Someone asked me recently what it has cost us in speaking up for, standing up with, and moving closer to marginalized communities, hard places, and systems broken by injustice and challenging the Church to run towards them with eyes wide open instead of away (which too often in our fearful nature and American mindsets we tend to want to do).
It’s cost us our relationship with my parents.
It’s cost my kids relationship with their grandparents.
It’s cost us holidays and relationships with relatives.
It’s cost us loss of many friendships (ministry ones, best friend ones, and more)
It’s cost us opportunity within ministry.
It’s cost us our reputation in some places.
It’s cost us supporters.
It’s cost us followers.
It’s cost us tears and heartache because things said to us are painful to hear even if they aren’t true.
It’s cost us our joy at times because this path is hard and lonely.
It’s cost us our confidence in what we thought we always knew to be true.
But I still hold to the fact that what we have been given, what we have learned, what we have gained, what we have experienced and walked through is so worth these temporary (though very real and painful) losses.
We have gained…
-Deeper relationships with other members of our family and healing with broken/distant relationships in the past.
-The freedom to go when God led us to leave everything familiar and to trust Him.
-Incredible friendships that are becoming like family because they are in the trenches too and we need each other in ways we didn’t need others before.
– The understanding of what those who face rejection and abandonment might feel like and the empathy to grieve with them.
– The friendships of those in marginalized and minority communities who say “welcome to the club, it’s been hard for us for a long time now. You keep on keeping on!”
– The opportunity and invitation to listen to and promote voices who we never would have opened our ears to before.
– The opportunity to relate to those facing poverty and to join them in their struggle and anger over broken and unjust systems.
– The understanding that ministry often is best done out from under the spotlight and usually looks like coming along side of others in everyday moments of struggle and endurance.
– The power to do things without worrying about what others might think.
– The knowledge that God is unchanging and unwavering in His love and saving power towards us. That while the human elements of the Church may let Him down, and screw things up, and miss the mark…. He still loves her and died to see her reconciled to Himself.
– An increased longing for ALL things to be made right and everything sad to become untrue!
So… dear believer. You might get called a SJW. You might get labeled a liberal. You might get accused of minimizing the gospel. You might get dubbed the one bringing division. You might not be understood. You will feel lonely and betrayed. You will pay a cost.
But speak up and stand up and move closer. Many have come before us and have paved an even rougher path and it’s cost them far greater.
We survived our first 3 hour IEP meeting the other day. Whew! I can’t say enough about the kindness and knowledge that Jack’s team has shown to us.
We were all sitting in a conference room of a school where we have poured our heart and tears into the past year, and they shared with us that this school doesn’t have what our son desperately needs. In fact no school in south St. Pete has what our son needed. A lump in my throat swelled and I knew I would have a big cry over this later. Right now, my face couldn’t lose the ear to ear smile it had on it for the sheer fact that we were listening to teachers and experts talk about Jack in a way that was understanding and holistic and they could finish the end of our sentences about him.
So the planning began. Would the change happen after Thanksgiving break or Christmas break? Christmas, because I know how hard he’s been working on those Christmas songs for the music teacher. Oh, the new school won’t hold his spot that long… okay, I guess Thanksgiving it is. Oh, so Friday is his last day here? Long sigh…. How in the world is my son going to understand that he has to leave the school, teachers and classmates he loves yet his differences can’t thrive within? I probably will have my big cry alongside of his.
We can get the rest of your kids there too? They can ride the bus if needed and they would have a monitor on the bus to help Jack if he needed it ever. It’s an incredible school with lots of programs and community involvement.
Where is it again? Really far north?
Dan and I have sat together and expressed our feelings about many scenarios, each having areas of conflict with our own passion and purpose.
I looked up the school and it’s everything I’d ever hope in a community school. diverse. title one. tons of community involvement. strong PTA and other empowering organizations. And a great ASD department.
Everything in my heart wants that for all my kiddos. But I also want that for Shaniah, Madison, Demaria, Jude, Anthony, Maria, Kamadi, Zanariya, Naomi and Aryiana and all my kids schoolmates. I want that for our kids teachers who are there because they are passionate about teaching in schools that so many have abandoned, and for good cause. But someone has to stay. And right now…. our school needs someone to stand up and say “not on my watch”. It needs someone to knock on doors, and get businesses on board, and it needs someone to go to the churches and say “can you show up with your time and money and an extra dose of Joy?”
We could say, oh, we can still advocate for our community school while our kids go 6 miles north to a lovely school that has worked hard to get to where they are. But I know myself, and I know my time and my passion will follow where my children are.
