1. The Gospel is Never at Stake. A Few Words on Orthodoxy, Christian Unity, and Not Being a Big Jerk
I saw a quote from a Christian leader yesterday, one that I respect despite disagreeing with some of his doctrine. It contained the words “At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Whoa, hold up. I’m not a scholar or a theologian, but I can tell you one thing: The gospel of Jesus Christ is never at stake. The gospel, the good news, is that Jesus came to reconcile us to God and one another. That he took on flesh, was born, lived, and died. Then he rose again, and ascended into heaven where he is interceding for us. That happened. That last bit is still happening. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you or I or all the powers of hell could do to diminish, threaten, or put that good news “at stake...continue reading
2. White Privilege Weariness
I am standing in the infamous white privilege line. Our class has answered all the activity's questions one by one. As usual the White participants are grouped at one end of the room, the Black and Latino participants at the other end. In between stands a handful of Asian participants. The facilitator asks a series of questions, mostly directed at the group of White participants. Their conversation continues... and continues... and continues. After a few minutes, I notice all of our bodies have naturally turned to reinforce the focus of the conversation between the White participants. The people of color form a quiet outer circle, glancing at each other as the conversation continues largely without us. One of the young women next me raises her hand; she is too far away to be noticed. Remaining unseen, she gives up. As she lowers her hand, I suddenly become very weary...continue reading 
3. 101 culturally diverse Christian voices
“I’m just tired of only hearing white, mainstream evangelical voices,” a good friend lamented to me recently. “Why aren’t voices from other backgrounds listened to in the same way as the white voices?” I heard the weariness of consistent exclusion in his question, and frankly, wondered the same thing myself...continue reading
4. Hearts of Flesh
Fundamentalism erases people. I’ve watched as men once alive with ideas and passion surrender their curiosity and intellectual integrity to conform to the ideological boundaries that will let them keep their jobs. I’ve seen women literally shrink—a pound at a time, a dream at a time—as they conform their bodies and their spirits to a strict ideal, as they try to make themselves acceptably small. I’ve seen the light go out in people’s eyes when they decide it’s safer to embrace a doctrine or a policy that their gut tells them is wrong than it is to challenge those who say it’s right...continue reading
5. In Order To Abolish Abortion
A few months ago I was taken to task by a few folks for not being more proactive in using my influence in raising the deep tragedies around the issue of abortion. Some of these dear folks, who I have deep respect for, would take me to task right now for using the word abortion instead of stating it as, the senseless murder of thousands of innocent children daily within the womb. Some even believe that to label yourself as “Pro-life” is too soft and that “abolitionist” is a better term to use. This is actually connected to my being taken to task for talking about working to reduce abortion in the US instead of working to abolish abortion all together. Well, because of all this, I decided to share some reflections which give clarity to my position on this very divisive, yet important issue. I don’t expect readers to agree with me and I might be taken to task yet again for even sharing these reflections...continue reading 

1. Urban Church P̶l̶a̶n̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ Plantations
Last week I had the honor of meeting with a group of urban pastors who’ve devoted their lives to serving Buffalo, NY. While discussing the challenges they encountered while doing urban ministry in a predominantly non-white, socio-economically oppressed[ii] city, the black, Hispanic and Asian pastors with whom I met raised a familiar issue, one that I’ve heard and witnessed all over the country. Same story, different city...continue reading
2. i-Lust and Other Confessions in a Millennial World
I lust. The words almost seem like they could be a tagline for a new Apple product — an appropriate image perhaps for a generation that is glued to our smart phones. Or perhaps the words are better suited in a kind of Descartes revolution for the 21st century, “I lust, therefore I am.” In either scenario, the words are an accurate reflection of the inescapable truth that lust is consuming all of our lives...continue reading
3. Living with 'An Illegal:' How a Friendship Changed My Perspective on Immigration
I don’t know what came over me. Was it what Noel Castellanos (CEO of CCDA) had said? What Jim Wallis (President of Sojourners) had said? Perhaps. I couldn’t keep the tears from coming. Walking up Broadway Street in Los Angeles in the middle of a Saturday afternoon as a crowd of people blew horns, held signs, and chanted, “Immigration reform now,” I wept. It was because of Ivone. I was even wearing my Faith is Greater Than Fear shirt but lurking along the sidewalk, not intending to get involved. But it's too late for that. I love Ivone like a sister; I’m already knee-deep in it...continue reading  
4. #Fast4Families Bus Presses on in Week 4 of Tour
Entering its fourth week on the road, the Fast for Families bus continues its journey across the country getting closer to its final destination: Washington, D.C. on April 9. Continuing the call for fair and humane immigration reform, fasters visited Arlington, Texas last week on the southern trail, connecting with members of Congress who shared their goals for immigration reform...continue reading
5. Reconciliation Replay (March 20, 2014)
highlighting the best reconciliation words around...continue reading
Fifty-one floors up. City Club LA. Beautiful view of downtown Los Angeles in the background. Freshly sliced oranges and strawberries alongside blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Wine, cocktails, and Hor d'oeurves. Who would've thought this would be the setting for a discussion on suffering? But this was exactly the scenario I found myself in one Friday night a few weeks ago.

I don't remember the initial direction the conversation was meant to go in, but about 20 minutes into it the topic had shifted to finding redemptive value in our suffering. Being on the top floor of a skyscraper overlooking the Staples Center (home to the Los Angeles Lakers) was definitely not a familiar place for me, although, I could get used to it. What was familiar about that night was that I was in a room filled with White folk (approximately 120) and I was the only Black male.

