Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: How to be a good neighbor

Who is My Neighbor?
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

“‘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)

The Bible verse above stands out as a cornerstone for building bridges on the journey of racial reconciliation. Everyone around us is our neighbor, no matter the color of their skin or their economic status. When a teacher of the law asked Jesus Christ what must one do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked him what the law said. The teacher replied with the scripture listed above: Love God and love your neighbor. 

Then the teacher then asks the question: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29 NIV)

Jesus proceeded to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A man was beaten by robbers and left for dead. A priest walks by but doesn’t stop to help the man. A Levite walks by but doesn’t stop either. A Samaritan comes along and helps the man. He even takes him to an inn and pays for the man’s care. This Samaritan was a true neighbor.

Now, the remarkable thing about this story is that priests and Levites were held in high esteem among the Jews, but Samaritans were snubbed. Samaritans were considered half-breeds. When the tribes of Israel split and became Judah and Israel, Israel was captured by the Assyrians and the Israelites intermarried with the Assyrians. They became known as Samaritans and were outcasts among the Jews.

But Jesus says the Samaritan was the good neighbor—not the priest and not the Levite.

Loving our neighbor is loving those who are outcasts, those who are in need, those who are marginalized and taken advantage of. Loving our neighbor is loving those who are different from us. Now you might live in a neighborhood where everyone looks like you. That is hard to change, right? But Jesus and his disciples give us an example of seeking out those who are different, those in need, and those who need a good neighbor.

After Jesus was baptized and then tempted by Satan, he began his ministry by moving from Nazareth to Capernaum in the area of Galilee. He went to a place unfamiliar to him. He lived among people he did not know. He walked the beach and called the disciples, who became his new friends and would eventually lead his future church (Matthew 4:12-25).

Jesus later sent his disciples out into the surrounding towns and neighborhoods. He led them to neighborhoods they probably did not want to enter and encouraged them to talk to people they might not otherwise (Luke 10:1-23).

Now, I’m not saying we have to move to more diverse neighborhoods to further racial reconciliation, but there are ways to “walk the beaches” as Jesus did and make new friends. We can shop at stores owned and frequented by people of color. We can eat at ethnic restaurants. We can visit churches that have more diversity in their congregation members and leadership.

If you have young children, seek out diverse friendships at your kid’s sporting events. If you are an empty nester, look to make friends at your city’s recreational center that hosts games or exercise groups. There are many ways to seek out diversity in the circles in which you live. You just have to put forth the effort to do so.

My prayer is that we follow the example of Jesus and his disciples as we learn how to be a good neighbor to those who are different from us. I pray that we love people as Jesus loved them, and seek the best for those around us. I pray that we can go beyond our sphere of influence and be the neighbor who walks the path of racial reconciliation.

Loving God and loving our neighbor is key for all who are traveling this road that leads to Heaven, where we all will be reunited with our Savior and each other for eternity.

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:


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Creating Equality

Creating Equality with the love of Jesus Christ
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

“So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy.” – Philippians 2:2 (TPT)

“I like this church.”

My 12-year-old whispered to me as we listened to the spirit-led worship.

This was our first time visiting a church that was predominantly Caucasian. Usually we attend a church that is mainly filled with African Americans. However, some recent life events led me to explore other churches to see if I could find another place of worship that offered sound Bible based teaching and a children’s program that would allow my kids the opportunity to learn and grow in their faith.

This new church seemed to have all. I enjoyed the praise and worship experience. I felt extremely accepted there. Yet it is not quite “home” where I worshipped with people who look like me and share similar life experiences. I found this feeling of not being home to be strange because of the fact that though people may not look like me here in this White church, I was still worshipping in a church building. So why would it feel different?

As a woman of color, I struggle between loving people the way God has called me to and staying quiet to keep the peace we are to seek. Standing up for those who have been oppressed is what the Bible calls us to do. But, when we decide to actually move in that scripture though, we meet resistance. We are called to love all people, but I realize that for reasons we still have yet to fully know or understand, not everyone will love me or my BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) brothers and sisters the way Jesus Christ has stated in the scripture above.

If the world is going to know and accept Jesus and His free gift of salvation then the church is going to have to unify Black, White, Asian, Indian, Latino and ALL people of color. All of us, regardless of our race, need to be pushing for the same goal: winning souls for Jesus!

We need to be glorifying and adding to the Kingdom of God, teaching people about Jesus, and telling the people in this broken world that there is a Man who is waiting right there to catch them. His name is Jesus Christ.