Right now…. the plan is for Jack to change schools and for the other 3 to stay where they are. The school schedules are such that the timing still can work for drop off and pick up.
We still haven’t told him. We will tomorrow evening. So please be praying for us and him. We plan on having his teacher over for dinner and hopefully that will help him see that their relationship can continue. Jack is going with us on Friday to visit the school and we are hopeful he will get excited when he meets his future fans!
Never in a thousand years would I imagine I would be the mom waking up and getting 4 kids ready to go to public school…. a Title I transformation zone public school at that. I used to think public schooling moms didn’t want to be around their kids. I used to pity families who sent their kids away to a building all day. I didn’t understand how a mom could do that. I feared what adults and kids could do to my babies. I wanted the very best learning for my kids to best prepare them for this world they are growing up in.
And I honestly, don’t know how we got here except that He gave me 6 kids with various needs all really close together and put a vision in our hearts for marginalized communities and a desire to take risks when it comes to loving our neighbors and community.
All I know is that over the course of a few weeks everything changed…. especially what our mornings look like 5 days a week.
I still wrestle with fears, and if we are potentially messing up our kids by having them in tough situations at times. I know I’d be less angsty and frustrated if I felt more in control of what happened in my kids lives during the day. I never thought that I would be investing my timeby going to school board meetings, meeting with reporters, drawing close to teachers to hear their stories, figuring out ways to get to know and empower parents.
I also never dreamed about the level of gospel conversations we’d be having with our children and the character we would be cultivating and the love we would see forming in their hearts for a community that they are fast becoming a part of. I never dreamed about the Kingdom work being done by believers in classes, the determination of trained educators who see the value in kids so many have left behind, and the relationships I’d cherish because we are in this struggle together.
In the past few years my understanding of faith and how to live faithfully has undergone a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, yet we have found that Christ is Faithful! He is in the margins! He draws near to the hurting and the oppressed! He gives joy even in the fight for justice and the one who gives it meaning! He is the one who goes before us and behind us and He is doing powerful work in the walls of Title I schools everywhere! So our prayer has become one of faithfulness…..may we always be faithful to follow Him into hard and risky places.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Great is Thy faithfulness
Believing family, church members, christian leaders, close friends….
Sometimes it feels like you are withdrawing your relationship with certain believers in your life in hopes that they will change their tune, or not talk so much about controversial issues, or you are truly concerned for their walk with the Lord due to differences you are seeing emerge on social media and in real life decision making.
Too many of us have felt the tension of being forced into what feels like a choice having to be made that we don’t want to have to make… because we don’t think we should have to.
Please don’t make us choose between continuing a relationship with you and being pro-life as you know it OR standing up for a holistic approach to reducing abortions and advocating for women’s healthcare, better mental healthcare, medicaid, housing laws, gun control and radical sacrifice through adoption, fostering and standing in the gap for single parents.
Please don’t make us choose between continuing a relationship with you and your desire for purity and commitment to a specific hermeneutic of scripture OR being honest, raw and public about issues of sexuality and gender, struggles and failures, as we wrestle through what Scripture says and means about it all. As well as insisting on protective respectful treatment of all and striving to love our LGBTQ neighbor/brother-sister well even if one clings to an orthodox view of sexuality or not.
Please don’t make us choose between continuing a relationship with you and the freedoms you celebrate and the country you take such pride in OR insisting that freedom for all means economic justice, immigration expansion, education equality, disability inclusion, government provision and sacrificial stewardship of privilege in order that those in the margins can not only live but thrive here.
Please don’t make us choose between continuing a relationship with you and your respect for authority and separation of issues of race and the gospel OR being unapologetically vocal about the pursuit of justice we long for in our cities and often see missing in our churches. Often involving questioning authority, demanding systemic reform, contending that certain lives must matter that have not, and believing those marching in the streets or kneeling on the field in protest have something to say that we as believers can ignore no longer.
Don’t make us choose, because we WILL choose the latter. Hopefully not without a fight for you, but we can’t fight the battles at hand AND you….not for long.
I heard about this and as someone who is involved in a ministry that discussions sexuality/gender issues… I thought this was worthy of some thought to see if there were any benefits to this decision by the Boy Scouts of America. Here are some of the reasons I discovered that it might just be a good move for everyone!!
1. It’s pro-girl. This allows girls to achieve prestigious recognitions that were only offered to boys (such as Eagle Scout award) as well as to pursue some of the more outdoors/rugged pursuits that the BSA are known for. Also a third of BSA adult volunteers are women and this only expands their leadership capabilities within the organization.