One by one these individuals began to share their stories about the catastrophic occurrences they had witnessed while doing mission and charity work in Latin American and Sub-Saharan African nations in hopes that the two-speaker panel leading the discussion could help them make sense of it. My first thought was, "Man, there is enough White guilt in here that even a Florida jury would convict someone." But then I began to seriously wonder why these White individuals knew so much about the problems of people of color.

In no way am I trying to downplay the work that many of these individuals have done for marginalized and poor people in high risk communities because I believe these individuals are well intended. However, from a room that embodied both the very essence of privilege and the way that we in the West like to involve ourselves in struggle (from a far and comfortable place), every word spoken started to sound like Western triumphalism and American exceptionalism. It has been my experience that White folk's, particularly White Evangelical Christian's desire to go and "solve" other people's problems implies three things: (1) White Evangelicals (and America) have no problems of their own; (2) nothing indigenous is being done to provide a solution wherever the White Evangelical sees a problem; (3) White Evangelical Christians possess either the best solution or the only solution.

Too often are poor and oppressed people (especially people of color) regarded as threats here in America, while poor and oppressed people in other countries are viewed as victims. This type of perspective is dehumanizing to people here and to people abroad. To overlook the problems here and to focus on issues elsewhere sends the message that poor and oppressed American's problems are either insignificant, unimportant, or non urgent and at the same time it leads to the objectification of the "exotic other."

I've seldom come across a mission group or charity organization that submitted to the leadership of indigenous people, rather they import their own ideas and solutions. The imposition of White Evangelical Christians is evidence of a "Savior complex" that has been deeply embedded in Western Christianity for centuries. That is just one of several issues I have with short term missions (for more reasons read here).

What bothered me the most that particular Friday night was the fact that those poor and oppressed people who had actually been through suffering and felt real despair were not present to tell their own stories. It seemed as though people wanted to make sense out of the things they saw so that they themselves could be comforted and so they could have their own sorrows alleviated.

If White Evangelical Christians truly care about issues that plague poor and oppressed people they will not see them as an "abstract category, but as unique persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived, and cheated"; they will seek to understand how their privilege and imposition perpetuates a system both here in America and in other countries that has been broken for centuries; they will not undermine indigenous efforts; they will have long term commitments to particular people groups and cultures and immerse themselves in a way that leads to a better understanding; they will stand beside or even behind indigenous leadership; they will lend their resources instead of their ideas to indigenous ministries; and they will take heed to the words of Paulo Friere: "when oppressors join in the struggle for liberation they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin...which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know. They believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them...A real humanist can be identified more by his/her trust in the people, which engages him/her in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust...leaders cannot think about the people, or for the people, but only with the people."

1. and the beat got sicka
On my nightstand :At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. This book is incredible, and I'm only a few chapters in. A painful (and potentially triggering) read, certainly, but it tells a crucial side to the civil rights movement that is largely missing from popular history, illuminating many of the activists, newspapers, and organizations that fought tirelessly against sexualized violence and for racial justice. Many thanks to Austin Channing Brown who tweeted the NPR piece on Parks' activism that led me to track it down...continue reading
Drew, along with pastoral ministry, is also a PhD student at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in Theology & Ethics. His research is focused on the intersection of Black theology and Anabaptism. Drew regularly speaks at churches and conferences, confronting racism, systemic oppression, and violence, while continually pleading with Christians to take a stand. Drew is committed to a life that struggles to take Jesus seriously while following him into the world...continue reading
It's time to stop talking about what we are giving up for Lent--or judging those who do--and start pressing into Lent quietly and in expectation of God's reward. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day which marks the beginning of Lent for many in the Christian tradition. Over the next 40 days, many will observe a period of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting from things ranging from certain types of food and television to shopping and social media...continue reading
Why are young people uninterested in attending church, specifically young people with no recent family history of attending church? In many urban centers similar to where I grew up, churches are dealing with one or possibly two generations of un-churched teens and young adults. Their grandparents went to church, their parents went occasionally, and now this generation hardly goes, if at all...continue reading
When theological push comes to shove and I’m pressed into a theological category, I call myself an Anabaptist. Being an Anabaptist means I place a premium on personal piety, the importance of the church, the individual’s right to choose faith for themselves, the centrality of baptism, and the non-coersive, power-sacrificing nature of God, but mostly, it means I spend time explaining what an Anabaptist is...continue reading
The response to the passing of Germina Cruz has been overwhelmingly sad to say the least. She touched so many lives in such a short time. She hasn't escaped my thoughts once since I received the news of her passing.

There are many people who were a lot closer to Germina than I was. I offer to them my prayers and condolences. I also send my prayers to her family and to the friends and family of Kerry Benson (the young man who also died in the car accident). 

My dad shared a few words with me during a phone conversation that uplifted my spirit in a way that I think would make Germina smile. He has been able to observe the amount of grief just through his connections to people our age on Facebook. From the pictures people posted to the stories they captioned them with, it was easy for him to get a sense of the type of person she was. Germina was sweet, caring, kind, joyful, upbeat, life of the party, and beautiful. God gives everyone a race to run. My dad reassured me that although her race was short, she had ran it as best as possible. In the end it will be her life, her energy, her spirit, and the memories we created with her that impacts us rather than the loss of her. 

I'm thankful for your life, our friendship, and for the moments we spent together, though they were few and far between. Your life taught me a lot about the type of race I hope to run. You are a champion in God's kingdom. God bless you Germz, you will be missed.

Anisha Linton has started a fundraising project to help pay for the memorial services. It has reached its goal but if you would still like to donate you can here.

Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
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