Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: We need each other

Not "Me, Myself and I"
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.”
–1 Corinthians 12:14-18 (MSG)

To be created equal in America has meant something different for each American.

Our history tells us we have not always been equal, and our current climate shows us we still have far to go. But why within the confines of Christianity have we adopted the notion that one group, one denomination, and or race is superior than the other? Why are we acting as if one is not necessary and we can get along or carry on without one another? WE CANNOT!

The world would have us believe you do not need anyone. The best thing you can do is to adopt a “Me, Myself and I,” attitude. If you are focused on yourself and making sure you are good above anyone else, then you will be successful. The truth is, this is not true at all. Think about it for a moment. How lonely would it be if you believed you were capable of doing everything by yourself, within yourself?

I am innately an introvert. I am very comfortable being by myself and with myself.

However, I am very aware of the dangers awaiting anyone who does not connect with others.

Because of my role as a pastor, I am with people quite often. I can honestly say I would have never thought I would be a pastor. Because of my love for God and obedience I accepted the call on my life and it has allowed me to meet some of the most incredible people. I, the introvert, love meeting new people, and engaging and learning about others. Their culture, ways they grew up, and their faith, intrigues me.

I have learned to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of the human race.

It is our unique make-up that makes the world truly beautiful.

Let’s pray: Dear God, Help me to break out of my own way of doing and seeing things. As a part of the global Body of Christ I cannot only think about me. Give me your heart towards my brothers and sisters who I know and those I do not. Remove any selfish ways in me. 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. The second volume will 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.

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Call to Open Your Eyes

Open Your Eyes
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

Jesus told them, “If you would acknowledge your blindness, then your sin would be removed. But now that you claim to see, your sin remains with you!” – John 9:41 (TPT)

Reading over this scripture above I cannot help but wonder how many Christians today are blinded and have no idea or worse yet, think they see everything clearly and are really stuck in sin because of it. Sure, they do not attack those of other cultures or ethnicities, and they do not treat them as less than, but they do not get involved in making change either.

In a time where there is major shift happening in the world and where Christians and the church should be the first to stand up, they are not. If we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, could start having real conversations about what we do not know and do not understand then we could have major impact and create unity like we have never seen before. The time is up for the church to be divided for there to be “White church” or “Black church”. We need the body of Christ to rise and be “The Church”!

I need my Caucasian church partners to ask questions if they do not understand. I need the African American church to be open to answering those questions. We all need to start embracing other cultures in the faith so that we can encourage and empower one another. There is no more time to walk around thinking we are seeing clearly when we are really missing the whole picture altogether. Something powerful can and will happen when believers in Christ get together and start decreeing the goodness of God and sharing their testimonies.

Jesus Christ did not come to save one race of people. He came to save all humankind! Jesus loves us all like we are His best friend, brother or sister. It is time that the men and women of God who claim to be His disciples stand up and do the same.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, I ask that you bless the one who is reading these words right no. Please touch their heart God and do a supernatural work. If they have been blinded, touch them and help them to truly see. God, forgive us for the times we allowed what we thought we knew to block us from learning your truth. Let us walk hand in hand with other churches of other cultures and races so that we can help build your Kingdom the way you called us too. 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.

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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A call to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God

A Call to Action 
A guest post by Heidi Lewis-Ivey

“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
– Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)

July 4 is a special day for American citizens because The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. This act resulted in the official separation of the 13 original colonies from Great Britain amid the Revolutionary War.

This is also considered the birth of our nation. It’s interesting to me that at the same time, Black people were enslaved, and Native people had been pushed off land they’d inhabited long before 1492. For me and many others, this Independence Day feels different and I have to ask, “How do we reconcile the history of this nation in our hearts?”

I attended a virtual conference last weekend whose theme scripture was Isaiah 61:4. As I listened to the speakers talk about rebuilding the ancient ruins, restoring places long devastated, and renewing the ruined cities, I began to ask myself, “What does this all mean?”

Hoping to find answers to my question, I did a word search and rediscovered these definitions, according to Merriam-Webster:

Rebuild means “to restore to a previous state” and “to make extensive repairs to.”

Restore means “put back or bring back into a former or original state.”

