Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Solidarity

God's Heart for Solidarity
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

I’ve been looking into the word "solidarity" lately.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of solidarity is: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

We’ve seen on the news people protesting by bending on one knee (instead of two) during the national anthem at football games. We’ve seen people wearing certain colors to show support for a cause. Recently, American shot putter Raven Saunders put her arms in an X shape while on the Olympic medal podium to show her solidarity with those who are oppressed. These actions make you stop and look, don’t they? They point a finger to what is wrong in the world. They make you sit up and take notice.

I decided to see what the Bible has to say about solidarity. 

Here are a few of the many verses I found in my search:
  •  “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
  • “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)
  •  “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” – Romans 14:19 (ESV)
These verses speak of peace-making and building unity with others. When others hurt, we hurt with them. When others are oppressed, we stand up with them and for them. We must pursue what builds others up and brings peace. Pursue! That is an active word, right? There is something to do when we take up solidarity with others.

I watched a YouTube video of an interview with Larycia Hawkins, who became the first female African-American tenured professor at Wheaton College in 2013. She was placed on administrative leave after she posted a photo of herself wearing a Hajib on her personal Facebook page. She did this to show solidarity with women Muslims who were up against rising ethnic tensions at the time. 

Something she said at the end of the interview struck me as something I need to address. She said, “All of life is sacred. I think you all think that you think that, but I don’t think you do because you send your kids to private schools so they don’t have to go to school with the poor black and brown kids. I would challenge you to rethink all of your commitments through the lens of every child is your child.”

I am reading and learning more and more about what it means to be antiracist, but have I really looked at my life—my decision and commitments—through the lens of true solidarity?

Sometimes, changing your lifestyle to reflect solidarity is hard. Sometimes it causes us to sacrifice. But isn’t that what Jesus teaches? He came to serve, not to be served. Take up your cross and follow Him. I’m not saying we must all move into neighborhoods different from ours or pull our kids out of private school. But I do think we need to reexamine our lives through the lens of solidarity. We need to take a look at everything through the lens of peace and unity with others—especially those who are different than us.

Let’s Pray: Father God, help me to see with Your eyes. Open my heart to the needs of those around me who are struggling under oppression, discrimination, and hate. I need to see the world through the lens of Your heart. Help me to bring unity and peace to those around me. Help me to be a person of solidarity in this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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, August 22, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Bible-based Message for the Hearts of Strong Black Women

Breathe, Martha, Breathe!
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”
— Luke 10:41-42 (TPT)

Am I strong because I have been able to live through circumstances that should have caused me to lose my mind, or did I just not have a choice? Black women are known for being strong, right?

For years, we have been known for carrying all the burdens of our lives and those around us and still smile and be supportive of those who we love and serve. Rarely do you hear us admit we do not know if we can go on any further or that we just want to give up. We have been known for doing the work no matter what the circumstance.

I found myself crying to God the other day after a situation combined with other situations caused me to feel helpless and for a day or so, a bit hopeless if I am being honest. As a Black mother and wife, I have the added stress of looking at the news and seeing the headlines of a Georgia mom who claims the school she wanted her daughter to go to is being segregated, or how the right to vote could potentially be taken away from those whose skin color is anything but White, or the countless number of stories where police took extreme measures against people of color in situations that did not warrant it.

The real issue is that we have been too busy being labeled as Martha when we should consider ourselves and live our lives as Mary. The world’s issues of race and politics in addition to our everyday life stressors, is enough to make you go crazy and lose focus on the person at the center of our lives who is Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew that worries and cares of Martha. Yet he explained that they were not going anywhere. He said that the focus still needed to be on Him, and the time spent in His presence.

Jesus knows that we are in historical times in our country (especially as people of color), but He does not want us to ever get away from the fact that He is what truly matters. Doing things His way, that fighting His way and defending His way is what we are called to do.

The world will continue to have race debates and discrimination until the day Jesus returns. Therefore, we should continue putting our hands to the plow and forging our way forward as long as we remember who we are doing it for (it’s all for Jesus).

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, we come to you humbly and boldly, repenting of our sins and asking for forgiveness. Help us to stay focused on you as we stand up against racial discrimination. Let us remember to keep You, Your words, and Your ways as our main focal point. We never want to get so wrapped up in all around us that we miss what You want to impart in us in our intimate time with You. Thank you, God, for loving us and reminding us of what matters. In Jesus’s Name we 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.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Strong Enough to Know When to Stop and Protect Your Health

Strength, Self-Care, and A Life Lesson for Black Women
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

A few weeks ago Simone Biles, an American artistic gymnast who has won 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, did something most of us have never had the courage to do. What many called selfish, stupid and wrong I saw as bravery.