Let us come together as allies. Let us join hands and walk toward the cross of Christ together, creating equality while bringing along our brothers and sisters as we fight for the cause of Christ. Let us work in unison from our hearts for the kingdom. Let us create equality starting with the love we share of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


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:
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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: The Image of God

Created In His Image
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

On June 4 of last year, I began to pen a post on my personal Facebook page after being sent multiple inboxes and text messages about a few conversations amongst mainstream African American pastors and Caucasian pastors/leaders.

Many were discussing race and the brutal murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day. Days before, I had penned another piece asking where all white leaders of faith had been in response to what the world witnessed. The dialogue seemed to be a beginning many in the church had been longing to see.

As I hit play on a video of a conversation between two male pastors (one Black and one White), I listened with an open heart and an open mind, only to feel a deep sadness. While many of the things they said were true, there was the elephant in the room no one wanted to touch. As the pastors spoke, they used words like diversity, inclusion, and multicultural. What was missing was that this prominent White pastor had an all-White leadership team running the ministry many minorities loved. And even since the conversation taped at his ministry went viral, the leadership has not changed at all.

Let me be clear when I tell you I am equally saddened when ministries led by any person of color also lack a diverse leadership. Why? Because our churches being divided is not the vision of God. We do not serve a segregated God, so why are we still a segregated Bride? We cannot continue to look like a dying world that Jesus Christ came back to save, and believe we will be effective in partnering with God in the building of His Kingdom. Our divides are keeping us from being effective in partnering with God in the building of His Kingdom.

I have this question: If the same God created us in His image, then why does the color of your skin make you superior to me based on the color of my skin? Why are we moved by gifts and talents more than the mere value of one another moves us as brothers and sisters in Christ? 

Genesis 1:27 (NIV) says the following, “God created all humanity in His image. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” If we were shaped and made into the likeness of God as a representation of God, shouldn’t we then welcome the complete expression of His Bride through our differences?

I am well aware that we have a long way to go before we can see lasting transformation in this world, and unfortunately, even in the church. We have said God’s Word is accurate, yet we don’t always live it as truth. God did not send His son to divide us, but to die for us that we may be one with Him and the Father. When will we push past the superficial that divides us and connect with the supernatural God who wants to unite us as the Body of Christ?

Let’s Pray: Father God, you created us in your image. You chose us to represent you and your likeness. Please help us see others as your children no matter what they look like or the color of their skin. Please help us lay down our biases and comforts, for you do not work in our comfort. Let your Word rule in our hearts and let it be demonstrated in our responses and actions. Let me lead my life as one who says no to division and yes to the reconciliation and unity of the Bride and Body of Christ. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God.

I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019, with the second volume to be released in 2021. I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

Connect with Kai:

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: When we cannot breathe

I Can’t Breathe
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?” 
–Micah 6:8a (NIV)

America has been on trial and the verdict is in.

The murder of George Floyd before the world one year ago, and the trial the next, revealed the uncomfortable narrative of the pain and injustice inflicted upon Black America since slavery.

After the largest civil rights protest in years, former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The victim, a Black man named George Floyd, became a household name while the world watched the White officer use his knee to render a neck compression restraint, with his hands in his pockets and a sneer on his face until Floyd took his final breath. Almost a year later, millions watched the broadcast of the trial, figuratively holding their breath until the verdict was reached. Although Floyd had heart disease and drugs were found in his body, the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. Restrained, Floyd cried out for his mother twice while breathlessly moaning, “I can’t breathe” in his final moments that left an indelible mark on the world.

During the trial, the defense attorney argued that Floyd’s crying, “I can’t breathe,” was a type of resisting arrest. The attorney went on to say that during the arrest, the officer acted with “objective reasonableness”. In other words, the defending argument concluded that because he fought against being handcuffed and shoved into the back of the squad car, the way the police officer restrained Floyd was warranted. Listening to the audio of the video, amidst the tussling you could hear Floyd crying out for help as he told the officer he was claustrophobic. With no evidence of a weapon causing the officer to feel endangered, he offered Floyd no help.

The idea that it was suggested that his death was because he resisted arrest or had drugs in his body revealed to the world the way policing in America works between officers and Black people. Based on history, there was still fear that the officer would be vindicated.

Floyd may have been accused of resisting arrest, but in fact, it is the resistance by White America to deal with the reality of racism, in policing as well as in every facet of society every day. The painful cry of Floyd for his mother while gasping for his breath could’ve been viewed as a depiction of the pain Black people have had to endure since slavery.

