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"Go Out Into the Hedges and Highways"

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One Tuesday morning I woke up a 36 year old African American woman and 4 hours later became a 75 year old white male. How? I participated in training on poverty. I quickly settled into my new identity because I had a new life to live and I had to survive in my new reality. I was asked to leave my true identity at the door and mentally become another person. The requirement to take on a new identity was part of the rules of engagement for this poverty simulation. We had to put ourselves in the place of real people. We had to live their reality. We had to endure the struggles they encountered daily just to meet our basic needs. We spent our "days" and "weeks" going from one place to another trying to care for our family. Our community was comprised of businesses, community agencies, and a place of worship. When the whistle blew in the room it began and ended our day. It was organized chaos. It was a room full of people frantically moving about to pay their bills, goi…

Sexual Bondage...If I Only Knew

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Can I introduce you to Samara* She's a lady I saw for a split second, but through my friend she slipped me a couple pages of notes to share with me a snippet of her life. Samara is a resident of a transformative community I volunteer for named Butterflies15. Samara wishes she could turn back the hands of time…just for a moment…just for a second. If she could have just a moment of her life back she would make a different decision. She wouldn't have stepped into that car…not that car…not that car with that person.
Samara writes to her younger self…
I'm writing you this letter to warn you…to warn you about that warm August day as you were walking home. You had made up your mind to walk, but when that person pulled up and offered you a ride…you let your tired feet and hot body take a seat in his car. Why walk when you can ride? After all I know him…or least I thought I did…
You see he looked so harmless, so why not get in? I mean it's not like I was hitch-hiking…I know him…
Wh…

Holy Ground

"Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy.
Else we may find ourselves treading on men’s dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival. 
We have to try to sit where they sit, to enter sympathetically into the pains and grieves and joys of their history and see how those pains and griefs and joys have determined the premises of their argument. 
We have, in a word, to be ‘present’ with them.” 
 ~The Columbian Fathers

Dying to Live

Yesterday I attended a training on Latino culture. One of the topics covered included illegal immigration. We watched a film entitled, "Dying to Live: A Migrants Journey" In this video, a father described the pain he felt when his daughter looked at him and cried, "Daddy I'm hungry. Can I have something to eat?" The father describes how helpless he was because not only did they not have any food, but he also didn't have any money to buy food. Can you imagine?

I often get frustrated with my son because he will play with his food and throw it on the floor when he's done with it. I do not like wasting food because I've traveled to countries where people often have very little to eat. While I need to teach my son about the blessing of having food, I also need to be grateful that he has more than enough.

I certainly don't have all the answers to address the immigration problem in the US. However, I do know I felt emotionally paralyzed when I saw the …

5 Tips for Staying in Leadership in TryingTimes

Amanda Berry Smith was a wife, mother, preacher, singer, and missionary in Liberia, Sierre Leone, and other parts of Africa. She was strong, gifted, and admired by many. She was considered a mighty warrior for God's kingdom and one clergyman, Marshall W. Taylor, even proclaimed she was, "a Christian of the highest type." Amanda preached in England, Ireland, Scotland, India, and Africa. She even founded an orphanage in Harvey, Illinois, for abandoned and destitute African American children. I'm amazed at the many works she accomplished for the kingdom of God. I'm even more amazed that she accomplished these tasks in the face of suffering. Smith became a widow twice. She gave birth to five children and four of them died young. After her second husband died, she became a single mother. She was alone, grieving, disappointed, and suffering. Yet, she was a powerhouse in the body of Christ. She did not lose heart. She continued to serve the Lord no matter what she face…

A Reflection for Child Abuse Prevention Month

The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I've been thinking of ways child abuse can be prevented. As I reflect on this continuous problem, I think of the countless stories of adults who have walked away from the faith because they had "Christian" parents or other "Christians" who abused them. If I'm honest, most of the abusers were leaders in the church.             They lamented, "My dad would preach an amazing sermon at church, then come home and beat me and my mom." Or, "We went to church every time the doors were open, but when we were home, my dad would call us horrendous names." "My mom could quote almost every word in the bible, but would beat me bloody almost once a week." I could go on and on with the stories.             I can't forget that one night I sat in the car with my friend Laura*. We sat for hours telling me about how her grandpa, the pastor, raped her countless times—except she didn't cal…

Room for One More?

Since being a teenager, I've always had a heart for children. When I was in college, I spent afternoons at the local community center helping children with homework and playing in the daily Juice Bowl. The Juice Bowl was the daily sports game—football or basketball—where all the kids who went the after-school program could compete for juice. I loved these children. I can think of one of the little boys now, showing me his new crossover move. The more time I spent time there, the more time I worked with other college students to come up with ideas to meet all the needs of the children. We led school supply drives, food drives, and I even convinced my friend Calvin to be a positive male mentor to the boys. It didn't take much convincing. He was hooked from the start. Over the years, I have worked in many capacities as an attorney to advocate for the rights and protection of children. I have also served in ministry in the local community and traveled as far as Ghana, West Africa t…