Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Waiting on our deliverer


The Deliverer
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)

The scripture above calls for the weak, the fatherless, the poor, oppressed and needy to be delivered from the hand of wicked oppressors. Although the psalmist knew that God could deliver, he also knew that God often uses those in authority to deliver.

Thousands of years later, God’s cry for deliverance continues. The question is, who will answer?

In the case of enslaved Africans, this cry was heard by a group of Christians called Abolitionists. It would be understandable that slaves couldn’t imagine there being one White person genuinely reflecting the tenets of the Christian faith. All the slaves could probably envision were their masters with a whip in one hand and a Bible in another. Could it be that any would be willing to take an interest in delivering the enslaved? Could it be that there might be one White person, much less more than one, willing to risk their reputation to set slaves free? As the psalmist cried out in behalf of the oppressed, would there not be one who would do the same for the slaves?

The Quakers heard the voice of the Lord. In response, they were very instrumental in becoming anti-slavery activists. They clearly understood that slavery as it existed in the minds of the oppressor, was not the heart of God. Because of their stance against slavery, they stood on scriptures such as Genesis 1:27 that says humankind was created in the Imago Dei (the image of God). They believed if everyone was created in God’s image, then everyone – including slaves –had the same right to be free.

In the year 1754, the British Quakers led the way in starting to dismantle the prevailing attitudes toward the slave trade and the institution of slavery. After several years of changing thought instituted by the power of the gospel, British and American theologians worked to abolish slavery. The power of the Gospel was evident during what was called the Great Awakening. In a time when Christians were complacently building wealth from the owning of slaves, God brought revival to the hearts of many. History has it that during this time, more and more White Christians began to embrace the belief that it was a sin to purchase or own slaves.

As the southern White Christians used their authority to initiate and organize the movement, the Abolitionists became the modern-day answer to the psalmist’s cry for God’s people to be a delivering people in Psalm 82. In southern states where slavery was clearly accepted as the norm by most White people, there were those whose views were slowly transforming.

As some began openly opposing slavery, many of them lost position and privileges in society. Privileged because of the color of their skin, for thirty years these White men and women answered God’s call to sacrifice their own lives to deliver the oppressed. A White and Black brigade! They were brave, bold and resilient. Hidden from the slave masters, the White Abolitionists became the secret friends of slaves escaping to freedom on foot from the South to the North. With an intersection of bravery and unwavering faith, an estimated 100,000 slaves escaped on the path to freedom called the Underground Railroad.

Following a God-inspired pathway of routes while moving on foot, slaves journeyed through the woods, dangerous hidden roads, waded across rivers and swamps. They also hid in covered wagons, homes, church buildings and businesses often operated by the Abolitionists. Sometimes they rode on horses at night to reach the shore where they were loaded onto boats, crossing over into the promised land of the northern states. Only by the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Underground Railroad was woven together by Christian Abolitionists who helped to create this divinely orchestrated path of deliverance. Although not all safely escaped, by God’s grace, many survived to tell of their victorious journeys from slavery to freedom.

The presumption might be that because of the resources needed to help with such an undertaking, only wealthy White men or only those in the dominate culture could take part in the movement against slavery. On the other hand, because of the socio-economic implications, others could not understand why any White person would take the risk of participating in the costly movement against slavery.

I believe as with today’s White ally anti-racist movement, the beauty of the Abolitionist movement was the assembling together of Black and White Christians who willingly sacrificed their lives while portraying the very similar role of the anti-slavery activists. It was through this movement that White people and Black people learned how to step across the invisible, socially constructed racialized lines drawn to keep them separate.

As the Abolitionist movement continued to grow, it took a willingness in the heart of God’s people to allow the transformative work of the Holy Spirit to break the invisible barriers dividing them. These barriers had separated them for almost a century. Even though I am sure there were always those individuals who felt slavery was wrong, because the institution was so deeply embedded in their hearts and so ingrained in the foundation of American capitalism, it was difficult to let go of the ideology. This made the work of the Abolitionists even more profound as Black people and White people worked together tirelessly to end an institution that fed the economy the way slavery did. I often refer to the Abolitionist movement as a depiction of today’s ideal model of the multicultural church.

Historically just as scripture was used to justify slavery, the Abolitionist’s written materials were laced with the teachings of Jesus to call for the deliverance of slaves. As the Holy Spirit-led writers declared the truth written in the Torah, God’s Word always has, and always will deliver.

Let’s Pray: Lord, may we your people defend the weak and fatherless, may we uphold justice for the poor and may we deliver the oppressed. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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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.

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

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A conversation with Robrenna Redl about race, faith and hope


Kristen Rimer Terrette’s interview with Robrenna Redl 
for Sharing Our Stories

Today, Kristen is sharing an interview that she conducted with her friend Robrenna Redl.

Read a bit about Robrenna below then enjoy her interview!

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Robrenna’s Bio:

Robrenna is a wife, mama, writer, podcast host, coffee lover, and survivor. She describes herself as a real, raw, no-filters kind of girl, so she doesn't do small talk. Robrenna likes to dig deep and be a safe place to have real and hard conversations. 


She is a volunteer for the anti-sex trafficking organization I’ve Got A Name and an apprentice facilitator for the Trauma Healing Institute. Robrenna lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with Troy who is her husband of 21 years, two young adult children, and her 60 pound labradoodle, Evie.

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The Interview:

Kristen:
Hi, Robrenna! Thank you for joining me on Sharing Our Stories. I’m fascinated by all you have your hands in. Your influence is strong and done with excellence, which is very hard to accomplish, so certainly God has His hand over you! Tell us a little bit about your background so we can get to know you, including something fun that’s not on your website.

