. And perhaps, the same could probably be said for Progressives as well.
I hope that helps a little. It’s hard to put those things into a paragraph of explanation each when I could easily write endlessly on them all! But I thought this would be a good clarifier for some readers. Trust me when I say that I would LOVE to be able to claim a certain label wholeheartedly, labels are my safe spot and I thrive within them, but I find that the longer I embrace this upside down Kingdom of God the more I don’t fit into a lot of mainstream descriptions of various sides of issues.
But that’s okay. I’m discovering a whole new side of God that I never knew…. the wild, unsafe, unexpected and counter cultural side. And it’s ruining me in the best of ways.