Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Racism, prayer, and hope


Racism Comes in All Colors
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
– Luke 10:27 (NIV)

I am a Christian, one who is no longer convinced that America is, or ever was a truly Christian nation. You can accept the lie that the continuous mass killings taking place in this country are random lone acts done by individuals with mental health problems, but as much as I love my country, I choose to no longer align with this false narrative.

The sad truth is often the foundation of these acts are based upon and perpetuated by the systemic racism this nation is built on. We are a country built on racial and ethnic hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and classism. The blood on the hands of its founders is that of the thousands who have been murdered throughout history, for nothing less than the color of their skin. Evil shown toward any group that is not of (WASP) White Anglo Saxon Protestant origin is the true story of America’s foundation since its very inception.

The unhappy truth about American history reveals this country has been a breeder of hate culture from its very beginning. I keep saying it, and will continue to repeat it: This nation that has convinced itself that it is a “nation under God” is anything but. Instead of boasting of our glory, we should be glad that God continues to extend mercy upon us as the original sin of racism continues to fester from within. We should turn to God in repentance while that grace is still being offered before we implode.

An example of this hatred reared its ugly head a few weeks ago when in metropolitan Atlanta, a 21-year-old White man murdered six women of Asian descent and two others. A few hours after the shooting, the parents of Robert Aaron Long identified him after seeing images of their son flashing across the TV as the main suspect in the killings. Atlanta authorities have yet to label this heinous act as a hate crime. Whether George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor or the four Asian women, hate kills real people. Too often I think we allow the media to remove the blood from the veins of the humanity of those who are senselessly murdered.

Although he has admitted to the crimes, the young man claims that race did not play a role in his decision to target the Asian spas where the shootings occurred. He instead blamed his sex addiction. While his interest on his Instagram page were listed as “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It's a pretty good life.” Long and his family identify as Southern Baptist Christians. In the press conference after the shooting, Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, described the young man as “pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

A bad day? In response to having a bad day, you murder people? What’s worse is the way the media and authorities often perpetuate narratives like these which continue the cycle of racial division in America.

To immediately dismiss the obvious, and quickly deflect from the fact that the majority of the victims were of Asian descent, and to turn away from calling it a hate crime is yet another slap in the face to people of color. This image of the White person gone mental is one that is being used way too often after the committal of hate crimes. I’m sure any person of color in America can relate to the feeling of sadness when situations like these are often covered over as anything but what they are, especially when committed by a White person. I propose that mental health and evil are two different things. As intertwined as they may be at times, mental health can’t be continually used as a scapegoat for evil. This portrayal of it, to cover the evil acts of Whites toward people of color is blatantly racist and exhibits explicit bias at its absolute best.

While in seminary in Atlanta I had the pleasure of taking classes with several Korean students, and getting to know a little about Korean Christian culture. This experience allowed me to humanize the Asian victims killed in the shooting. One of the most fascinating memories was studying the way this generation of Koreans express “the collective trauma” and the memories of sufferings imposed upon their people in the name of oppression over the course of Korea’s years of oppressive history. Although it has been admitted to be difficult to find the proper English words to describe, the use of the expression of Han is a way that theologians described the mourning and grieving response to the traumatic loss of collective identity. They defined Han as the complex emotions that result from the traumatic loss of divided families: families who were separated during the Korean War. As a Black historian, this concept of racial trauma sounded way too familiar.

Han can be described as a generational feeling of being wronged by someone in authority such as the government. Theory has it that the accumulated narrative of Han in Korea is because of a long history of suffering from invasion, poverty, and international indifference by the global world. I realized as I intently listened and learned, that the two minorities could empathize with one another’s suffering. During racial incidents on campus (yes Christian seminaries have racial problems), Black and Korean students often supported each other in prayer. We collectively prayed and worshipped together during these difficult times, and came along side one another in solidarity.

I later learned from a Korean friend, that the other side of Han is Jung. He eloquently defined Jung as the irrevocable relationship and bond formed through experiencing life together. As Black and Korean-American Christians suffer together, may we express a restorative lament of Han to a God who hears our collective prayers. A Han that allows us both to experience the collective healing power of Jung for our marginalized communities.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, we come to you in prayer for the African-American and Asian-American communities. As we collectively cry out to you, we ask you Lord to turn the pain and resentment of our Han into prayers of praise and thanksgiving. We call on you to extend mercy on those who come against us and others because of the color of our skin. We call on you, Lord, to heal racial division in America. We call on you Lord to receive our Han, and heal our brokenness so that we might experience the unselfish and covenantal Jung with those who are different. Bind our hearts together. Make us one, dear Lord, we pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

~*~
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.

~*~
Connect with Dr. Angelle:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelle.m.jones.5
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abundantgrace1/
Website: www.globalifetransforms.com
Email: globalifeconsultants@gmail.com

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: No Solo Carriers


No Solo Carriers
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” –Matthew 27:32 (NIV)

Watching the news one morning in March 2021 caused me to be in shock, disgust and unimaginable sadness as I saw a group of Asian men and women rallying to remind the world that they matter because recent events have left them the target of brutal attacks. The result is that they are feeling vulnerable and confused. They are questioning what they thought they knew about this free country.

Minutes later, I turned off the television and thought about my own life trials and tasks. What can I do? I am only one person, one woman in one small town, chasing around several headstrong children. Suddenly, God reminded me of the man named Simon who helped carry the cross of Jesus Christ.

Simon was just an average African man visiting while Jesus was on his way to be crucified at a spot outside Jerusalem called Golgotha.

Simon was not on any special assignment. He did not have a particular agenda and nothing else is mentioned or known of him. Up until now, he was not heard of, yet Scripture says that he was instructed to carry the cross of Jesus. Can you imagine the thoughts he could have had? Perhaps he said, “You want me to do what? I do not even know this man, that wood looks extremely heavy!”

