In June I was blessed to be invited to share my story at the Hope Gathering Conference which was one of the most diverse Christian conferences I have ever attended. The organizer Suzy Silk did a great job of finding women from diverse backgrounds to speak when other conference organizers claim they cannot find people of color or women to speak. To hear my testimony and the testimonies of all speakers click on the photo below:
Today I saw Life of Pi (the movie based on Yann Martel’s best-seller) as an Sunday treat to myself. I will try not to give away too much of the movie but I felt led to reflect on the overall message. The main character named Pi (as someone with a weird name I was already on his side, LOL!), is a spiritually curious Indian boy who decides to follow Hinduism, Christianity and Islam in a search for God’s truth.As a child I also looked into many religions of my own accord and through a mandatory extra period of World Religions class required by the “gifted” program I was placed in during Junior High School. I ordered a Book of Mormon but before it could arrive at my house I discovered what Mormons thought of Black people prior to the 1970’s and ended up throwing it away and writing a Black Power note on the reply card and promptly sending it back to the Mormons (my first Act of Black Liberation Theology). I read some of Siddhartha and found Buddhism attractive not as a religion but as a call to find my own spiritual path.
I am humbled and blessed to be apart of SojournersEmerging Voices Project which is a initiative that aims to raise the voices of new leaders for faithful justice. I found out about this in the spring but the project was officially launched yesterday. God is hilarious because a few years ago I complained to friends and God about the lack of women and people of color speaking, leading and writing in the faith-based social justice world. Often when we complain about something that needs to get done God will point back at you and say “why don’t you do it?” In 2007 I was discouraged about the lack of concern for justice I observed in the church, had recently left a really bad church situation and was praying and crying about the gap between my reality and the church. During that time after a fast I learned about Sojourners from a email to Union students inviting us to apply for a scholarship to the Pentecost 2007 Conference (which I thought was a Black Pentecostal Social Justice Conference, one of my girlfriends even thought I was going to meet somebody there, LOL). I attended the conference and found a community of Christians striving for justice nationally but more importantly in NYC. At the conference I met Lisa Sharon Harper (a fellow Emerging Voices member), Rev. Peter Heltzel and Anna Lee Winans all founders of NY Faith & Justice. I returned home fired up to organize people of faith for social justice. A year later I was able to intern at Sojourners as a Beatitudes Society Fellow and began writing for the magazine and blog. I never expected to have these opportunities but God does hear our spoken and unspoken prayers. Those who know me know that I come from very humble circumstances and I was not raised in church, all I have to qualify me for this work is God’s grace and the words of my testimony.
“I do the work of justice not out of a disdain for the privileged but out of a love for Life.” Womanist Theologian Dr. Kelly Douglas Brown
Oaks of Righteousness by Erin Hughey
In 2007 I joined an ecumenical movement in New York City called NY Faith & Justice, and I can say that this work is an answer to prayers. Early in my Christian walk I desired to do social justice from a Christ-centered perspective. This desire is birthed out of a deep gratitude for the total salvation I experienced at age 14 after four years of being led by the Holy Spirit to pray and read the Bible (outside of the church). I was not raised in a Christian home and had only been to church two times during my entire childhood. Christ did not just save my soul but he saved me from the unjust systems that enacted violence on my very being as a young black woman growing up in the inner-city community of East New York.
As I was updating my blog I saw this post and am reminded to keep pushing on. I have fulfilled some of the goals such as: serving on the College Museum at the MET, graduating from my program, working with a book coach to write my story and I went through 6 months of health coaching,but I still need to run that 5k! I hope this post will encourage you to turn the page and finish writing your story.
“We are changed; we are marked by challenge. Adversity is not an obstacle we need to get around to live our life, its apart of our life. The question is not when you’re going to meet adversity but how you are going to meet it. The human ability to adapt is our greatest asset.” Aimee Mullins ground breaking runner born without shinbones
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. Habakkuk 2:2
As I thought about this contest I could not think of ways in which I would drastically change my story. Though my life has been full of challenges, hurts and disappointments early on I learned the lessons of perseverance, faith, tenacity and service. I don’t necessarily want to write a new story but I do feel like I am coming to the end of chapter one and need to start the second chapter. As I enter the last year of my theology and social work program I stand at a crossroads. I have been pursuing healing so that I am healthy, whole, connected to God and empowered to fulfill my vocational calling. I want to fulfill my calling out of an abundance of love not out of bitterness.