#TalkJustice

This Decisive Hour

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Have you read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”  I would encourage everyone to read the letter in its entirety, it’s transformative.

I’m in Birmingham because injustice is here.”

He shares his disappointment in the overall silence of the church, fearful of being disturbers of the peace.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.”

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

For the last year, I have been a part of the Be the Bridge community. I highly recommend their resources on racial reconciliation from a Christian perspective.

While in this community in a small group, or through the Facebook forum I am a part of I listen. This is what I hear. Our silence is deafening and painful.

These are difficult times we are a part of. Speaking, standing. No, they are not easy. I feel we have had the luxury of sitting out for too long. People of color have known these truths. The ugly language and ideas that shock our hearts are not new to them. For this, we must lament. We must get up and stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Social justice does not need to be political. Social justice is the work of Jesus. Redeeming and reconciling.

No more silence. There is injustice here.

 

One of my favorite quotes comes from Lupita Nyong’o best-supporting actress win in 2014.

No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Not only dreams but lives.

To God, each life is valid, extraordinary and needful.

Open

Happy New Year!

For the last five years, I have picked one word for the year through #oneword365. Every year I have chosen kneel as the posture I hoped to take in my walk with God. This year I felt the truth of kneeling, but still keeping my hands clenched tightly.

 

Over break, I read Steven Pressfield’s book Do the Work.

Resistance finds us in:

Fear, Self-doubt, Procrastination, Addiction, Distraction, Timidity, Ego, Self-Loathing, Perfectionism

I see myself in so many of these. Hand clenched.

 

I long to open my hands to God.

My fear, my self-doubt, my timidity, my perfectionism leads me to surface living.

Slow progress. Digging deep. Wrestling. Struggling. All these bring depth.

 

All the hope and dreams of this coming year I want to hold with open hands to God.

What- one word- might bring you hope and direction this new year? 

Talk Justice Together December 2017 Edition

Happy Advent Season! Talk justice together this month of December.

Social Justice: Author Sarah Thebarge shares a story from her medical training work in South Sudan. Love Runs In. How can your family run in for others? 

Creation Care: A changing climate. A deeply moving photographic exhibition from the United Nations Development Programme. Discuss the changes our planet and people face.

Refugees: What they bring to the tableWhat ethnic food does your family enjoy most? 

Innovation: Check out the finalists in the MacArthur Foundation 100&change competition. Each finalist and semifinalist program features a video of the life-saving work they are doing globally. What program sparks your imagination? 

Access to Education: A Syrian boy wins the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize for starting a school at a refugee camp in Lebanon when he was just twelve years old.

Immigrants and Refugees: An Advent Prayer. 

Hunger: The new face of hunger in the United States. What surprised you? 

Disability: Healthcare professionals with disabilities make a difference.

Access to Education: A symphony of broken instruments. Love, hope and the importance of arts in education.

Race: 5 lessons from multiethnic youth ministry.  What lesson resonates with you? 

 

2017 Fair Trade Gift Ideas

Christmas 2017 Fair Trade Shopping Guide  

Hoping to make a difference with your gift giving?

Purchasing fair trade through global artisans allows them to support their families and invest back into their businesses and communities.

Here are 100 gift ideas that give back!

For Women

  • Aprons from Imagine Goods made in Cambodia.
  • African Proverb Bookmarks supporting Kenya through the Grain of Rice Project.
  • Bags from FEED projects feeding families globally.
  • Bracelets from 31 Bits empowering Ugandan women making jewelry from paper beads.
  • Divine Chocolate from Serrv supporting farmers from Ghana.
  • Jewelry from the Brave Collection supporting survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia.
  • Jewelry from Noonday empowering artisans and interweaving ambassadors to connect consumers and artisans.
  • Ribbon Sandals from Sseko supporting women in Uganda.
  • Sari throw blankets from Sari Bari supporting women exploited through sex trafficking.
  • Scarves from FashionABLE supporting women who overcome.
  • Scarves from 1000 Shillings supporting sustainable business for women in Uganda.
  • Scarves from Lesouque.
  • Scrubs providing another for a global healthcare worker from FIGS
  • Shea Skin Care Line from Bread for Life helping women in poverty become self-sustaining entrepreneurs.
  • Shoes from Teysha, artisans from Guatemala.
  • Shoes from the Root Collective supporting artisans in Guatemala.
  • Stationary from To The Market supporting global survivors.
  • Tea from Mighty Leaf working with partners around the world.
  • Yoga Mats from prAna fair trade materials and giving back through Outdoor Outreach.