The nine minutes that he couldn’t breathe, while having his life slowly drained from him was a slow and painful enactment of the years of pain and suffering inflicted upon Black people as a result of systemic racism. The video clip shown over and over from May 2020 until May 2021, served as a bird’s-eye view of nearly 400 years of legalized punishment for being Black in America. The intersectionality between America’s painful past and the reality of the present, exposed the systemic racist police practices that have been used to dehumanize Black people since slavery. Until White America accepts African-Americans as human, the dehumanization of Black and Brown bodies will continue.

Since the murder of Floyd, the discussion of defunding or the intentional deconstruction and reconstruction of the police has taken a front seat. With some resistance especially since the trial, the world has shifted to the much bigger discussion of some type of police reform. The resistance ranging from those who think reform is not necessary, to those who believe it is imperative, reveals a panoramic view of a problem deeply embedded in American culture. While the breath continues to be literally and figuratively drained from the bodies of Black Americans, this country is faced with a decision. Watching the breath of Floyd stolen from him was a depiction of the countless Black bodies stolen as a result of police shootings today. The decision to not only be better as individuals, but collectively as a nation must be made.

In reflecting on policing and the loss of Black lives, I’m reminded of the scriptures surrounding Micah 6:8. The prophet Micah spoke to a culture very similar to that of America. A culture characterized by the sins of idolatry, immorality, injustice, and rebellion against worshipping God. Micah was emphasizing the importance of one not only knowing what to do, but actually doing it and living it according to God’s Word.

Micah proclaimed the coming of the Christ child, in the second chapter of his book (Micah). He told us about the One who could redeem humanity from the sin of racism. The One who could breathe life into this country with all its racist structures and systems. The One who could reform not only the system of policing but the police themselves. In Micah chapter 6, the prophet boldly proclaimed what was required of the people and nations identified as belonging to God. In Micah 6:8, he declared three practical requirements to exemplify God’s breath of life in a breathless society. The Scripture (Micah 6:8 NIV) reads:

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

The first requirement was to act justly, a divine justice that goes beyond a law, beyond thinking laws alone would bring lasting heart changes. This was a justice of ethics and morals implemented in one’s daily lives, a justice that called for societal reformation. Today, this type of justice calls for police to be servants by doing justly to those they serve.

The next requirement was God calling for His people to love mercy. Not to only show mercy but to love it to the degree that they extend to others what they don’t deserve. If mercy had been extended toward Floyd for trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill, he could’ve received a simple pardon instead of a death sentence.

The third requirement is to walk humbly with God. Walking humbly grounds our walk with the Lord. Humility is the grace needed to do justice and love mercy. Floyd needed mercy, not death.

Let’s Pray:
Lord, I humble myself in prayer asking you to breathe on America and heal our land. Help us to see you in our brothers and sisters and to love one another like you love each of us. Help us to acknowledge racism in our country and to do our part to eradicate it from our hearts, our country, and our world. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 

Dr. 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:

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: How a pastor's dream changed America

A Pastor’s Dream that changed America
A guest post by Kristen Terrette

He was a pastor first.

This sentence has run through my mind for years.

After working on the manuscript since early 2016, my Young Adult novel, See You Monday, released on April 30 with Elk Lake Publishing. That’s five years of writing, editing, and rewriting. It’s also a long time to mull over a certain scene.

Parts of the novel slip back into the early sixties. And one scene takes us to August 28, 1963—the day the March for Jobs and Freedom was held in Washington D.C., and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

I want to discuss this day and this great man but decided an excerpt from my story will help me explain. In this part of the story, we’ve just read about 10-year-old Sandy (who’s now a grandmother) watching the news coverage of the March and Dr. King with her family. Now, back in “present day,” Grace (Sandy’s 17-year-old granddaughter) can’t believe her grandmother witnessed the speech on live TV.

Excerpt from See You Monday:

~ Grace ~

“Mimi, I can’t believe you watched the speech live.”

“It was fantastic.” Her hand went over her heart.

Grace turned to her mother. “Mom, we talked about it all last week on its anniversary.” She turned back to Mimi. “Apparently, there were like 250,000 people there. The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was voted the most well-known speech ever. Dr. King even won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Mom poured herself another cup of coffee. “I had to read and watch it in school too, you know. Back in the nineties.”

“Dr. King spoke with such passion.” Mimi took the plates from the table and walked to the sink. “I’m shocked to find we, as a society, forget a major part of his background.” The plates made a clanking sound as she put them in the sink. “Remember,” she pointed at Grace, “he was a pastor first. We forget his speech was laced with many Bible verses.”

Mimi took a deep breath and gripped the sink’s edge. “I’ve read interviews from people who were there in the crowd, and I’ve watched his speech many times since I was a child. Did you learn he veered from his typed-out, prepared speech about twelve minutes into his, roughly, sixteen-minute talk?”

