Monday, January 19, 2009

Lift ev'ry voice . . .

I was back in the Bahamas yesterday . . . not physically, mind you. I'm still trying to rest up. But I was there via the radio airwaves. I, along with a few of my other seminary friends, Michael Hunt and Quentin Samuels and some Bahamian Morehouse students and a Spellman sister got a chance to be a part of the live radio show: The Audacity to Hope: Do Dreams Really Come True? The show was a part of the Matters of the Heart radio program, my new friend Kirk Johnson broadcasts internationally from the Bahamas. This past weekend, however, he took the 2-hour show on the road and headed straight here to Atlanta to do the broadcast live from the place he felt the dreams we're now realizing in President Obama's election began.

Kirk and I met when I was at the zns station,, finishing up a radio interview two weeks ago. Once he realized Michael and I were from Atlanta, he shared how he wanted us to be a part of his broadcast and invited us to bring others along.

So there we were sitting in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Morehouse's campus, surrounded by the thousands of photos of the Great Dr. King, Jr. and glimpses of the civil rights movement expounding on how one takes their dream from just the "concept" stage to reality. I was honored to be there, be a part of the conversation. I felt particularly esteemed to be in the company of these young black men who spoke their convictions and shared their insights of what is now being demanded of them in this moment and time in history. There were only two of us women at the table. At first I wondered if Kirk failed to find others. But as I sat there, it quickly became apparent that that time on the airwaves was really moreso about the men. It was their time to speak.

We women have always shared. Our men, more specifically, the collective voices of our black men, have not always been afforded that opportunity nor have they always taken advantage of it when presented. And Kirk's show was their time to be at the table and share their knowledge and relish in the fact that they do have something to say and it's not only their responsibility to share, but their responsibility to encourage their other brethren to do the same. Many others are waiting to hear what they have to say.

And on Sunday, a portion of the world was listening, including me. And I couldn't have been happier and more thrilled to have a front row seat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

God in the details . . .

A funny thing -- funny ironic thing -- happened in Old Testament II class today. I think I got a glimpse of the Holy Spirit hanging out in there. Yes, I said it, the Holy Spirit. This class may turn out not to be so bad after all. The fact that the professor shared tidbits of his faith foundation (giving indication that he believes in God) and we started the class with prayer tells me there is hope for Jesus to show up in class this time. I know for some it may even sound strange that I would write something like this. I mean, I'm in seminary. It would stand to reason that the Holy Ghost would be in every nook and cranny of this place, practically hanging from the ceilings ready to pounce. But sadly, that isn't the case. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit only comes by invitation. And sometimes I think that even if an invitation were sent out, we might find that the Holy Spirit's address was no longer valid.

It's only the first day -- Introduction Day -- and already I'm thinking . . . hoping . . . praying that this class will actually live out the truism the professor proclaims: that "scripture is he word of life" and that there can't be proper interpretation unless there is empathy and evaluation in dealing with the text. One without the other either lends itself to superficiality or cynicism.

I saw enough of that last semester. And frankly, I wasn't sure I would see too much of anything else. But God always gives us a glimpse of a shining light. This semester his name is Dr. Mark Strawn.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ten on Tuesday . . . a day later

1. I'm back stateside! Yippe. I'm connected, once again! My phone was the first thing I grabbed when the plane touched down on the tarmac Tuesday night. And when I got my bags, I headed straight to the nearest Waffle House to grab me a waffle. Just can't get that kind of good cooking in the Bahamas. I'm not saying my Bahamian brothers and sisters cooking isn't and wasn't good, but let's just say I've had my share of peas and rice . Besides there's nothing like a good waffle over great conversation. That was just what I needed.

2. I decided I'm not leaving the house today -- especially not to head toward Emory. I'll be there soon enough tomorrow. So, in the meantime, I'll just hang with myself and enjoy my solitude. I may finish up my reading, maybe not. This trip has really worn me out and today I just need to rest. God know there will be little of that once classes resume . . .