Renew means “restore to existence” and “to make new spiritually: REGENERATE”

There it was, the word “regenerate” that is the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit.

To reconcile racism in the history of America, there needs to be regeneration. The Holy Spirit reminded me that this process begins with repentance. In this case, it is repentance not for our individual sin, but for the sins of the nation.

According to Rev. Melwyn Misquitta, “identification repentance” is first the work of intercession. During this act of intercession, one identifies with a particular corporate sin (national, regional, ethnic, religious, vocational, or family) and represent the perpetrators (or victims) by repenting of that particular sin.

There are several Biblical examples that I will share in a short list below. Note that in these examples, the Bible characters Ezra, Jeremiah and Daniel didn’t commit the sin they confessed. But as representatives, they identified with and confessed the corporate sin.

Read these three Bible verses for the details:

1. Ezra 9:6-16

2. Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 14:7

3. Daniel 9:8-10

Finally, read Micah 6:8 (NIV) for details on what God requires of us. The verse says: “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.”

Closing Thoughts:

1. Speak out for justice in the nation. Read Amos 2:6b-7 (NRSV) for details.

2. Speak out for justice among nations. Read Amos chapter 1 (all of it).

Let’s Pray: Father God, we as a body of believers repent for the sin of our nation. Lord, forgive us for the injustices we have perpetrated against each other. Have mercy on us for the division that exists. Help us to live up to the creed that all men are created equal and that we are one nation under God. Forgive us, oh Lord, because we have not displayed your love for each other. Lord, we have allowed our fears and false beliefs that have been passed down through generations, to turn our hearts. Heal us from the inside out and cause your love to permeate within us. You said in John 13:35 (KJV), “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This is my desire. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Heidi Lewis-Ivey is an ordained elder, a prophetic minister, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and an award-winning and bestselling author.  

She is the author of Can I Rest Awhile? and a co-author in Soulful Prayers Volumes 1 and 2 and Soulful Affirmations.

She has her Master of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Boston University.

Heidi is a member of the Pentimenti Women Writers Group, a mentor with YearUp, a board member for Friends of Young Achievers, and a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Strategist.

She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Introducing the writers

Introducing Heidi Lewis-Ivey, in her words:

I had my dream job as an executive working in London helping clients identity their profitability strategies. I had a two-bedroom apartment around the corner from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In the evenings, I visited the galleries and museums. On the weekends, I could be found in Paris at the Louvre. Back home in the USA, I owned a 3,000 square-foot brick Colonial house and drove the car I wanted. I am the girl who is a first-generation high school and college graduate from public housing that made good. I lived a life that was expected of me. My parents mapped out my life and I followed it to the letter. I carried their hopes and dreams.

However, this lifestyle came at a price to me. I wasn’t prepared for the White male-dominated world of finance. I’d never encountered wealthy people. They spoke differently and acted differently. For the first time, I was exposed to wealth and privilege. I learned their language and their behavior. As a result, I found myself code-switching. There were very few women, let alone women of color. I was the only Black Woman at the table. This meant that I had to prove over and over that I had earned the right to be there.

I experienced a great deal of racism and bias from other women. They would come to my office for meetings and would turn and speak to my manager (a White man) and not to me. They often pretended to marvel at how well I spoke or at my intelligence. Oh, did I forget to mention wanting to touch my hair? The environment was difficult. It was hard to go to work every day. But I could not disappoint my family. I introduced them to a middle-class lifestyle and taught them to invest their money. We dined in some of Boston’s best restaurants and ate food we never knew existed. I took my Mom to her first Broadway show.

Later in my career, I became frustrated with being the only woman of color in the room. So, I asked a question that I already knew the answer to. I asked a CEO how many people of color were part of his management team? He gave me the standard answer about the number of women in leadership. In my reply, I suggested that a committee be formed to discuss diversity across the firm. To my surprise, he agreed. This was my introduction to Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

Being the change I want to see is about doing the work.

I’ve become an ally for the PRIDE Network. I know this is unpopular with the faith communities. I provide consulting services to organizations helping them to define their DE&I strategies. I volunteer with nonprofits that provide programs that help young women find careers in STEM. I also have a new book project scheduled for release late summer where several women share their stories on how they’ve navigated racism and biases in their careers and communities.