For Home:

For Men:

  • Clothing from Fair Trade Winds supporting global artisans.
  • Coffee from Cafe Campesino a coffee cooperative based in Georgia.
  • Earbuds providing hearing devices for those in need.
  • Flying Discs from One World Fair Trade.
  • Globetrotter Journal from Fairtrade Winds.
  • Grilling Gifts from Uncommon Goods.  
  • Ipod Cases from Enrou handcrafted by global artisans.
  • Men’s Hats from Krochet Kids supporting women artisans from areas of poverty.
  • Outerwear from Apolis supporting global artisans.
  • Socks buy a pair = donate a pair from Bombas.
  • Socks that fight homelessness.
  • Sunglasses from SOLVE contributing to clean water initiatives.
  • Ties from Bull + Moose helping veterans.
  • Watches that give microloans.
  • Wine from OneHope.

For Children:

For Teens:

Talk Justice Together November 2017

Happy November!

A month to pause and take time to talk justice together in thanksgiving for all that is hopeful in our world.

Poverty: Tools for childhood trauma from Sesame Street. A new video series gives children tools for dealing with traumatic experiences whether a natural disaster or abuse, neglect, mental illness or poverty.

Poverty: When a kindergartener secures milk for her entire classroom. #bethechange

Clean Water: 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao invents a better, faster way to test lead levels in drinking water in response to the Flint Water Crisis. Dream big.

Refugees: A Doctors Without Borders exhibit called “Flee from Home” uses virtual reality and 360-degree video to share the story of refugees. A Syrian artist and architect build dioramas out of suitcases to bring awareness to the homes refugees leave behind.

Health Care: A National Geographic Report on the importance of vaccinations for developing nations.

Creation Care: Have you ever wondered how climate change actually affects people? Learn about how climate change impacts women and girls on the island of Fiji. Take time to view these stunning photographs of how climate change affects families around the world.

Access to Education: Lal Chandra Pandey started a rebellion to stop child marriage and open up access to education for girls like herself in Nepal.

Hunger: Food insecurity and health. 

Disability: How Ikea is opening up inclusive play for children around the world with their campaign “Let’s Play for Change.”

Clean Water and Sanitation: Did you know November 19 is World Toilet Day? 

As you plan your Christmas shopping don’t forget November 28, 2017, is Giving Tuesday!

What did your family talk about this month? We can’t wait to hear your insights! 

 

Talk Justice Together October 2017 Edition

Happy Fall! Here are ten ways to talk justice together this month:

Electricity: The difference something as small as electricity makes.

Hunger: Eliminating food deserts with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.

Hunger: Using coalitions, strategy, and thoughtfulness to bridge the hunger gap in NYC with culturally appropriate foods. What do you think of these innovative ideas?

Climate: Seventeen questions and answers worth a read. Learn more about the changing climate and creation care.

Education and Girls: Thanks for this great find Amy Sullivan! An eight-year-old entomologist– with access to education we can all reach our dreams!

Disability: A theme park designed for people with disabilities. Gordon Hartman created the “world’s first ultra-accessible theme park” for his daughter Morgan. What parts of the theme park stand out to you?

Refugees: Thirty-seven photographs of the refugee crisis. The most striking part? These are from a 2015 article… they could just as well be from 2017. The refugee crisis stretches on with further suffering. How can we make a difference?

Literacy: The Echo Refugee Library– a mini-van bringing access to the displaced.

Film: Three documentaries that will change the way your children see the world. Have you watched any with your family?

Race: A photographer recreates the 1,400-mile route along the Underground Railroad. Through Darkness to Light. 

How will your family Talk Justice this October? 

Summer Talk Justice Events

We are so excited for Summer Talk Justice 2017!

Tuesday, July 25 from 6:30-7:30 pm
at Benjamin’s Hope (located at 15468 Riley St.)

Benjamin’s Hope is a community where everyone belongs. The residents will be welcoming us to learn about the mission of Benjamin’s Hope, play lawn games, show us their garden and barn, and share popsicles.

This is a wonderful way for us to support adults with developmental disabilities and build community.

We can bless Benjamin’s Hope by bringing:
*Paper Products (toilet paper, paper towel, Kleenex)
*Bubbles
*Simple Puzzles (50 pc. less)
*Coloring Books and Crayons

Tuesday, August 1 from 6:30-7:30 pm 
at Kollen Park (area east of the public restrooms) 

Supporting Health Care and Childhood Cancer through
Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. 

We will read about Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s story, share lemonade, make a community prayer braid and play together!

We can bless these organizations by bringing:
$1.00 per family for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

for Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan
(most needed items)
*paper towels
*Clorox Wipes
*children’s toys

We would be so honored if you would join us! Grab a group and come make a difference!

Keep updated at our Facebook Event Page. 

