Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Be the Bridge (book review)


Roseanna M. White's Review of Latasha Morrison's book, 
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

There is a racial divide in this nation—that’s beyond dispute. There are sides that fail to see each other’s point of view. Frankly, there are even those who don’t realize there is another point of view. But if we’re going to learn one thing from the past, it should perhaps be this: the Church cannot achieve unity, understanding, and Jesus Christ’s vision for us if we fail to love one another and grant each other the right to perceive, understand, and experience life in the way He made each of us to do. So then the question is clear. How do we come together?

In Be the Bridge, Latasha Morrison examines this question with love, grace, and a clear desire to help each of us not just reach out across the divide, but to be a bridge that lets others walk toward understanding. Throughout the book, she sheds light on some history that is never spoken of in White circles, but which we need to know about. She takes readers, no matter their ethnicity, through the invention of race and how our society has been stacked to give advantage to the majority White culture. She helps us to understand not only how our nation has arrived at this place, but how we—whether we’re White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or any other background—have either knowingly or unwittingly participated in this system.

But she doesn’t stop with education. Morrison then takes that crucial next step and walks us through what to do about it—not on national, government levels, but individually. She explains what we as individuals can do to acknowledge the past, heal the present, and change the future.

I think the thing that most impressed me about this book wasn’t just the loving approach, the patient explanations, or the fair-minded advice; it’s the fact that she’s put wheels on her words. There are Be the Bridge groups in every state, not started by the author, but simply organized by like-minded people like you and me. People who don’t pretend to have all the answers but who just want to listen. Who want to learn what life is like for others. Who want to love their neighbors, even when that means going out of our way—because shouldn’t it always mean that?

Be the Bridge
is already a bestseller, so many of you have probably already heard about it and read it yourself. It’s my prayer that many more do the same, and that it leads to more conversations, more open eyes, and more open hearts. It’s my prayer that more Be the Bridge groups spring up around this country, and that the Church can lead the way toward racial reconciliation by our sheer, overpowering love for each other and those around us.

Let’s not be content to stand on one side of the divide and look across to those on the other side. 

Let’s be the bridge to true unity.

~*~
Author Bio:
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. 

When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books … to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

~*~
Connect with Roseanna:
Blog: https://roseannamwhite.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoseannaMWhite/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/roseannamwhite/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roseannamwhite/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoseannaMWhite
Website: https://www.roseannamwhite.com

~*~
Blurb for Latasha Morrison's book 
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ECPA BESTSELLER • “When it comes to the intersection of race, privilege, justice, and the church, Tasha is without question my best teacher. Be the Bridge is THE tool I wish to put in every set of hands.”
—Jen Hatmaker 

Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award • A leading advocate for racial reconciliation calls Christians to move toward deeper understanding in the midst of a divisive culture.


In an era where we seem to be increasingly divided along racial lines, many are hesitant to step into the gap, fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. At times the silence, particularly within the church, seems deafening.

But change begins with an honest conversation among a group of Christians willing to give a voice to unspoken hurts, hidden fears, and mounting tensions. These ongoing dialogues have formed the foundation of a global movement called Be the Bridge—a nonprofit organization whose goal is to equip the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division.

In this perspective-shifting book, founder Latasha Morrison shows how you can participate in this incredible work and replicate it in your own community. With conviction and grace, she examines the historical complexities of racism. She expertly applies biblical principles, such as lamentation, confession, and forgiveness, to lay the framework for restoration.

Along with prayers, discussion questions, and other resources to enhance group engagement, Be the Bridge presents a compelling vision of what it means for every follower of Jesus to become a bridge builder—committed to pursuing justice and racial unity in light of the gospel.

~*~
Author Bio: 

LATASHA MORRISON is a bridge-builder, reconciler, and a compelling voice in the fight for racial justice. In 2016, she founded Be the Bridge, a non-profit organization equipping more than 1,000 sub-groups across five countries to serve as ambassadors of racial reconciliation. 


Numerous organizations have recognized her as a leading social justice advocate, including Facebook's Community Leadership Program, Forbes, and EBONY magazine. A native of North Carolina, Tasha earned degrees in human development and business leadership. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: A Letter to White Christians from a hurting heart


A Letter to White Christians
A guest post by Rev. Dr. Angelle M. Jones, DMin

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Dear White Christians,

To my sisters and brothers with whom I worship each week, I greet you. In the name of the One who has shown us through His Word, not only what is good, but also what the Lord requires of you. It is in this mighty name of Jesus, the One in whom you confess that we the people, all people, are created in the imago Dei.