Despite what the conversation may have sounded like or what Simon was thinking, the Bible says that he placed the cross on his back and helped Jesus carry it without complaint.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we would react to our brothers and sisters of different races and cultures the same way when they are facing hardship?

What if we help people of color carry their cross? What if we make the conscious choice to rally alongside the oppressed and marginalized as we climb together to be taken seriously, treated fairly, thought of in circles we never have dreamed about, and have our names spoken in rooms we only imagined being able to enter?

What if we accept the fact that it is not just one person’s cross to bear? If we all do our part to fight in love and carry each other’s crosses no matter how heavy they are, then we will be blessed with the opportunities to witness about the unconditional, never ending, constant love of the One (Jesus Christ) who died to set us free.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, please forgive me for the times when I am too overwhelmed by all the chaos of the world and my own struggles to think I can do anything to help. Allow me to remember that the most important thing I can do is lift up others—especially those fighting racial injustice—in prayer. You care about those who the world so quickly targets and then forgets. Thank You, God, for the strength and courage to help bear another’s cross. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders.  

She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. Amber believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

~*~
Connect with Amber:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/amberwha35/

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Introducing the writers


Introducing Amber Hoopengarner in her words:

I want to share my story because I believe God gives us all stories to help others along their journey. As a mixed-race woman, I have faced various challenges socially and within myself and my own identity.

I want to be the change I wish to see by loving people how Jesus loved the church while educating them on the differences we all share that make us beautiful and unique the way God intended. I want to raise awareness by speaking up for BIPOC women who have been silenced for so long and bring voice and light to their truths.

For too long they have had to apologize and dim their shine to feel loved worthy and valuable.

It is my goal and desire to write words that remind women of all races that God has made them fearfully and wonderfully, while pointing out that others have not always treated us as the queens that God created us and all of His Daughters (regardless of race) to be.

I will continue to work with minority and mental health groups and minority groups in all areas to eliminate stigma and bring hope to the battles that have been fought in silence for too long.

We are all made by God and need to embrace our differences culturally, historically, physically, emotionally and eliminate the one size fits all approach to the things we do in our everyday lives.

I aim to bring about cultural sensitivity and education within my small community with the love of Jesus Christ and the understanding and wisdom that the Holy Spirit brings as I seek to do his work.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders.


She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. Amber believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

~*~
Connect with Amber:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/amberwha35/

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Life Lesson on Adversity


Strength in Adversity
A devotional written by Stephanie Bankhead

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4 (ESV)


“How long does this go on, God? Will it never end?”

Does this prayer sound familiar? If you are breathing then you have probably whispered this about the pandemic. For many years during any struggle or trial, this was my prayer. I wanted God to sweep in like a knight in shining armor and remove whatever it was causing suffering or trouble. And I won’t lie, there has been a time or two during this pandemic I’ve asked God to please remove the suffering.

I recently had a conversation with a young, Hispanic woman who is my friend. I asked her what it was like growing up as a Hispanic female in our city in Texas. She shared what I had suspected—stories of racism and sexism: being judged and shamed for being a teenage mom, having two years of fast food experience and still getting hired for a new job at a lower rate than her male friend who had no experience, being called racial slurs by men in places like parking lots and grocery stores for no reason.

What surprised me was her response when I asked her if there was anything that she would change about her circumstances growing up. She confidently stated she would not change a thing because all these situations have made her who she is today. When I asked her what she would change for her own daughter, she simply replied that she would have people treat each other with kindness rather than division and hatred.

I went home that day thinking about her comment about how the adversity made her who she is today. There is wisdom in her words. When I look back on times when my relationship with and faith in God has grown, they’ve all been times of adversity. Having a prodigal child will drive you to your knees at the feet of Jesus like not much else will.

I’ve come to believe that God has a different, higher perspective of adversity. In the book of James in the Bible, He says to count it all joy. And that trials produce steadfastness that leads to us being complete. I do long to be complete. I still don’t long for adversity, but I don’t shy away from it anymore either. If that is what God uses to bring us closer to Him, then let it be.

The next time you find yourself praying the “Will this never end, God?” prayer, I want to encourage you to stop and instead ask Him what He is trying to teach you through the situation. And for the courage and strength to keep your eyes fixed on who He ultimately is helping you to become.

Let’s Pray: Lord, Your love is steadfast and sure. Thank you for loving me enough to help me walk through the adversity in my life with Your power and strength. Help me to see what You’re trying to teach me in this and to come out of the other side a person of greater faith and more fruit for Your Kingdom. I ask this in the Mighty Name of Jesus! Amen.

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

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Reading books and addressing racism in the stories and real life


How to Read Books from Different Eras
A guest post by Roseanna M. White

As a writer, I believe in the power of story. But before I was a writer, I was a reader who loved nothing more than being taken to a different time or place through the pages of a book. Books are powerful things—they have an amazing ability to create empathy in the heart of the reader, helping us to see things from new perspectives. Throughout history, books have moved culture and helped create change that we still see the effects of today.

Here’s the thing though—even books that were cutting edge for their time, that changed the world, are going to appear dated or even awful when we read them today. Why? Because the change has already happened. We’ve progressed, society as a whole has come to conclusions and taught those conclusions to the next generations. These are things that may not have happened if not for particular books…but the growth continued.

This is as it should be. But sometimes readers pick up a book written 20, 50, 80, 100+ years ago, and instead of seeing how this moved the culture, we simple gasp and are horrified. Sometimes people cry out against these books. Or sometimes they do the opposite—they say that because this book was world-changing, nothing within it could possibly be objectionable.

But how should we be reading these titles?

I believe this is a question worth asking. But more, we also have to judge not only the words on the page, but the intention of the writer. Mark Twain, for example, is famous for writing satirical passages that show the reader one thing, and then state another through the eyes of the main character, in such a way that the reader has little choice but to recognize the racism so common to a time period. I’m thinking specifically of the end of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where Huck recognizes within Jim something far more than what he was taught a Black man should have. He doesn’t know how to reconcile his experience with what had been hammered into his head—but his struggle to do that invites the reader to examine his or her own biases and question what we’ve been taught. On the other hand, there are books like those written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a similar time period, in England rather than America, where the narrator simply assumes that people with darker complexions must have darker hearts—an assumption never challenged within the pages. Ugliness equates with evil in these literary pages too.