Robrenna: Thank you for your kind words. Yes, God’s hand is in everything I’ve been doing. He’s challenging me to step out on faith while stretching and blessing me along the way. It’s interesting because I didn’t grow up a Christian. My childhood was a nomadic one. I was born in Chicago, but my stepfather was drafted into the Army, and our first duty station was Germany. I remember playing with the local kids on our cobblestone street, unable to understand a word of the language the other spoke, but still playing and having fun.

Our last duty station was in Texas, where my parents divorced when I was a junior high school. It was tough because we were homeless for a year. Since shelters weren’t available at that time, my mom made a difficult decision to split up the family to ensure we had a roof over our heads. My brother stayed in town with a teammate on the basketball team. My mom and sisters lived in another town 30 minutes away. After living with a cousin in another town for a few months, my friend Anne, who is still my sister-friend today, asked her mom to take me in. That experience shaped the way I see people, see struggle, and see the marginalized.

After quitting college for financial reasons, I joined the military, where I met my husband. I served in the Texas and Nebraska National Guard for 21 years. At age forty, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. While in the military, my colleague Sergeant Gina Johnson asked me to lunch and invited me to church. I declined her invitation. I told her I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I’ll never forget Gina told me, “Jesus will take you just as you are.” Although I never went to church with her, I remembered what she said. Ten years after Gina shared her love of God and His love for me, I professed my faith in Jesus Christ. Fun Fact: My friends say I’m the queen of GIFs. I’m also an avid true crime fan to see how detectives put clues together and solve the case.

Kristen: Thank you. You’re a Rockstar! Now, you have two terrific podcasts. Can you explain the purpose and your inspiration behind each one?

Robrenna: When my daughter entered 6th grade, I was a Bible teacher for her class. It was then I noticed girls struggling with the question of, “Who am I?” Therefore, I created a Bible study to help answer this and engage moms to join me in the quest. That’s the inspiration behind my “Mama Take Heart: Understanding Your GenZ Girl” podcast. It is my mission as a podcaster to help moms be the compassionate, gospel-centered, influential voice in their girl’s life. The first few episodes help parents understand the world of GenZ, such as what they value, fear, and their worldview. I also ask guests on the show to discuss different topics like the effects of screen time, social media, anxiety, and trauma, to name a few. I offer practical takeaways and resources to walk alongside their girl, graciously imparting truth.

The other podcast, GRIT-Getting Real while Immersed in Truth, started in response to George Floyd’s death. The first five episodes are Conversations in Black and White. Friends and acquaintances sit with me, a black woman, to have conversations about the state of race in our country. I like to talk about things the church is reluctant to tackle. I began the episodes with race because it’s relevant to what’s happening in our country and the church. The other part of GRIT is for those experiencing church hurt. I experienced this myself, so I want to help people process the anger or grief that accompanies it. It’s much more complicated than people think.

Kristen: You also blog, and one discusses the topic of color blindness. I admit to having used this term before but now believe what you say to be true: “I would rather hear that all our different races, ethnicities, experiences, and backgrounds are of value.” To people who have said this with good intentions, like me, but fell short in understanding the ignorance of it, can you lovingly explain and help us see the faults in the term color blind?

Robrenna: We’ve all used the term color blind during diversity training of the ‘80s and ’90s. Color blindness means acceptance. It falls short because it makes a person of color unseen by devaluing their experiences, culture, and heritage. For Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), a lot of cultural heritage was stripped away to assimilate to the majority culture to be accepted.

As a black woman, the color of my skin has affected my ancestry. People who look like me were kidnapped from their homeland and enslaved in another country. People who look like me couldn’t drink out of the water fountain, sit at the counter in a soda shop, swim in a pool, or go to specific beaches. People who look like me couldn’t live in particular neighborhoods, receive equal medical, educational, and job opportunities, or even apply for a bank loan. All because of the color of their skin. When a person acknowledges the skin I’m in, he or she acknowledges my heritage, struggle that of my ancestors, meaning my parents, grandparents, and so on.

Kristen: Thank you. Great explanation to help us all learn and grow in unity. Okay, so here on Sharing Our Stories, we’re all about getting real and helping open eyes to racial disunity while striving to be a part of the “change we seek” in racial unity. So, get real with us, what are your current hot topics in regard to racial reconciliation? Where are we failing and where are we making strides in the right direction?

Robrenna: I have a family that is multi-ethnic and multi-racial so my husband and I purchased a DNA Ancestry test for our 20th anniversary. My husband is white with 99.6% European, comprised of French, German, British, and Irish. I’m 87% Sub-Saharan African, including West African and Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean. The fascinating part is I’m also 11% Northwestern European consisting of British, Irish, and Scandinavian, and 1.2% East Asian and Native American. I tell you this because one of the current hot topics surrounds the construct of Whiteness. People don’t realize God created ethnicity—which is where ancestry is derived. Race is shared physical qualities and assumptions about a group of people created by an Anthropologist/Biologist, a supporter of Darwinism, and an agnostic Thomas Huxley. It’s a man-made construct.

Whiteness refers to people setting aside their ethnicity as a primary form of identity for the benefits and normalization of being White. When the Irish first came to America, they were mistreated because of their ethnicity. It’s through Whiteness that acceptance is achieved. I say well done to those in the church who recognize all are created Imago Dei and function as such regarding justice, voice, position, and power. To those still grappling with this part of Scripture, to move forward, we must acknowledge and lament the sin of racism, unlearn, relearn, and repent to get to reconciliation. How wonderful would it be to see Revelation 7:9 as the church?

Kristen: You are so right! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. You are an inspiration!

Note to the readers: Follow Robrenna on Instagram or check out her website. Find her podcasts here: Mama, Take Heart Understanding Your Gen-Z Girl and GRIT-Getting Real Immersed in Truth.

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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.

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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/