While the entire world was watching, Simone unapologetically made a decision to choose something more important than a gold medal—she decided to choose herself. According to CNN, Biles withdrew from the women’s team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, citing mental health concerns as she attempts to protect “her body and mind.”

The choice Biles made to put her health first resonates me in a deeply profound way because in the African American community, Black women historically have been raised to put everyone and everything before themselves. From the time they are born the idea surrounding their value is steeped in what they can do or have, and not around who they are.

They are trained to give to the point of exhaustion and hold everyone else as more important. This misinterpretation of selflessness has been detrimental to the Black woman for centuries.

With mental health discussions on the rise, many who’ve battled with mental illness or mental and emotional stresses in the Church, have been told they can pray it away or told, “You need more faith!” These words have caused some to reject therapy and or medication. Within the African community, counseling or therapy was seen as taboo. Even the Black church in time passed turned their noses up to the idea of help beyond praying and traveling.

I know this personally as a close friend of mine for years avoided a diagnosis because the ministry she attended told her to trust God. After years of back and forth stays at hospitals and a final episode where she went missing for days, she let wisdom through the Holy Spirit lead her to find a Christian psychologist who prescribed her what she needed.

We as the Bride of Christ must understand there are spiritual and natural sides to everything. To ignore one is dangerous. Jesus Christ lived on this Earth and dealt with evil spirits and the worries of men. He was moved with compassion knowing the complexities of humanity and our deep need for saving. God has always been our protector and provider. In all things we must get understanding and use wisdom. Seeing a doctor, having surgery, or taking medicine doesn’t make you faithless.

As an African-American woman, I have felt unseen and devalued constantly. I know the pressures to be perfect and to stand out amongst a crowd who doesn’t always think you matter. This can be a heavy weight too carry alone. And though we have the Holy Spirit to help us, God has also prepared people to walk with us through releasing trauma and facing our own fears and fragility. God cares about our physical and spiritual health.

In closing, I’d like for you to read this message from God found in 3 John 1:2 (TPT), which says, “Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.”

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for caring about all aspects of our health (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual). Thank you for always understanding our fragility and being there for us no matter what we face in this life here on Earth. Please continue to equip us to walk the path You’ve set for us. When we feel weary and like we cannot move forward, strengthen us and carry us until we’re strong enough to walk on our own two feet with You by our side. Thank You that you will never leave us. Please help us to trust You. 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.

Connect with Kai:


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Upholding the Oppressed

Called to Uphold the Oppressed
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 am a racial reconciler. Networking and bringing races together is what I’m called to do. As a reconciler I live in community with a diverse group of people who I am grateful to call friends.

What I’ve learned about being a reconciler is there is a cost. Whether Black or White, friends and family often don’t understand the call. Especially in times when we’re in seasons of racial tension they don’t always get it. It is in these times, that it most brings me joy to move about doing the work of God with different races, ethnicities and cultures, of God’s people.

As a Black American, I have often been confronted with the question, “Am I a Christian who happens to be Black or am a Black Christian?”

I used to struggle with the question and at times felt conflicted to even try to answer. Today, not only do I not struggle with the answer, I finally realized it’s a question I don’t have to answer. I am a Black woman. I am a Christian. Most importantly, I am a container of God’s voice, striving to be all of who I am. As a Black woman blessed with a gift to write and speak and teach, I carry the responsibility to share my gifts in social, cultural and academic contexts. As a Christian woman I carry the responsibility to speak God’s word and to teach God’s people. No matter where or when I speak, I hope to be a vessel of God’s love. In whatever context, I have decided that whether to Black or White people, I will speak. Whoever has a voice, let him or her hear.

I recently had an encounter that called for a reckoning with a young Black man who was obviously inebriated, mentally challenged and oppressed. While friends and I were walking and talking on the way to our destination, the young man stopped and asked me why I was with them. (I quickly assumed he meant my White friends). I said, “They're my friends.”

This young man then told me they're the enemy. He called them “White devils” and told me that I shouldn't be with them. He began calling them very derogatory names. He looked at my friend’s daughter and called her “Karen”. He said that all she had to do was to start crying and a Black man would go to jail. He then accused me of not caring about him as a Black man, because I was friends with them. He was irate and angry. He was obviously oppressed. 