Readers today obviously know this isn’t so—but we also choose not to toss out the entirety of Conan Doyle’s works, because we recognize good things within them too. This, my friends, is the beauty of the human mind and the beauty of literature. We can evaluate. We can argue. We can defend. We don’t need to censor—because we can think for ourselves and decide what is right and what is wrong. I’d argue that, in fact, we should and must do this with every book.

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before. I believe it’s critical to understand what that means, what they believed, where they were right, and where they were wrong. This is how we grow, and how our understanding grows with us.

But there are exceptions, and those exceptions are for when the reader does not have the ability to discern and judge for themselves. I’m speaking especially of children and children’s literature. I homeschool my kids, and we read primarily classics that have won Newbury Awards throughout the years. Stellar literature, to be sure—but even in these pages one can see evidence of prejudice, stereotyping, and racism. A fine example is Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. 

It’s a wonderful book, and it’s a book in which the title character actually goes out of her way and risks her life to protect the American Indians in her area. She’s battling the assumptions of her entire family and settlement in that moment—this is worth reading about. Even so, the author chooses phrases that we today would never choose. She makes assumptions about the nature of the indigenous people that we shake our head over. Should we still read this? Yes…if. If we also engage our kids in conversations about it. If we talk about the beliefs of the time and how we’ve grown. If we show how loving, fair-minded Caddie still had room for growth, and how we do today too.

Then there are books aimed at kids too young to even participate in a conversation like that—picture books. Picture books are, in my opinion, a category all their own when it comes to what care we should take. Because these are the books that shape our worldview and show our kids visually what is normal, what is acceptable, what is fun, what is serious. The images in those pages are going to help form their minds, one way or another. And those minds aren’t capable of reason yet. You can’t show your kids racist images on the page and then just say, “But…” and explain it away.

A great example of this is with Dr. Seuss’s books—a major hot topic conversation as of the writing of this. Dr. Seuss was a pretty amazing man. He was writing political cartoons that called for racial equality even before WW2, at a time when it was far from fashionable or accepted to do so. Even so, he gave in to fear when Pearl Harbor was bombed and drew cartoons impugning Japanese Americans…which he came to regret. After the war, he traveled to Japan, made friends, and wrote Horton Hears a Who as a result of his journey. His ideas, like all of our ideas, grew and changed over the course of his life. He came to new understandings as the years went by. And he is quoted by his relatives as deeply regretting the work he did that was racist in his earlier days. So it’s not surprising that the foundation that runs his estate conducted a study in 2019 to evaluate each of his books. They came to the conclusion that six of his sixty works contained offensive imagery or language. So after much consideration, they announced in March 2021 that they were pulling those six books from publication.

The media on both sides went crazy. You probably saw some of the fallout. Each side began looking for a villain to blame. Some people wanted to censor all Seuss. Other people wanted to go buy every Seuss book they could get their hands on and accused the left of “banning” Seuss when it was really his estate that made the call. But it seems to me both sides were missing the point—that the estate recognized, as Seuss did himself, that each work, each image matters. They made a decision to keep in print only those titles that wouldn’t risk teaching young children that one person is worth any less than another—a lesson many of Seuss’s stories teach so beautifully. They did what we all do when we’re reading for ourselves, and what we as parents or grandparents must do when reading to our kids: they asked questions, they evaluated, they used their discernment, and they made a judgment call.

Too often we get so entrenched in our ideas that we either throw out the good with the bad, or refuse to entertain the notion that there could be any bad in what we’ve called good. But nothing in life or in literature is so simple. And so, I invite you to read widely…but also to read deeply. 

Read with a willingness to learn but also to question. Read knowing that your perspective comes from standing on the shoulders of those who came before, those who wrote before…and know that your journey isn’t over, and neither is literature’s.

Keep reading. Keep talking about what you read. And keep encouraging others to evaluate the words and pictures in the pages thoughtfully. Let’s not just read and judge—let’s engage.

~*~
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

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: When God interrupts the world, church, and life as we know it


Divine Interruption

A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
–Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)

I can hardly believe it’s been almost one year since my plans to celebrate my birthday in Dubai were cancelled. After working with a travel agent to plan a replacement trip to Italy instead, it was also abruptly interrupted.

In February 2020, the news hit that there was a deadly virus moving rapidly throughout Asia, then Europe and had now landed in the United States. By the time of my birthday at the end of March 2020, all fifty states had reported cases of the virus that has now become a household name. Unlike any other virus in my lifetime, COVID-19 has ravaged the United States with over 500,000 deaths by the end of February 2021.

This deadly virus has left the entire world reeling! Quickly rising to the elevated status of a full-blown pandemic, I watched as the world we had all known slowly but surely disintegrate right before our eyes.

In the beginning I was intrigued, not so much with the disease, but with following the way the virus was transforming life as we had known it. It hit me personally as a group of female friends from different seasons in my life were all but packed and ready to go to take in the beauty of Rome and all her history, food, love and architectural majesty.

Although I had traveled the world for years as an itinerant minister, I had come to understand that those were actually work trips. Even though preaching and giving away humanitarian aid were rewarding and gained me a heart for serving others, it was now time for me to spend the later years of my life traveling for pleasure. Italy was going to be the first of only a few places left to mark off my bucket list. My dream trip was interrupted when Italy became one of the first countries in the world where the virus moved rapidly, ending thousands of lives. As with most of us, I thought, “This can’t last too long.”

However, the pandemic continued to claim more lives around the world and since meeting in person to celebrate my birthday was too risky, I made different plans. Last March, I was one of the first in my tribe to host a group of family and friends to celebrate my birthday via the now famous world of Zoom. To my dismay, in a few weeks I may be celebrating the same way again.