I bring you greetings from your African-American brothers and sisters whose ancestors were stripped from their homeland. The slave catchers and traitors worked together devising a plan to accost free labor to build this great and free land.

To this end, some four hundred years ago the slaves who were unwillingly brought to this country, were envisioned only through the lens of the economic advancement of your forefathers. Instead of seeing my ancestral captives as fellow human beings, the slave masters were greed-filled opportunist in pursuit of financial gain. This devious plan originally designed to keep my ancestors shackled for generations to come, has been successful. Hundreds of years later, the same capitalistic structures continue to keep the descendants of slaves systemically and economically bound. In light of this historical truth, I ask you my brothers and sisters what exactly did the faith of your ancestors require for them to be considered good?

From the depths of my heart I painfully write this letter, sadly conflicted by the afflictions of my ancestors who worshipped in the hush harbors of Antebellum slave churches. In centuries past, slaves would meet in secluded buildings, or wooded areas far away from the plantation to secretly worship away from the master’s hearing or reach. Even more so, I write this letter with a heart that’s doubtful that much has changed.

Whether worshipping in hidden hush harbors or in churches under the tutelage of white slave masters in generations past, or in twenty-first century multicultural churches, Black worshippers in America have had to fight for the freedom to worship in our own way. Unfortunately, even in today’s sacred spaces, assimilation continues to be the preferred way to achieve diversity. Because a large number of so-called “multicultural” churches are led by White pastors and staff, we continue to adapt to your preferred style of preaching, prayer, or music.

With these truths in mind, I write in behalf of the thousands of Black brothers and sisters, who have supported multicultural churches, with their sweat equity, in the name of ministry. I speak directly to those pastors who after preaching the Holy Writ each Sunday, in the same manner that slave masters treated slaves, seemingly, many of you cannot find the words to say thank you.

Often ignoring the Black members who encourage you with a gospel style of worship that you say you love, or a hearty black church “Hallelujah” or “Amen” to support your preaching.

Although our different hues of brown skin glare at you from the choir stand, or the pew, it pains us when you descend from your lofty pulpit, and we are ignored. Just as the slaves had no real place except in the field and were at the beckoning of their master, in the same way Blacks in your churches are often locked out of your social circles. Rarely, are we invited to the table or to serve on your church staff. Sadly, we have learned the art of normalizing the pain of rejection just as we do in secular contexts, although it is real and has caused us to scatter. I ask you my White Christian brothers and sisters, is this all your faith requires of you today?

As I compare some of your oppressive ways to that of a slave master, I’m certain most of you, will emphatically disagree. I challenge you as Christ followers, and leaders in the church to consider what is good. Just as your Christian forefathers were complicit when my enslaved ancestors were brought to laboriously build this nation, it is with that very same mentality that some of you turn a blind eye as Black congregants build your church edifices with their giving today. The burden I bear in behalf of my Black and Brown brothers and sisters in many of your sacred spaces is both painful and traumatic. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, in the eyes of many of your African-American members, it remains true that the oppressive mindset of Christian slave masters of yesterday, continue to rule in multicultural churches today.

While entering into diverse places of worship, having been bombarded the week before with images of brutal killings of Black bodies by White police, what will it take for you to see that seated right next to you, your brothers and sisters are embodying the pain of watching those who look like them needlessly die?

Sadly, in churches all over America, during the most segregated hour of the week, White masters (pastors), preach messages defending this great country and its iconic flag, while the world watches melanin skinned bodies annihilated right before their eyes.

Once again, I ask, what does it mean for you who uphold this country as great, to act justly and to show mercy toward the oppressed?

My brothers and sisters, may this serve as a reminder of what the Lord says He requires. It is time to acknowledge the ills of America’s past justly, while embracing our present pain mercifully.

May we allow the recent events, as we are moved by the current of The Holy Spirit, and cause the Church to walk humbly with one another and with our God. May we usher in a revolution of His Kingdom, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

God bless you.

Sincerely, your sister-in-Christ,
Rev. Dr. Angelle M. Jones, DMin

~*~
Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 


Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: A Call to Repentance


Shared Responsibility and Repentance
A devotional by Stephanie Bankhead

“I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” 
– Daniel 9:4-5 (ESV)

My ancestors emigrated from Italy to the United States. I am a fourth generation American on both sides of my family. They earned a living farming in northeastern Colorado. 

My ancestors knew what it was like to be the brunt of prejudice. In the early 1900’s it was not unusual for Italians to hear mocking ethnic slurs like "wop" and "dago." To my knowledge, we never owned slaves.

