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/