Grace interjected, “Yeah, and we learned Mahalia Jackson, you know the famous gospel singer, yells to him around the twelve-minute mark, ‘Tell ’em ’bout the dream, Martin! Tell ’em ’bout the dream!’”

Both adults hooted at Grace’s high octave voice. Mom said, “My, how Mahalia could sing.”

Mimi started again. “Yeah. And Clarence Jones, a good friend of Dr. King, is quoted numerous times recalling how he turned to the person next to him and said, ‘These people don’t know it, but they’re about ready to go to church.’ And King’s speech, from that moment on, was completely adlibbed using the ‘I have a dream’ phrase, which he had used in a few other speeches before. Clarence Jones said Dr. King’s ‘whole body language changed.’ He went into preacher-mode.”

She came to the table and sat down. “If you watch it, you’ll see Dr. King doesn’t look down at his typed speech once he utters the words, ‘I have a dream.’ His words even speed up.”

Her full-on storytelling-mode had Mimi’s hands moving, and her elementary school librarian skills showed off in her voice, also echoing the mannerisms of great-grandma Johnnie. “I’m convinced if you were to ask Dr. King what happened then, he’d say the Holy Spirit took over. He recalled Scripture to pour out on, what … now 250,000 people? Did you know the sound speakers at the Lincoln Memorial were damaged right before Dr. King spoke? And Robert Kennedy ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to do whatever it took to fix them?”

Mimi’s voice seemed to heat up. “Dr. King was His.” She pointed to the ceiling. “God used Dr. King to inspire change. Change without violence. Change done with love.” Mimi took a long slow breath. “I’m sorry, girls. I’m a bit fired up.”

Grace released the breath she’d been holding. “It’s okay. I’m fired up, too.” If a rapid heartbeat is an indication. “And, you’re right.”

~ End of excerpt from See You Monday ~

Can you imagine the scene in D.C.? Witnessing the Holy Spirit pour out on 250,000 people in Dr. King’s words?

Having marched for miles in the sweltering heat and singing hymns together in large groups along the way, the captivated audience gathered at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and spread along its Reflecting Pool. They would have heard the soulful voice of gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, minutes before Dr. King took the stage. And, since they were a churched generation, they would’ve recognized the Bible verses uttered in his glorious speech. Frankly, they would’ve known Dr. King was preaching. They would’ve even expected it.

Because the people knew Dr. King was a pastor first.

Generation Z, which accounts for today’s high school and college students, are the most unchurched group ever. Studies show only 4% of this generation holds a biblical worldview, and 13% consider themselves atheists or agnostics. If you were to type into an internet search “Generation Z, unchurched, and/or spiritual,” you’d see numerous articles discussing this topic. They are the largest group in the world needing to be reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ. If you are a parent of a Gen Z’er, then your home is literally a mission field.

As I watch and read about more racial injustice and disunity, I can’t help but wonder how different our country and world would be if this young generation knew Jesus. If we, as parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, and family members did our job by helping these young people know God by getting them to church on the weekend, providing them with a biblical foundation, and guiding them into right relationships with other believers.

The momentum of the sixties faltered somewhere, but I believe it’s trying to pick back up again. This is amazing news, and I pray my children see change and are a part of it. In fact, this very generation (Z) is known for its desire for social activism and pushing for equality. But, in my opinion, all of this done without God is a failure from the start.

What are your thoughts? How can we be a part of helping Generation Z know God and push for the change Dr. King believed in?

And on a lighter note, where were you when you first heard Dr. King’s iconic speech? 

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

Back Cover Blurb for Kristen’s new novel, See You Monday:

Senior year. The homestretch. 

Honor student, Grace Warner, had it easy. Popularity, friends, attention from her crush, even a soccer scholarship offer—if only she can figure out her senior project to graduate on time. Getting approval to write about someone’s life-changing event, Grace recruits her sassy grandma as her mentor who can’t wait to tell the crazy story from her childhood.

Events in the early sixties are words in history books to Grace, but her grandma lived them. She witnessed the civil rights movement in full swing, desegregation becoming a reality in her southern town, Martin Luther King, Jr. moving the country with his iconic speech, and the country coming to a halt when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Grace loves finding out her family history but didn't know the project would have her noticing hardships and prejudices at her school she hadn’t before. When the homecoming court is announced and new kid, Jacob Horton, is nominated as a colossal prank, it brings Grace to a choice, much like her grandmother years before her. God is about to use her in a miracle if she chooses correctly. If she fails, a life could be lost.

Buy See You Monday online on Amazon:

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