Of course, we were all shaken and I could've followed as they walked away, but I knew I couldn't. My friends continued walking which they should've, but as wrong as he was, I knew I had to address him. More importantly, I needed to acknowledge his pain. I knew that as much as he needed reprimanding, he also needed to be shown God's love.

In my study of God’s word, I have noticed the intersection between the use of the word “oppression” when discussing the plight of Black people in this country and its use in scripture. Acts 10:37-38 says that Jesus was anointed to heal the oppressed. In relation to the pain and plight of African-Americans, I believe it will take the anointing and grace of God for America to heal from the sin of racism.

I could've argued to try to prove to the young man that I knew the history of White supremacy and why as Black Americans, we’re in the situation we're in. Instead, I quietly prayed and got him calmed enough to talk to him about God's love. I reminded him that God loved him and has a purpose for his life. I told him that if he wanted to ever see it fulfilled, the one thing he needed to do was to allow God's grace to help him to forgive.

I explained to him that we cannot blame every White person for racism. Most importantly, I reminded him that if he wanted to continue to live, he'd better think twice before walking up to White women saying the things he did to my friends. Thank God my friend’s daughter wasn’t a "Karen" or he would've been dead! I had to be very hard on him because he's convinced himself he doesn't care. Sadly, he feels it doesn't matter if he lives or dies.

Thankfully, I was able to get John (I asked his name) to finally settle. Like a child, he actually sat down on the ground and crossed his legs Indian style while looking up at me as I continued to talk to him. I took the time to encourage him to seek the Lord to help him to stop drinking. From what I’d learned about the demographics in Seattle, I’m almost certain that John was homeless. Because the liquor was definitely in control, I’m not sure how much he'll remember about what I said.

As a Black woman, I could empathize with his oppression. More importantly, I realized that he was oppressed not only as a Black man, but also, although created in God’s image, one who was also spiritually oppressed. As a Black man trying to survive in a society that makes him feel like he has nothing to lose or to live for, I could see the trauma that has grown roots inside him. I could see the hopelessness in his eyes. In the end, John gently grabbed my hand and kissed it.

No matter what color. No matter what socio-economic status. When given the opportunity in the midst of a Divine moment, what do you think you would do? As a Black Christian woman called to uphold the cause of the oppressed, hopefully I did what Jesus would do.

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, August 1, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Perspective

This Hour’s Perspective
A guest post written by Stephanie Bankhead

Violence, disunity and death pervade the hour we are in. When this hour is over, what do I want to be able to say my posture was? When I look back in 10 years from now, 20 years — or even when I’m gone from here and living in the next life looking back — what do I want to be able to say about how I handled myself?

If the past eighteen months was the final answer, I would have to say that I was anxious and distracted. I allowed the madness of the world be the loudest voice in my heart and mind. But I do not want that to be my story.

One of the most eye-opening situations has been my inability to keep my focus on the Lord. Prior to March 2020, I would have told you that my relationship with God was deep, full and meaningful. I would have told you that I trusted God and followed closely to Jesus and His teaching. Along came 2020.

Fear became the dominant emotion and anxiety followed closely as well. I was surprised at how I was reacting to the situation. The old me would have said I wanted a “do-over,” but NO WAY do I want to experience any of this all over again.

Over a year later, my faith still feels terribly shallow. My thoughts are scattered. I can’t seem to go more than 15 minutes without getting on Facebook or checking my news app. Why? In complete candor, I really don’t know. Speculation swirls in my mind. The unknown is scary. Remember the old saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?” Maybe that is my underlying reason. Do I think that if I know all the facts that I won’t be as scared? If that’s the case, it’s not true. The facts scare me.

So where is God in all this? My relationship with Him feels like a miles long river that is only a few inches deep.


My heart’s desire is to be deeper with God. To know and love Him with all my heart. To be sold out for Jesus and His way. In a recent Bible study, it was mentioned that during first century Israel the disciple of a rabbi would be expected to follow the rabbi everywhere he went. The idea was to follow so closely the dust from the rabbi’s shoes would get all over the disciple.

That is exactly how I want my life to be defined, by the dust of Jesus’ shoes. How does that happen?

First of all, the noise has to be stopped. I have taken breaks from social media, and certainly from the news. That has helped. I’m also making exercise and sleep a priority. I found an app that reads bedtime stories to me while I drift off to sleep. And I’m keeping this one verse at the forefront of my mind.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”— Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

There’s my answer. This Bible verse (
Matthew 6:33) unequivocally answers my questions.

Seek God first and above everything else. Trust God to handle the rest.

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.