The New Testament Church was the Prototype for how God Designed the Church to be.
I love my 4 wheel drive Toyota FJ Cruiser, with it’s retro look and off road performance, even though it’s 14 years old. Toyota never intended to make them. The designer created a prototype for display purposes in 2003 at the Detroit Auto Show as a creative concept that was unlike anything Toyota had ever done. It got such rave reviews, the company rushed to get them into production for a short eight year run. The finished product looked very similar to the original crowd pleasing prototype, as it should. A prototype sets the standard and expectation.
In March 2020, the church I work for went entirely virtual, the international women’s organization I serve with cancelled the workshops I was preparing to lead in the Middle East, my husband’s coffee shop had to stop serving customers indoors and experienced significant financial loss. My four kids abruptly stopped going to school and started learning online, completely isolated from their schools and communities. Add to these personal struggles the national pain of racial injustice and inequitable suffering in certain communities because of the pandemic, and many days, it all felt like too much to bear. I found myself losing hope. How can I trust God when things look like they do right now? Is He actually trustworthy when it seems like what is happening now is the opposite of what He promised?
Reconciliation across color, class, and culture has always been God’s idea. It started in the Garden in Genesis 1 and 2 between Adam and Eve, and will end in the city coming down from heaven to earth in Revelation 21 and will be a gathering of his people in Revelation 7, “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”.
I’ll never forget the moment when I sensed the Holy Spirit inviting me into this story. I was sitting in our all white mega-church in Grand Rapids, MI. in 2006 and Pastor Marvin Williams was speaking from Isaiah 58 about God’s heart to loosen the chains of injustice. Pastor Marvin, who is African-American, had just shared about his experience of sitting at a restaurant eating breakfast and an older white man walked past him and said, “What are you doing here, boy?” Boy is a racial slur dating back to the Jim Crow days.
Recently, I saw a meme traveling on Facebook that was a little spicy. It said something like, “When I think of a biblical woman, I think of someone who could put a tent peg through someone’s head if needed.” That is one way to think about a biblical woman – albeit not the way I have typically heard one described. I thought about how the narratives we read, hear and see influence who we think we should be. Groups create and reinforce narratives that perpetuate shame, pride, a sense of worth, and a whole lot more.
Today I am a wife, mom, and minister. I love how God has used people along my journey to help me become the woman I am today. I want to share with you a little history of my life and highlight two amazing women that God used to help shape my life.
Growing up was difficult emotionally at times. My mother had sickle cell disease. This caused her to be chronically low in oxygen damaging nerves and organs. She was in and out of the hospital regularly. Whatever time I had with her when she was not in pain I cherished. My sister, being 9 years older, was already into her teen years by the time I went into elementary school. My father worked 2nd shift from 4pm to midnight. Even though I had family I often felt alone while at home.
We all know that representation matters. As a wife, mom, creative, and nonprofit leader, I have often felt kinship with the impetuousness of Peter, been comforted by David’s psalms, and learned from the words of Jesus himself. However, there is something special that happens when I see myself in the Biblical narrative. In Scripture, when a woman shows astonishing bravery and faith, leadership and joy, I am affirmed in my own shape and roles.