As we enter into the one-year mark of this global pandemic, no matter how the United States has been looked upon as the role model in almost every aspect of life for other countries, this Divine Interruption has shone the light on the darkness of America. What became clear was a healthcare inequity. Whether you were affected by the virus or not, it was sobering to watch as this strange new mask-covered world quickly became the norm. Exposing racial disparities ranging from healthcare to politics, the world has paused to give us time to admit the sins of our nation.

The pandemonium of this pandemic has everyone asking, “When will it end?”

In the year that has changed the world, everything has shifted. The globe has experienced record-breaking highs of anxiety caused by an unknown virus bringing with it the uncertainty of its long-term effects. But more importantly, this pandemic has revealed the need for the world to heal. Who would have thought that in our lifetime God would step aside and say to the cosmos, “Heal thyself,” causing even the Church to push pause?

Were we listening in 2020 when the still, small voice of God silently screamed as though there were little fires all over the world, “Get out of the buildings!” As we entered deeper into this state of uncertainty, I began to ponder: Could this be the time spoken of in the Word of God that says, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22 KJV)

I’m not so sure of the dispensational theology framing the verse, but I do know that something Divine has happened to gain the world’s attention.

The voice went on to say in more of a hush, “I live outside the walls of your normal spaces of worship. Seek and you shall find me. Find me in sacred spaces where you can learn authentic worship in Spirit and Truth. Find me in the spaces where the needy can just be. While the playing field has been leveled and the curve has been flattened, no matter what our status, the stillness of God has breathed a holy hush upon the creation. The stillness calls us to be defenders. To uphold. To rescue. To deliver. This is your time to be the change you have been seeking. The stage is set to find your voice to stand in the gap for the oppressed in this season of fear and trepidation.”

The quiet Voice is whispering to us all, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4 NIV)

Listen.

Can you hear the voice of the voiceless, the weak, the little ones without a father to guide them through the wilderness of social isolation, and technological stimulation?

Listen.

Can you hear the cry of the poor and the oppressed who were seated on the pews looking for a place of solitude for their wearied souls to be healed?

In the Divine Interruption, will the prophetic and social witness of the Church be heard?

~*~
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.

~*~
Connect with Dr. Angelle:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelle.m.jones.5
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abundantgrace1/
Website: www.globalifetransforms.com
Email: globalifeconsultants@gmail.com

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Don't be defensive


Challenging Defensive Thoughts
A guest post by Kristen Rimer Terrette

Defensiveness. The desire to challenge or avoid criticism.

When was the last time you felt this way? Maybe when you went on the defense because you perceived a threat to your integrity about a situation?

If you’re on social media, it’s likely you can say this recently happened to you. It seems confrontation and combativeness are a part of daily life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Even if you weren’t the one who “came out swinging,” you might have felt the need to stand up for yourself or others by merely reading the comments on a feed.

The physical and emotional feelings that come with defensiveness usually aren’t good. I loathe conflict of any kind and will avoid it all costs, but every once in a while, my hackles go up. I’m like a lion in sheep’s clothing. Wanting to remain a sheep most of the time, but when needed the lioness inside can and will make an appearance.

A while back, the lioness appeared as I had a defensive reaction to a situation.

I received a comment from a reader on one of my articles about (in short) God loving and showing off His creativity through our skin colors. The reader asked me, “How would you feel about your daughter dating a person of color?”

Quickly, many defensive thoughts and assumptions ran through my mind. I assumed the person saw my author picture—therefore recognizing I was a white woman—then proceeded to pose this baited question in an effort to trip me up, to expose me as a hypocrite.

Irritation and something very close to anger ran through me. I almost started typing a quick and snarky response. Something to defend myself, like “My daughter has dated men of color already. And we loved each of them.” Those words would’ve had an underlining current, saying, “Ha! You didn’t trip me up!”

But the Holy Spirit pulled me back from typing anything right away and thank goodness for that! 

Because the more I thought about it, the more God birthed in me an even bigger desire for racial unity and reconciliation, as I realized this person did not trust me.

Now, I recognize my initial thoughts were based on assumptions, but it’s like God wanted me to see, through this situation and my reaction, that trust is not a given. If someone or group has been wronged, trust is not handed over freely, no matter your skin color.

This realization changed my viewpoint, and when I did construct a response, I tried to put one small drop of trustworthiness back into an empty bucket for us (White people) as a whole. I hope I achieved this, because it’s so important as we work to undo past hurts.

Trust is foundational for all relationships. When trust is broken, even if you feel like you didn’t specifically cause this break, the relationship is strained. As a White woman, I want to do my part in planting seeds of trustworthiness as I interact with all people.

Next time your own hackles go up, stop and breathe. Process and pray then ask yourself these questions: Where is the root of my defensiveness coming from? What am I not seeing on the “other side of the story”?

Use these answers to challenge yourself, pushing down anger and drawing out love instead.

Let’s make an effort to reestablish trust between each other by listening, learning, and helping one another move toward racial reconciliation.

~*~
Author Bio:

Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus. 


She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.

~*~
Connect with Kristen:
Website - www.kristenterrette.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorkristenterrette/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/KTerrette
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kterrette/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252020.Kristen_Terrette
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kristen-terrette
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/kterrette2/

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: The Looking Glass


Into the Looking Glass
A guest post by Stephanie Bankhead

For the most of my 56 years on this earth, I looked in the mirror and saw “not enough” staring back at me. If you had asked, I would have not said that I had a self-esteem issue. Confidence in myself wasn’t the problem. There were plenty of opportunities in life to have success and I have had my fair share. But 2020 was a year of vision for me. Clarity.

It started with the revelation that my faith in God wasn’t the strong foundation that I had believed. How had the assumption crept in that faith equaled a checklist of items that included time spent in the Bible and discipling others? Faith equated to service, to works…performance. I was an ordained pastor, after all. I had to have faith or why would I be doing what I was doing? Enter early 2020 that was filled with the pandemic, racial tensions and fear. Intense fear and anxiety over the unknown and the unfair. Why was I feeling so anxious? Where was my faith? I chided myself over and over daily. I’m sure you can guess how well that worked out.