3. Well, it's back to classes tomorrow. My Spring semester begins. I'm barely finished with my January term (we call them J-term) courses. I still have three papers to write, two books to read and updates to do to my journal and organize my notes. The work never stops. But such is the life of a seminary student. Pray for my endurance.

4. Speaking of endurance, I'm resolving to get back to my kickboxing classes this year. In fact, I'm starting tonight. Found a free cardio class at the hospital.

5. I still can't believe that one of my professors assigned or "strongly suggested" a week ago that we begin assignments for his class. I didn't realize this until after a friend who was also in the Bahamas with me shared this tidbit of information this past week. Get this, not only did he want us to read the books for the class, but watch some John Wayne movie, "They Were Expendable" and "In Which We Serve" with Noel Coward (I don't even know who that is!) to prepare ourselves for the "struggle that lies ahead". Then he tagged on the end, "Time to join Netflix . . ." See why I'm going to kickboxing class!

5. At least I don't have to work tomorrow. I'm not sure I could make it anyway.

6. Okay, can I just say, I'm now a huge fan of all things Conch -- fried, stewed, in conch salad. That conch's some good eating!

7. Pastor Catherine Fluck-Price of Harvest UMC in Bradenton, Fla. is interested in possibly taking me on as an intern for the summer. She suggests I throw my hat in the ring for the summer position. I'm considering. It's either there or the Bahamas. Only thing with the later opportunity is I'll definitely have to have the phone situation worked out. This woman can't live off of IM'ing or email alone. I wasn't connected for 10 days and nearly lost my mind. Imagine two months!

8. One thing I like about the Bahamians is they really know how to live within their holiday's. They still have Christmas decorations up-- nativity scenes and all. I didn't see not one Valentine or red-colored nothing anywhere. Maybe they'll display those things in say . . . February, right after they take down their Christmas trees and lights. Apparently that's about how long they keep them up!

9. I might find myself on another Bahamian radio program. A talk show host I met there, Kirk Johnson is heading to Atlanta to do a live broadcast this Sunday from the King Center on "The Audacity of Hope: How do I make my dreams come true?" He invited me and other friends of mine to join and share our thoughts. You know I'm really feeling this is not a coincidence (which I don't really believe in anyway) that I'm coming face-to-face with all these radio personalities and meeting up with these radio opportunities. A friend of mine and I have been talking about putting together our own show. Maybe these opportunities are the open door we have been looking for . . .

10. Call me crazy, but I'm glad to be back home . . . cold weather and all. Something just didn't feel quite right with me wearing shorts and summer dresses in the middle of January!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dreams revealed . . .

Imagine taking a sabbatical from your cellphone. Well, I did -- not by my own accord, mind you. It was forced. Altell doesn't work on this side of the ocean and for the past nine days I've been without the ability to make or receive phone calls or text. I was so distressed that for the first few days, I would just turn on my phone to see if it still worked. I secretly hoped maybe a text would find its way through or I would see the bars light up on my phone saying I could make a call if I wanted. No such blessing. (Cost for just a minute would have been too high anyway). For a while, I couldn't even link up to the Internet. By all accounts, I felt as if I were a woman without a country to connect to. The ironic thing about that, is that that's how I've felt since being here. In that in-between place, where I struggle to find out where exactly I fit in the grand scheme of what I see taking place here.

I shared with my fellow seminarians and workshop participants that I'm beginning to see what God is doing with me here. This seminar is the fulfillment of prayers I have prayed in regard to my ministry and and a fulfillment of the promises God made to deliver on my desires. I didn't realize until a few days ago that the list I have been compiling of the 100 things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime is dwindling somewhat as God is crossing some of those things off the list. Here I am beginning to see the marriage of my journalism skills with that of ministry and I am in awe of how God works. I've desired to connect with people of other cultures and have the opportunity to speak and minister internationally and have them share their faith with me. This trip has allowed me the chance to do that.