 

Kids Talk Justice May Edition

Let’s talk justice together as we move into summer! Congratulations to all who conquered another school year, not for the faint of heart!

Hunger: When a Grandmother’s gift multiplies. How does educating others play a role in the success of this business that gives back? 

Clean Water: Have you checked out Use it Wisely with your family? Over 100 ideas to conserve water in your home.

Education: In Pakistan, 88,000 child brick laborers are given access to school. What do you think of that number of children working in harsh conditions?

Refugees: The refugee crisis in Europe is reviving churches. Are those that fear refugees missing an opportunity?

Human Trafficking: Children on the move as unaccompanied refugees are at a heightened risk for being trafficked. #childrenuprooted

Restorative Justice: A modern day Harriet Tubman. A truly extraordinary story of redemption and a call to look at the prison system through new eyes.

Poverty: Check out this photo essay of the women and children of Chad. How does exploring a new place and culture expand our sense of justice?

Homelessness and Sustainability: A refugee makes homes and provides jobs from recycled plastic bottles. What do you think of this creative practice?

Creation Care: Mangroves in Madagascar, what do you think of their ideas to protect the new trees?

Poverty: The real people facing budget cuts to Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, and rural water development. Everyone has a story.

How did you talk justice this month? 

 

 

Kids Talk Justice April Edition

How can you talk justice together this month?

Hunger: Take the Waste It or Take It Quiz with your family. For every quiz taken a meal it donated through Feeding America.

Education: Scroll through pictures of girls attending school all around the world. Access = Hope.

Innovation: In Lagos, Nigeria tricycles provide a vehicle for recycling and income for wecyclers.

Literacy: Explore photographs of readers around the world because literacy opens up doors.

Conflict and Refugees: The pebble artwork of Nizar Ali Badr depicting the war in Syria and the journey of refugees. What makes these images so moving? What do they teach us about war and displacement? 

Creation Care: Practice the art of enough. Read the article together and pick one of the challenges to try as a family.

Elderly: Sign a petition to save funding for Meals on Wheels fighting hunger for the elderly. Talk about why the elderly are a vulnerable people group.

Health Care and Recycling: Unused hotel soap bars are recycled into new soap used by NGOs and organizations like the Red Cross to promote health care globally. What do you think? 

Conflict: Photographs out of Syria continue to break out hearts. Consider the work of The White Helmets and The Preemptive Love Coalition.

Restorative Justice and Everyday Heroes: An everyday hero fighting for hope and justice that restores.

don’t look away

My friend Amy Sullivan just released her third book in the Gutsy Girls series Fanny Crosby.

You might know that she wrote over 1,000 hymns, many under pseudonym, all without her sight. What you might not know about this extraordinary woman was her servant’s heart. Among the endless lists of ways she served, including giving away most of her money, she choose to live in one of the poorest tenements in New York City. My favorite part of the book is the picture of the crowded building she called home. She lived in proximity to those in need.

In Amy’s books she shares the definition of gutsy: showing determination when your heart beats fast, your hands grow sweaty, and you fear failure. Brave. Courageous. Daring.

Right now it feels a little hard to be festive for the Christmas season when the hearts of children and families in Syria are so threatened right now. The images shred at your heart. You think, they are so far away. There is no proximity. This is the time to put yourself in proximity to their suffering. The death, destruction, displacement.

There was a video earlier this fall of a little boy put in the seat of the ambulance, his head bleeding. He reaches up and touches his forehead, looks at the blood and tries to wipe it off on the seat. It makes my Dad cry anytime someone mentions it. Another video in the hallway of a medical center after a bombing, it’s inhabitants covered in dust, a teenager cradling the dead body of his baby brother, a women with no children left, two siblings looking for their mother. A group of orphaned children implore help to escape. The days are growing cold as winter settles into Syria and families are desperately trying to escape.

We can’t travel there and scoop them up and rescue, but we get up as close as we can in proximity. We can cry out for them to be rescued and we can help.

  1. Preemptive Love Coalition
  2. Welcome refugees- make way for their families. They are a Blessing not a Burden to our country and our lives.
  3. World Renew Response to Syria
  4. International Rescue Committee
  5. The White Helmets– 2,900 volunteers from all walks of life saving lives in Syria.

Say a prayer with your family this evening… every evening.

Dear Jesus, we pray for families in Syria.

We pray they can stay together. 

We pray they can stay warm and have shelter. 

We pray they can have the food and water they need to survive. 

We pray they can get to places that are safe. 

We pray they can know that we love them. 

We pray we can help and not forgot. Amen

 

Be Gutsy. Be in proximity like Fanny Crosby. Have courage to not look away.