Transformative changes do not happen through coercion or chastisement.

And so begins my transformation over the year of 2020. I discovered that seeing myself as “not enough” had consequences. If my remorseful failings disappointed me, there was no imagining how God felt about me. Imagine a lightbulb appearing over my head when the realization hit me. Because of always feeling like a failure, my view of God was as a harsh taskmaster or a disappointed boss. Either way, that is an unfair view and not at all accurate. I was gazing at myself and perceiving not enough, disappointment, failure…and merely glancing at God. With a fresh determination, I put on blinders to gaze with length and adoration at my God.

I treasure time in the Bible, seeking for God in every reading. Kristi McLelland, author of the Bible study titled, Jesus and Women, revealed an interesting fact that relates to my story. Are you familiar with the story that we in the western church call “The Prodigal Son?” In the Jewish Messianic Bible, that story title is “The Running Father.” When I am gazing at myself and merely glancing at God, my focus is on the son. When I am gazing at my amazing Father, my focus is on the running, merciful father in the story.

This new perspective also made me realize my inability to receive love or kindness from my husband. I was forever shrugging off his kind words as obligatory. I now know that they were also filtered through my self-perception. My deepest heart’s desire is to feel love and to know God in a way that is truer and deeper than anything I’ve experienced so far. What was holding me back? My own perception of myself.

Once this truth revealed itself and there was a knowing inside of me, I felt different somehow. The verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17 was more authentic than it had ever been. It reads, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

In the past, this verse had been for those who receive Christ as their Savior for the first time. That makes me laugh. Because God is not like that. And for as long as I’ve been studying His Word (the Holy Bible), you would think I would already have known that. This is why we know the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). God sneaks in with a verse we see as familiar and transforms us in a stunning manner.

Today I’m a new creation. Free. Free to be me! Free to be loved. This new perception of myself has ushered in a playfulness. It fosters a positive atmosphere in our home. The greatest fruit is how it lightens the heaviness that was prevalent in this past year. It’s been one difficult year and any little change helps. This change for me is momentous.

Let me ask you this question: Are you walking around saying you are a follower of Jesus Christ but you see God as a harsh taskmaster or a boss who is never satisfied? I now understand that until each of us can see God for who He really is — His characteristics that we read and learn about in Scripture — we won’t have the fundamental ability to truly love others. How will we overcome racial tensions in this country and world? How will we overcome the oppression of women in this world? How will overcome the division and hatred that seems to be pervasive?

The answer is simple: Change our gaze. Stop gazing at the monumental problems and start gazing at our amazing God. Gazing at His beauty. Gazing at His characteristics. Discovering who He assuredly is in character, personality, and action.

Let us remember this Bible verse: Psalm 27:4 (ESV) says, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

Next time you look in the mirror, see the beloved of God, fashioned in His image. And then let’s turn to our neighbors and love them. Let’s see our neighbors and ourselves as image bearers of the creative God who gives us life and breath.

In closing, will you pray with me?

Almighty God, we praise and worship You as our Creator. Thank you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in Your image. It is our heart’s desire to know You more. Help us to see ourselves and our neighbors through Your eyes. And help us to keep our eyes set firmly on You, gazing on your majesty and glory! I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus, our Savior. 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.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Roseanna's Review of "How to Fight Racism" (book by Jemar Tisby)


Review by Roseanna M. White of Jemar Tisby’s book, 
How to Fight Racism: 
Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice

I can honestly say that reading The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby had a profound impact on how I understand the history of racism within the American church. 

So when I saw that Mr. Tisby had a new book out, I was quick to order it—especially when I saw that this one was meant to be a practical guide to overcoming racism in one’s personal life as well as where it appears systemically.

Tisby approaches the question with what he has termed “the ARC of racial justice.” The book is broken down into three main categories to correspond with that ARC: Awareness, Relationships, Commitment

In the Awareness section, he leads the reader into methods of understand one’s own racial story—not only in terms of what one’s own race is, but in how one has interacted with the very concept of race from childhood on up. Those who are Black or people of color most likely have a very different story than those of the white majority, but everyone has lived with race. Becoming aware of how we were each taught—through others or through experience—to view race, how it has become part of our current understanding, is a crucial first step. Once we become self-aware, then we can take steps to move toward true equity and understanding.

While Tisby is careful to point out that relationships alone cannot solve racism—that it is bigger than individuals and must be addressed on a system-wide level—he knows that for most of us, true racial reconciliation begins with Relationships. It’s as we become friends with and come to care about individuals from other races that we can truly come to see what others suffer. With that empathy comes understanding and the desire to see change for their sake.

But from that first desire, we then must move to Commitment. We must take active steps on social levels to support or instigate change—in our churches, in our communities, in our businesses, and in our government.

Of the two books, I still prefer The Color of Compromise solely because it focused on history and the stories of people who lived it, and this is always how I’m best engaged.

How to Fight Racism was a more clinical, academic approach to the question of racism, which is no doubt preferred by others. The advice he gives is well rounded, and I was pleased to see that he addresses people in many different circumstances.

Coming from a rural community with a very un-diverse population, I’m often left feeling like all the opportunities and advice offered in books doesn’t apply to me, since those opportunities simply don’t exist where I live. Tisby actually addresses how people who live in areas like mine can still engage meaningfully with the question, which I really appreciate.

By the end of the book, I was left with a list of possible actions I, my church, and my community could take…and also with the heavy certainty that fighting racism could easily become an all-consuming task. Something so big, so engrained in our culture, can’t be undone by wishing or making a few friends. It must be dismantled with the same care with which it was built. That’s an intimidating task…but also one that so clearly needs to be tackled, especially by people of faith who should be seeking the good of their neighbor, loving their neighbor above all.