Blindly, I believed that I had nothing to apologize for relating to racial tension. My relatives didn't take part in the Atlantic slave trade nor the owning of slaves. Why should I apologize? 

Recently I was reading the book of Deuteronomy. In chapter 31, Moses is telling the people that he knows how rebellious and stubborn they are. Reading that my thoughts jump to, “Hey that's not fair! It was their ancestors who did those things, not this group of people. All those complainers from the exodus are all dead, this is a brand new generation.”

That was the beginning of the collapse of my alleged innocence. Pouring through the Scriptures, it became obvious that God demands we take responsibility for national sin. There are many examples of similar situations like we read in the Bible books of Daniel and Deuteronomy.

We in America have sinned. We have not acknowledged nor admitted that we have and continue to place people in positions of status and importance. And as long as we are the ones on the winning end of the balance, we refuse to see the sin. As Christians, how can we read Paul's letter to the Galatian Church and allow this sin to continue?

God’s Word (The Holy Bible) says in Galatians 3:28 (ESV),“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

God's Word ushers in conviction and I know in my heart this is true. So what is my next right move? Where can I start?

I'm perusing books, watching movies, reading novels about and by the Black community to gain their perspective. I want to understand. And I desire the dismantling of the heinous crime of oppression.

I also apologize to my dear friend, a woman of color, for the struggles that she and her ancestors and her children have had to navigate. Admitting that I have disregarded the white privilege that epitomizes my life. Offering my time weekly to listen and gain an understanding of her life as a Black woman. My plan is to do more of this, to increase our meeting to add more people. It is my belief that as we get to know each other’s stories, our empathy and love toward one another will grow.

Now, like Daniel, my heart asks of the Lord forgiveness for our nation's sin of oppression. I include myself. We have plundered our brothers and sisters of color. We categorize people by social status and power. We are not at all living Paul's admonition in Galatians 3:28.

Imagine a world where all God's children were flourishing. No oppression. No hatred. No privilege for one people to the detriment of another. We can have hope for that world. God wants us to see with our eyes. We must look into the eyes of Black people and see the pain of their ancestors residing in their souls. 

God wants us to understand with our hearts that He loves all people. He created everyone in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) God wants us to turn, repent from our previous sin of oppression and hatred. And He will heal us. (Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40)

Let’s pray: O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. Heal our nation. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen!

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. 

Stephanie has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018 she became an ordained Teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. 

What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God.

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Introducing Stephanie Bankhead, one of the backup writers!


Introducing Stephanie Bankhead, in her words:

“Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness...” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” 
–Genesis 1:26–27 (NRSV)

We (humankind) are created in the image of God. 

What does that mean in our everyday lives and do we all consider this truthful? How do we walk this out? The Word of God has proven over the years to be absolute truth to me. It is my firm belief that every person walking on this planet God shaped in His own image. Because of that, there is a dignity endowed every person.

It is not enough to know about the oppression and atrocities waged against Black people. We all need to jump into the journey with them. We need to repent of the sins of our ancestors, the white Europeans. Let's come beside them and lament on their behalf.

A few years ago I would have told you that my ancestors were from Italy. We had nothing to do with the slave trade or mistreatment of Black people. The funny thing is, every time I read the Bible, it ends up "reading me." At the end of Deuteronomy, before Moses died, he admonishes the people for the sin they committed against God upon leaving Egypt. The specific sins he refers to are actually sins their parents committed. He was holding them accountable for the sins of their ancestors. This is not an isolated incident in Scripture. Both in Ezra and Daniel, the prophets offer a prayer of repentance for the sins of the people. Sins that they did not commit.

I'm taking their lead. While meeting weekly with my friend, Andrea, I am repenting of the sins of my European fathers. We are having the hard conversations. She is sharing from her experience as a Black woman in America. And I am sharing from mine as a White European woman. We are dreaming for a better, more fair future for her children and grandchildren.

My hope is that through my experience and recent revelation other White sisters wake up to the injustice that is going on under our noses. Relationships are key to healing. When you know a person’s story, empathy can happen. Our plan is to invite others into our small group to continue the hard conversations. Our goal is to forge relationships that bring about the love of God into this world in a bigger way.

Wouldn't it be amazing for our story to inspire others to begin small group relationships with a diverse group of people and for this Christ-like love to spread like wildfire? We have adopted the motto, "Who is your one today?" The plan is to influence and love one person each day. And to invite them into this journey of change. 

So, who is YOUR one today? It all starts with only one.

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. 

Stephanie has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018 she became an ordained teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God. 

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.