2. It’s pro-family. This inclusion allows families who have both boys and girls to do more things together as a family vs. having two separate scouting companies/activities to balance. This is especially helpful for minority family cultures that are more focused on all inclusive family activities.
3. It allows for whats best for your kid. The inclusion of girls allows for families to choose if they want their kids in all boys dens, all girl dens or co-ed dens. Which I think allows parents the freedom to choose what their kid would thrive best in. This would prove true for communities of friends and such who wanted to scout together.
4. It’s keeping a good thing and making it bigger and better. It makes a company bigger than their name…. Think YMCA and the good it’s doing for families today that were once only geared towards young men.
5. It provides safety for vulnerable kids. This set up provides some protection for kids struggling with sexual identity without having to do anything drastic or permanent in order to fit in or be included. 70% of kids gender struggles resolve as they grow into adulthood. So loving those families who don’t fit into the gender norm for a time is something I think is very needed.
6. There are many countries with co-educational scout movements that have been very successful. As well as national organizations like 4H and YMCA.
7. This also gives families with daughters more choice in the type of political and social leaning they want in their family experiences (Girl Scouts more progressive in their approach and message, Boy Scouts will tend to be and have been in the past more conservative in their voice and activities)
8. Girl scouts started because girls weren’t allowed in the Boy Scouts back in the early 1900’s. We are a different culture now and I think it’s a positive move for a current reality of equal even in our differences.
9. Girls are currently part of four scouting programs already: Venturing and Sea Scouting, which is oriented toward outdoor activities; Exploring, a career-oriented mentoring program; and STEM, which focuses on science and math.
10. Among Cub Scout parents, 85 percent said the curriculum is “relevant” for both boys and girls, and 68 percent said they’d want to enroll their own daughters. When parents of non-scouts were asked, without invoking the Cub Scout brand, if they’d register their kids of either gender in an identical program, 90 percent said yes.
11. The BSA believes they teach and provide the best in character and leadership training and they want it available to the most scouts possible… boys or girls. Over half of all astronauts were involved in Scouting and 16.3% of West Point cadets are Eagle Scouts. Of the current Congress, 191 members were involved in Scouting, 18 current U.S. governors participated in Scouting, and many of them are Eagle Scouts.
This week my friends and I engaged in a robust conversation on Facebook regarding THIS post. (See also, THIS post, THIS post, and THIS post and THIS post I feel also apply, even though some aren’t directly talking about OCC) These posts focus on the western mindset and at times harmful consequences of the mass distribution of Christmas shoeboxes that we fill and ship this time of year.
These posts will challenge your everyday assumptions and they will expose the reality that we unintentionally miss at times when it comes to missions and our approach to it, especially this time of year. I love what one author says about opening our minds and thoughts to new ideas from those who are on the ground and have given input… “it’s not something we should repent of but learn from!” So if you haven’t read them… dive in. Try to keep an open mind, and know that nobody is saying you’re only making this about you or that your church is wrong for collecting shoeboxes. It’s just saying… hey, there’s more to this than meets the eye and we need to talk about it and change our actions if we desire to be truly intentional, holistic and helpful to our missionaries overseas. These posts also don’t set out to discount any positive experiences one might have had with the shoeboxes.
I decided to list a few ways that one might still have just as much fun and yet have more intentionality as well as an ongoing relationship that can blossom into a deeper and more effective impact on missions. This isn’t exhaustive… but it’s five I came up with fairly quickly after listening to those who are serving in countries where these ideas might be more helpful long term as well as helping them have a Christ centered Christmas season.
The other day a friend posted a question in a support group for mom’s with a child who has Down syndrome… “What are some hurtful things people have said regarding your child with Down syndrome?” Here were some of the over 500 responses:
“He must not have a bad case of it, you must really work with him”
“She must only have a touch of it, she’s so pretty.”
“Was it a bad egg then?”
“Don’t worry; he’ll out grow it.”
“At least he will die in your life time so you won’t worry about him after you are gone.”
“How downs is he?”
“the down syndrome doesn’t really seem to be affecting him”
If you pray enough…. (Also, have faith enough, anoint with oil, have the church pray over her, baptize her, repent, read the Bible in the greek/hebrew, pray for a miracle…..) God may heal her.
“Sometimes God gives a few special people a large cross to bear in life”
“God will change your baby’s DNA if you believe!”
“Did you drink (do drugs, vaccinate, smoke, partying, ate the wrong things…) while you were pregnant?”
“It’s because you had sex…. with someone of another race, outside of marriage, while you were having your period, someone you didn’t know you were related to”
“Have you always wanted to adopt a baby with problems?”