More importantly, I’ve committed to examine my own prejudices and biases and change the way I show up. In doing so, I keep Micah 6:8 (KJV) in mind: He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Author Bio:

Heidi Lewis-Ivey is an ordained elder, a prophetic minister, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and an award-winning and bestselling author. 

She is the author of Can I Rest Awhile? and a co-author in Soulful Prayers Volumes 1 and 2 and Soulful Affirmations. 

She has her Master of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Boston University.

Heidi is a member of the Pentimenti Women Writers Group, a mentor with YearUp, a board member for Friends of Young Achievers, and a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Strategist.

She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Connect with Heidi:

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Why we need to lament

A Call to Lament
A guest post by Kristen Terrette


It’s a word I rarely used until about a year ago.

To lament means to passionately express grief or sorrow and, in my opinion, to go a step further in our repentance. When we repent, we feel sincere regret or remorse about our wrongdoing or sin and turn away from it. But lamenting brings a physical element to this sorrow, this guilt, this the feeling of shame. When we see people lament in the Bible, there’s an action to it. There is weeping. There is crying out. There is fervent prayer.

I use this word regularly of late. I’ve long thought slavery and the Trail of Tears, treating humans as property and “savages”, was sinful, shameful, and disgraceful. And in truth, there aren’t many Americans who don’t feel this way. But we’ve got a long way to go in lamenting and repenting for the hundreds of years of sin our country (USA) that our White ancestors were a part of.

When I look at our nation and finally truly see its sinful past against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) groups, and its effects happening even today, I lament my role in perpetuating it.

And what baffles me is the push back from White Christians over lamenting our sinful past. This very idea causes many White people to react in offense and shock because they feel that they do not need to lament something they weren’t a part of.

But I believe that’s simply not true and impossible.

Since the beginning of history, ethnic groups have been conquered, their lands taken, plundered, and their people were placed under the rule of the conqueror. Sometimes the conquerors destroyed those they deemed “unworthy” so completely that entire villages, towns, even nations were wiped out forever. And, sadly, it is a historical fact that this cycle happened to the Indigenous people in the United States. They were conquered in horrendous ways. Oftentimes, by White Christians.

And then there is the history of slavery in our nation.

With the Transatlantic Slave Trade, individuals were kidnapped and trafficked. We talk a lot about the current trafficking atrocities in the world. We’re passionate about ending this sin against humanity. But why does the same passion seem to be now politically incorrect when describing the Transatlantic Slave Trade in our own country, by calling it what it really was—a people group trafficked by White Christians?

Innocent men, women, and children were kidnapped, abused, murdered, raped, chained, torn apart from their families, forced into labor, their human dignity stripped, and placed in situations totally out of their control.

Some people may say that they never had slaves, but we live in a country whose thriving economy and very existence was built on human trafficking.

You may say your ancestors came to America for a new life after the abolition of slavery (as some of mine did). But your family, and mine, profit from an economy that was established through the forceful enslavement of human beings.

What is stopping us from seeing and admitting our past? From being willing to lament? Why are White Christians not leading this charge by the hundreds of thousands?


Blinded by the enemy and blind to the devil’s generational curse on us.

I lament this. I cry over this. I tell God I’m so sorry my country hurt Him and His beloved so badly. I tell Him we have sinned against Him and to please forgive us.

Daniel is an excellent example of the power of personal and national lamenting. According to Daniel 9:4-5 (NLT), he said: I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.”

And later in Daniel 9:16 (NLT), he pleads for God to turn His anger away again. The verse reads, “In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.”

Daniel was a great and godly man. He likely did not personally sin against God in this way, but he prays and laments anyway. He was not alive when his people (his ancestors before him), sinned against God, yet he prayed and lamented anyway.

I want to follow Daniel’s example. I want to break the curse of blindness over our nation’s sins. I don’t want to be the source of any more abuse to people of color. I want to make a difference, taking strides to make things right for those who have been hurt.

This is my plea for all of us. That we pray and seek God, read and inform ourselves, and not only from people who are like us. That we seek to be informed with an open mind and spirit of love. That we are brave and open to change. That we are bold in tearing any veil the enemy has over our eyes.

Lament. Let us begin to use this word freely and sincerely. Amen.

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

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