How to Fight Racism invites the reader to be well versed in why this is a fight we all must take on…and then equips us to determine how best to do it wherever we are.

~*~
Reviewer’s 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 How to Fight Racism:


Racism is pervasive in today's world, and many are complicit in the failure to confront its evils. Jemar Tisby, author of the award-winning The Color of Compromise, believes we need to move beyond mere discussions about racism and begin equipping people with the practical tools to fight against it.

How to Fight Racism is a handbook for pursuing racial justice with hands-on suggestions bolstered by real-world examples of change. Tisby offers an array of actionable items to confront racism in our relationships and in everyday life through a simple framework
 — the A.R.C. of Racial Justice — that helps readers consistently interrogate their own actions and maintain a consistent posture of anti-racist action. This book is for anyone who believes it is time to stop compromising with racism and courageously confront it.

Tisby roots the ultimate solution to racism in the Christian faith as we embrace the implications of what Jesus taught his followers. Beginning in the church, he provides an opportunity to be part of the solution and suggests that the application of these principles can offer us hope that will transform our nation and the world. 

Tisby encourages us to reject passivity and become active participants in the struggle for human dignity across racial and ethnic lines. Readers of the book will come away with a clear model for how to think about race in productive ways and a compelling call to dismantle a social hierarchy long stratified by skin color.

~*~
Buy How to Fight Racism on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

~*~
Author Bio:

Jemar Tisby is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Compromise, president and co-founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, and co-host of the podcast, Pass The Mic.


He grew up just north of Chicago and attended the University of Notre Dame. He went on to join Teach For America and was assigned to the Mississippi Delta Corps where he taught sixth grade at a public charter school and later went on to be the principal. 

He received his MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary and is presently working toward his PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.

Jemar and his family call the Deep South home and especially love the weather, people, and food! His new book, How to Fight Racism releases in January of 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

~*~
Connect with Jemar:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JemarTisby1
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jemartisby/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JemarTisby
Website: https://jemartisby.com

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Black Love Matters


Black Love Matters
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Luke 10:27 (NIV)

I’m currently reading President Barack Obama’s newest book, A Promised Land.

This idiomatic motif invites the open heart and mind of the reader to enter into a previously forbidden part of his life. President Obama uses this intimate and personal memoir to invite anyone interested to go on a journey with him into the White House Situation Room, and the presidential Oval Office.

The reader is also allowed to enter into the complex space inside the mind of a younger, rising, yet improbable presidential candidate. Of course, the reader is catapulted into one of the most compelling Black life expeditions ever experienced. In his most humble yet understandably confident way, Obama chronicles his journey. We hear the conflict, yet deep conviction, while searching for his authentic voice in the echoing chambers of the whitewashed world of Harvard Law School. From the ivory towered halls of Harvard to the sound of his paving the streets of Chicago (Illinois), serving as a grassroots community organizer, Obama as the author transports the reader from the written page to urban America where he gained momentum, to earning the right to become a well-respected political pundit.

In this lengthy, yet tell-all narrative, we learn some of the highs and lows from the first Black man to serve in the highest office of the United States. This true story is told by the voice of the one who rose from living in a small apartment dwelling in a predominately Black community in Chicago, to becoming the first Black inhabitant of the White House that Black slaves built. In the memoir, we get a glimpse of the man who will go down in history, not only as 44th President of the United States, but as the one the world watched emerge as the first of African descent to rise to that position of world-renowned power.

Not only from reading the book, but since becoming a public figure, one of the things that always stood out to me is Obama’s undying love for his wife Michelle. For those blinded by the political division or racial dissonance, or perhaps even a loathing disdain for the first Black President, you may have missed what remains clearly evident to the majority of the Black community. I’m sure I speak for many, more than the type of political leader one becomes, for the average card-carrying Black person, Black love reigns. Contrary to what is portrayed, no matter how many of the fifty percent of American marriages dissolved in Divorce Court include us, Black love matters.

Since slavery, marriages between African slaves and African-Americans today, have been depicted by Whites adversely. Possibly because marriage between slaves were not recognized as legal, slave masters didn’t regard the growing intimacy between slave men and women as love. Because White people did not consider those with black and brown skin to be considered human, the idea of property joining together in holy matrimony was probably as realistic to their slave masters as imagining their animals marrying. Subsequently, the idea of whether two melanin-dipped animals could experience true love was highly unfeasible.

Between slaves not being recognized as human and not being allowed to marry, what was missed through the blurred lens of slave masters was the inexplicable existence of an incomparable and enduring Black love. Fortunately, today, many real-life slave narratives are being discovered, some reflecting factual accounts of this resilient Black love. Stories of love able to withstand separation from their mate when one slave partner was ripped from their family to be sold to another master located hundreds of miles away. The deep and abiding love between two slaves, which may have been put on hold when unwillingly sold and separated, love which never ceased until they found one another. A love that allowed them to create their own version of a post-slavery, Happily Ever After. 

The narrative often cited as the number one reason for problems in the African-American community, is fatherlessness. For years now, White sociologists have studied, researched and deemed the lack of fathers in the home as the major cause for the so-called demise of the Black family. Fatherlessness has been blamed for everything from poverty to teen pregnancy. Since the Jim Crow era, reports and studies like the 1965 Moynihan Report, are used to prove the disconnected Black family is supposedly due to socially irresponsible Black people choosing to live together over marrying.

For years, sociologists have found ways to relieve White America of the guilt and responsibility for damaging the lives of generations of Black families. Psychologists would rather deny that perhaps the percentage of fatherlessness, and not marrying might be the residual traumatization of the thousands of Black people captured, stolen and brought unwillingly across the world in the belly of a ship, stacked like the animals it was made for. Truth is, surviving as enslaved people who were stripped of their culture and family identity reveal that Black love is probably one of the most resilient expressions of God’s love ever shown. Contrary to White sociological thought, Black love is authentic, giving, selfless, enduring and most importantly forgiving.

