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I am from Chicago where a white supremacist shooter went on a rampage in July of 1999. He killed Ricky Birdsong, a friend and a member of my church, whom we called Coach. Coach was loving, jovial, very committed to reconciliation, and deeply devoted to his family. He lived in an affluent neighborhood and he was doing great work with his life. Coach was walking home from the playground with his two kids. The white supremacist had just shot at five Jewish people in the neighborhood where I used to live, and then drove to another Jewish neighborhood. My guess is he went looking for a Jewish person, just happened to see my friend Coach walking down the street with his kids, and decided a black man would do. Read more
I was raised all over the world. I carry a United States passport, but that may be the most American thing about me. I love America, and I am very aware of the heritage that is mine, being born in this great land. But the world in which I have grown up and that I really call my home, is what I call “the real world.” It is a world close to the earth, a world desperate for good news, a world that does not know all that we know and therefore does not engage in all of the arguments that divide us. It is a world in bondage to all the effects of sin and separation from God. The people of this world do not know why they are in the condition they are in. They are just there, waiting for a voice, a hand, a message, an expression, and an answer to their problems. Read more
Jesus Christ wants his body to become one—every church, every person. He wants his body to experience the unity with him and with each other that he experiences with his Father. But this unity is hindered by barriers of many kinds. Read more
I recently had the dubious honor of being the only female passenger in the first class cabin of a crowded jet. As the plane landed and taxied toward the terminal I, like all the men around me, quickly gathered my belongings and stood in the aisle. Apparently the ground crew was having difficulty opening the door, and after about ten minutes of listening to mechanical parts grind back and forth, one man, standing inches behind me blurted out, “Oh, it’s probably some stupid woman who can’t figure out how to open the door!” The other men chuckled, and I smiled like one of the boys, feeling strangely invisible and deeply humiliated by the entire circumstance. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if individuals would be as inclined to vent racist rather than sexist attitudes? Would they be as inclined to admit they thought Asian or African-Ameicans inept, particularly if one were present? Read more
I almost didn’t hear her. She sat just outside the door, leaning against the weathered wood on a dirt stoop. Her sari was so old it had no color anymore. No one else acknowledged her. Maybe she hadn’t said anything after all. Read more
Chances are that being a male, over 35 years old, ministering in a conservative evangelical denomination, and the product of a “dad-works, mom-at-home” traditional family, I would not be an egalitarian. Chances are that I would be a “New Man,” probably of the Promise Keepers variety, whose maleness has recently been reclaimed and revitalized. I would, as chances go, probably be a man who on the one hand is sympathetic to the feminist cause, listening to and understanding the plight of women throughout the centuries, while on the other hand being a man who has decided to follow “God’s plan” and has taken on the leadership of my family in a gentle but firm way. Read more
Atlanta changed my life! There, I’ve said it, OK? To be a part of the world’s largest-ever collection of clergy ( 42,000) in one building at one time; to hear the thunderous, earsplitting applause, the four-part harmony, and that eerie, haunting, inspiring chant of “Je-e-e-s-u-s” as this handholding, mid-sized city of men affirmed their common faith—what can one say? It will never be forgotten. The highlight for me had to be somewhere around the time of Steve Green’s emotional presentation of “Let the Walls Come Down,” leaving thousands of male pastors of every race and denomination tearfully hugging while offering and receiving apologies for centuries of injustice and blindness to each other’s plight. Hats off to Coach Bill McCartney and the team for bringing vision to fruition as they launched the much-needed Promise Keepers’ theme for 1996, “Break Down the Walls.” Read more
“Why don’t you attend as a volunteer, and then we can observe the rally from different angles.” This was Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen’s suggestion. She was coming to Pittsburgh to report for Books and Culture on the 1996 Promise Keepers’ rally to be held at Three Rivers Stadium. I wasn’t sure about the plan. Mary would be there in an official capacity, and that seemed more up-front to me. I didn’t want to be a spy. But she proved persuasive, and at the last minute I offered my services for the second day of the rally. Read more
Hearing ambulance sirens was nothing out of the ordinary when I worked as a nurse in the emergency department in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. But, although I didn’t know it at the time, the sirens blaring one day were signaling a major change in my life. Through the emergency doors came a woman and her 12-year-old daughter. The mother—a single mom— had killed her son, wounded her daughter, and stabbed herself with a knife. Read more
It is interesting to compare Christianity Today’s cover article on John Stott with the cover article featuring “Ministering Women.” The “ministering women” are presented in mannequin-like poses, in full color, standing on thin air. Out of their mouths come comic-strip-style blurbs. Pastels are the chosen colors for sidebars and screens. It was hard to tell if the layout was a take-off on “Designing Women” or “Sister Act” In the Stott article, the “ministering man” is depicted black and white, face-only, with meaningful quotes set apart by boldface black type. The accent color is red. Despite the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, a comparison of even the layout of the two articles reveals clues that seem to suggest that some “priests” are taken more seriously than others. Read more

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