“There are surgeries and therapies out there that can help make her look not so Down Syndromey”
“You can cure down syndrome by breastfeeding and giving him vitamins.”
So…. next time a friend receives a diagnosis or delivers/adopts a child with Down syndrome (or any syndrome for that matter) Sit with them as they process…. but be the first to say “I’m going to let you process this, and while this might not be what you expected… I’m here, and I love this baby, and I think Congratulations are in order!!!
Don’t EVER say “I’m sorry.” They will get plenty of that from others.
We want to be the ones who know now what everyone with a child with an extra 21st chromosome will eventually discover… that there is NOTHING to be sorry about!
When your eyes start to be open to the injustices facing marginalized communities…. it feels like taking an overseas mission trip that is at the same time the most amazing life-giving and heart breaking experience. And then you come back home and you can’t decide if you’re awful for kissing the ground you live on or awful for wrestling with hatred towards the comfort and ease with which you live. You just know this… you’re not the same person you were before you left.
You are broken yet you are more complete.
You are angry yet you are more joy filled.
You are resentful yet you are grateful.
You are bold about what you do know yet painfully aware of all you don’t.
You are drained yet you are energized.
You are grateful to be among family yet you no longer feel at home anywhere.
You are so glad to have your comfort yet it feels hollow.
You left a part of your heart with them yet wonder if you will ever see them again.
You went to impact their lives yet they drastically changed yours.
Usually when I’ve taken these overseas trip they happen once a year or every other year with weeks and months of processing that follows. When it’s dealing with communities of the poor, hurting, oppressed, abused, minorities, immigrants, sexual minorities, mental illnesses, and calloused hearts all this can happen within a few hours or a days time, and happen repeatedly.
I feel like I re-live this including the whole spectrum of emotions over and over on a daily basis. I long for a day where I don’t feel like I’m leaving the comforts of home just to walk along side of the marginalized. I long for a day where we don’t have to ask for those who are more wealthy than I to support the efforts of justice that everyone should be pursuing yet often times we feel alone in, because a day is coming where every need will be met by One! I long for the day when the Kingdom of God reveals to all the upside down economics of the Savior and I can rejoice when the last shall indeed be first and that they will say that the hope of the Gospel was the good news they clung to on earth because their day to day didn’t represent the good news so many of us mistakenly think it is.
I’m weary and worn….. but I’m changing and growing like never before.
It’s worth it.
They are worth it.
He is worth it.
Here is one thing that I’ve learned to challenge myself to do when it comes to listening and learning about and leaning into the realities of POC (People of Color).
When I feel like what they are saying doesn’t match my reality or my experience or even what I could even conceive of and thus feels overblown, too sensitive, too angry, wrong attitude, wrong approach, or whatever. I ask myself…
– “What will it cost me to admit that I don’t live in the same reality they do?”
Generally it costs me very little… maybe my optimistic view of the world around me, maybe my discomfort, people thinking I’m a know it all about black people or anti-white person, at most it could be my point of view that I believe to be right. But usually not much of significant cost to me personally.
BUT what COULD it possibly cost me if I don’t do those things.… friendships, being on the wrong side of justice, apathy, an inaccurate view of history and society, missed opportunities to change the world around me, being a light in the darkness, correcting lies with truth, and treating people as image bearers who are begging us to believe and see the proof that they are not treated as such. (and this is without even taking my black children into consideration)
That’s too great of a cost. That’s the true risk… NOT fully believing and supporting and taking action to change our very lives.
As Believers, we HAVE to believe #blacklivesmatter… as well as the marginalized in our country and in a way that opens our minds to the fact that they haven’t mattered, and haven’t for some time…if ever, here in America.
But do we begin? where does change in our perspective start happening?
It can start with…. the questions you ask, the things you google, the articles you take the time to read, the movies you watch, a smile and eye contact to someone passing by, a saying you don’t say anymore, or a neighborhood you stop avoiding, or a grocery store you stop slamming, or a relative you speak up to when a joke is made, the car locks you don’t reach for when someone is approaching, the name you remember and strive to pronounce correctly, the dialect you don’t dismiss, the overgeneralization you stop making, the catching yourself when you think or feel something, the misunderstanding you will face, the church you attend, the ability to say I’m sorry, the books you read to your kids, the schools your kids go to, the person you approach, the people you follow on social media, the stranger you stick up for, the friendships you cultivate, the privilege you relinquish, the humility you show, the dignity you affirm.
Let’s be white voices who become witnesses to what the black voices around us are saying. Let us change our thinking, raise our voices and open our arms. It will cost us something… but it’s far less than what it will cost us if we don’t.
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!!