Think about it: If you are White and have one Black associate or friend, you are a recipient of that forgiving, Black love. Only a people who love God with all their heart, soul and mind can in return, extend that love to that neighbor who may also be their oppressor.

In a society that continues to demonize Black lives, when bombarded with media images causing you to question whether those Black lives are worthy of love, replace them with one of President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama and capture the essence of Black love.

Hopefully this image will serve as a reminder that Black Love is worthy, and yes, it does matter.

~*~
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.

~*~
Connect with Dr. Angelle:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelle.m.jones.5
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abundantgrace1/
Website: www.globalifetransforms.com
Email: globalifeconsultants@gmail.com

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Challenge for you


A Challenge to Learn and Grow Together
A guest post by Kristen Rimer Terrette

Revelation 5 is about praising the Lion, the Lamb, and the Root of David for His victory over sin and death, and His forever reign over all creation.

But this verse. This is one of my favorites. In Revelation 5:9 (NIRV), this is written about Jesus:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and break open its seals.

You are worthy because you were put to death.

With your blood you bought people for God.

They come from every tribe, language, people and nation.”

It paints the perfect picture of Heaven. I love how God’s Word is careful to cover all the bases by mentioning every tribe, language, people and nation. No matter where on earth we reside, or what people group we and our family claim as our heritage, we are combined as ONE in Heaven.

And if our commission is to build God’s Kingdom on earth, so that we look a little more like Jesus on earth every day, then our every day lifestyle must include people from all different backgrounds and cultures.

I’ve been challenged in how I can accomplish this.

Years ago, I was convicted that my everyday life was very neutral, or in my case, vanilla. I’ve mentioned this before, but while I was a children’s ministry director, I realized the kids under my care weren’t as diverse as they should or could have been. I don’t know why I noticed and was bothered by this particularly, but Jesus sure was pointing it out. From then on, I’ve intentionally been open to all types of relationships with people who don’t look like me. Some of these relationships have happened naturally. Some have been more strategic, and I’m still working on this constantly.

I found one of the easiest ways to include people of different tribes, language, nation, and tongue in my life was through social media. It’s that simple! I don’t have to agree politically or even spiritually to see, hear, read, and be opened to the thoughts and ideas of others not like me. The thing is, I have developed relationships and friendships with lots of different people. My compassion level for others, and how I strive to love others well, has amplified. My spirit has joined with the Holy Spirit convicting me and actively engaging me in conversations about race, unity, justice, and Jesus. Anything that does this is worth a try! 

Allow me to share some social media accounts that I follow and love. They give me insight, accountability, and even get me thinking outside my comfort zone. They are from people or organizations representing differing ethnicities—Black, Native, Hispanic, and Asian.

Here’s my challenge for you: Go follow some or all of these social media accounts that I will list below. Commit to a month of watching and reading their posts. This is not the time to input your ideas and try to change someone. This is your time to observe. See what happens! See what God can do in your heart, mind, and spirit. See how He opens your eyes and grows compassion and understanding in your heart.

Anything with the potential to make us better followers of Jesus Christ is worth it.

Read on for the list of some of my favorite Instagram handles. They have challenged my thinking, grown me closer to the heart of God, and given me vision to what Heaven will look like when we are saved in His Kingdom. Most of these people or organizations are also on Facebook and Twitter:

@benjaminswatson

@_kirstenwatson_

@quannyboo

@pastoremase

@morganharpernichols

@tonijcollier

@samcollier

@rondell_trevino

@andcampaign

@changingwomaninitiative

@simijohn

@iammiketodd

@_illuminatives

@emmanuelacho

@ohhappydani

@nicolewalters

@josephprince

@maverickcitymusic

@ruthchousimons

Who do you follow? Comment below with the links to your favorite people so we can learn and grow together!

~*~
Author Bio:

Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.

She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.

~*~
Connect with Kristen:
Website - www.kristenterrette.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorkristenterrette/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/KTerrette
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kterrette/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252020.Kristen_Terrette
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kristen-terrette
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/kterrette2/

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Why Racism is Wrong


Racism Against People of Color
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

Since George Floyd’s death, I’ve been educating myself about racism and White privilege. Most of the books, magazines, and online articles have focused on Black voices, but as I have friends and family members who are married to Latinxs, I’ve begun to investigate the issues that this and other underrepresented groups face. My findings have been eye-opening. As people of God, we cannot close our eyes to the mistreatment of God-created human beings.

Let’s talk about the Latinx group. I did not know this, but Latinx is the biggest minority group in the United States—not by much, with Blacks coming in close behind. I also learned that Latinx are the second most discriminated ethnic group after Blacks. Like Black people, the darkness or lightness of their skin contributes to the level of discrimination.

From a survey done by pewresearch.org, four in ten Latinx say they have recently experienced one of the following incidents—called offensive names, told to go back to their home country, disparaged for speaking Spanish, and given harsh treatment because of their ethnicity.

Let’s not forget the issues with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Centers—families separated, poor living conditions, poor medical treatment, etc. There is a history of abuse and neglect dating back to the early 1900s. Allegations of rape and unauthorized sterilizations abound. Even for those Latinx born in the U.S., many of them live in fear for family members and friends.

Now let’s turn our attention on Indigenous Americans. We all have heard about how colonization of North America forced Indigenous Americans from their homes and their sacred lands, many slaughtered in the process. They were told untruths, endured broken treaties, and forced into segregation on reservations. Today, Indigenous Americans face discrimination across a variety of areas such as medical treatment, interaction with police, educational processes, microaggressions, and racial slurs.

Statistics show that Indigenous Americans who live in a heavily populated Native area are more likely to experience institutional discrimination than those in a less populated Native area. In regard to housing, a few years ago in North Dakota, a law was passed that made having a photo ID with a street address a requirement to vote. This targeted the Indigenous Americans, many of whom used P.O. Boxes. Voter repression is still happening, just as it is for the Black community, where the war on drugs and mass incarceration makes voting impossible.

Now let’s look at Asian Americans. Some of you may have seen on the news this year instances where some have been told to “go home”, all because COVID-19 was first reported in China. The virus has been called the “China Flu” by some, which in and of itself is racist. But this is not a new thing, according to history.

Discrimination against Asians goes back a long way. Back around the 1850s, Chinese workers began to come over to U.S., fleeing from wars and economic hardship. At first they were welcomed, but soon were seen as competition from lower-class whites. In 1870, The Naturalization Act gave naturalization rights to those of African descent, but not those of Asian descent.

In the 1960s, during the anti-black discrimination uprising, Asian-Americans became the poster child for the new term “model-minority”, stating they were better at abiding by the law and being hard workers. While this may have looked good on the outside, it constituted the idea that Asian Americans did not need government assistance.

Asian Americans face discrimination today. In one study at the University of Toronto, it was found that those of East Asian descent were thought of as extremely competent, but lacking leadership and dominance, making them overlooked for leadership positions. This is alluded to as the “bamboo ceiling”—and why Asian Americans don’t consider advanced degrees as profitable as for whites.

Black people have been discriminated against more openly and ruthlessly. The injustices they have been dealt with have been reprehensible and violent. From slavery, to segregation, to voter suppression, to lynching, to mass incarceration, to police brutality, Black people in America have been dealt a heavy blow.

I know I am excluding other underrepresented groups like Middle Eastern, South Asian, and others, which I know experience discrimination as well, but to be mindful of the length of this post, I am focusing on other people of color at this time.

The discrimination and racial injustices against people of color … all colors … is perpetrated by people of white skin. This was true even before American colonization. It is pervasive and though we try to make things better, other structures of suppression pop up.

As believers in Christ, we cannot stand by and be silent any longer. Scripture clearly tells us of God’s heart for all people. Each one of us are His creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are to treat every person with respect and love.

We should not favor whites over people of color because, as Christ’s followers, we follow His example and teachings. It was Jesus Christ’s disciple Peter who said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35 NIV)

In the book of Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV), we see that in heaven “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Everyone, no matter their nationality, their ethnicity, or their skin color will be excluded from God’s kingdom. If God does not exclude, why would we?

As we move forward in 2021, I am challenging myself—and others—to examine our lives to see we show favoritism. Do we watch TV and movies that only feature white leads? Do we read books that are white centered? Does our friend circle all have the same color skin? Do we initiate conversations with others who look different from us? Do we seek to befriend and truly know and understand others of different backgrounds? Are we calling out racism when we see it…in ourselves and in others? These are questions I am asking myself this year.

I pray that my heart grows in bravery in the face of injustice, and that I will expand my circle of friends to include more diversity. What about you? How will you work on your heart in regard to racial justice?

~*~
Author Bio:

Sherrinda Ketchersid is an author of historical romance and a minister’s wife who loves to paint in her Bible.


She loves to read, spend time in her flower garden, and try her hand at new crafts. She likes to blog and is part of a group called The Writers Alley. 

Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her husband of 35 years. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

~*~
Connect with Sherrinda:
Website: www.sherrinda.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherrindaKetchersidAuthor/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sherrinda
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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sherrinda-Ketchersid/e/B07Q5Y8QHF/

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Thoughts on what it takes to improve race relations


Know Better, Do Better
A guest post by Marie W. Watts

Being the change we seek in race relations requires a different mindset.

Have you heard the following?

“If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.”

For the sake of our nation, we cannot continue business as usual. But what’s the first step in breaking the cycle?

The psychological phenomena, the Pygmalion Effect, offers clues. This paradigm focuses on self-fulfilling prophesies. High expectations in a certain area led to enhanced performance. If I expect race relations to get better, they will get better. While I cannot change other people, I can change myself.

Ask yourself this question: Are you a person who wants better race relations or are you a person who improves race relations?

Just wanting something is nice but working for it makes all the difference. Once we begin with the mindset that we are someone who works to improve race relations, then we can begin to build habits that support our identity as a change agent.

Our mindset is enforced by small wins. And these small victories become habits. Soon these new behaviors become second nature.

These are some examples of small personal wins on the journey to racial equality:

· Do you hear/read something that reinforces negative stereotypes? Research it. Is it true?

Offer different opinions to others. Ingrained cultural stereotypes are difficult to tune out. Recognize yours and change your habits—stop acting on them.

· Smile and greet persons who are different from you. Do not ignore them.

· Be thoughtful while voting or contacting your elected representatives. Do you urge them to support legislation that furthers your goal of improving race relations?

· Volunteer or donate to causes that support your identity.

· Watch programs or read books about the effects of inequality on those who are different from us. Have you seen the PBS award-winning series “Eyes on the Prize”?

· Cultivate friendships with people who are different from yourself.

Set a goal for 2021 to remake your identity. The changes you make within radiate to those around you, setting the trajectory towards equality.

~*~
Author Bio:

Marie W. Watts is a former employment discrimination investigator and human resource consultant with over twenty-five years of experience. In pursuit of justice in the workplace, she’s been from jails to corporate boardrooms seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of humans at work. 

Her on-the-job observations came in handy when she co-authored a textbook about how to behave at work, Human Relations 4th ed. Additionally, her work has been published in the Texas Bar Journal and the Houston Business Journal as well as featured on Issues Today syndicated to 119 radio stations, NBC San Antonio, Texas, and TAMU-TV in College Station, Texas.

A popular diversity and employment discrimination trainer, Marie has trained thousands of employees to recognize their own biases and prejudices and avoid discriminating against others in the workplace. She has brought her experiences to life in the trilogy Warriors For Equal Rights about the struggles of ordinary people who work at the little-known federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

She and her husband live on a ranch in central Texas. In her spare time, she supports a historic house and hangs out with her grandsons. For more information about Marie and her stories about life, visit www.mariewatts.com.

~*~
Connect with Marie:
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/marie-w-watts
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mariewattsbooks
Twitter - https://twitter.com/MarieWattsBooks
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