I prayed that I would be able to travel and fill my passport with stamps. This trip is the beginning of that dream. I have also prayed to be able incorporate my love of radio within my ministry. Since being here, I have networked with people who may be able to offer advice and help in that area and have even asked me to be a part of their radio broadcasts. I've done two interviews since being here. And been asked to speak at other future events and churches.

All of this happens and I have no one to immediately tell. Maybe that is where the lesson lies. Maybe I'm just supposed to sit with something and bask in the Glory of God's goodness alone. Being without my phone has forced me to look within and rest with God awhile. It has forced me to really take stock of my surroundings and ask God, "What's next?"

It's prompted me to live my life with the expectation that God has so much more in store for me.
I must say, this isn't a bad start. Today the Bahamas, tomorrow . . . maybe South Africa.
I'm praying!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Answered prayers . . .

I'm so behind on my blog posts for this week. There has just been so much going on -- the seminars that last all day and events into the night -- that I haven't been able to keep up. But I did want to get this one in. That radio show that I was on this week . . . well it'll be streaming live tonight on at 9 p.m. So if you get a chance, log on.

It so happened that I, and two of my seminarian colleagues, Michael Hunt and Lance Eiland were asked to be on the radio program Vision, which is a broadcast by the Methodist Conference of the Caribbean and the Americas all over the Caribbean and even in New Zealand. The show, which is a 30-minute weekly program gave us an opportunity to share a little of who we are, how we were called into ministry and our thoughts on this past weeks seminar. For me, it was a answer to one of my prayers to God. And it was evidence that all my skills and desires to use my journalist tools and pursue my radio dreams in ministry have been heard.

I didn't think I would go international so soon. But that's what I get for putting God in a box.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My heart was strangely warmed . . .

I've experienced the unusual gift of hospitality here. I say it's unusual because it's just a type of hospitality that I haven't really experienced before. It could have something to do with the fact that I'm in a tourist town and tourist towns know how to keep its tourists coming back. It could be the fact that I am a minister and ministers are given special privilege. But I would like to think it's something more -- it's just who the Bahamian people are.

Upon hearing that I was coming to the island of Eleuthera, the Methodist ministers between that island and the island of Spanish Wells and Nassau worked out a plan that would allow me to stay overnight in Spanish Wells. Now get this: Spanish Wells isn't exactly a place most blacks hang out. Now you will see a few on the island. They have students who attend school there. But they don't live there. In fact, many years ago, blacks weren't even allowed to spend the night there -- at least that's what the native Bahamians tell me. I guess that's why some of the Bahamians looked so shocked when I said that I would be staying over on the island until Monday, when I would meet up with the rest of my group. I've learned that Spanish Wells, which got its name from the Spanish ships that used to stop over at the primarily white settlement to get water because of the islands many wells, is pretty much still all white. Fishing is its dominate trade. In fact, it's the Spanish Wells fishing house that provides lobsters to the U.S. Red Lobster restaurants.

But I can now say I stayed there. One of the pastors, who also welcomed me into his home for dinner and conversation later that night with his family, put me up in his apartment. Even offered to rent a golf cart for me so I could get around the next morning. I was even asked to speak to school-age children on their return back to school at their morning assembly. As I sat in that apartment, (which was really nice!) I wondered what this opportunity was all about. I so much wanted to share it with my other colleagues. I wanted them to be there. I wanted them to experience the Bahamian people within their own communities and on their front porches like I had the opportunity to do.

But then I was reminded that there are some things I must do alone. This was one of those times.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

For the Bible tells us so . . .

I didn’t even have to tell him I was a minister. The Bible I was holding did it for me. And I didn’t even deny it when the gentleman asked. I said I was a minister-in-training. But that didn’t even matter. He heard minister and that sat well with him. I was someone who could pray for him and that’s what he wanted – Prayer. I had seen the gentleman on the Bo Henghy, the ferry that would take me to the island where I would spend the day, and noticed him watching me as I talked out the sermon I would deliver later that morning. It so happened he too was riding on the smaller fast ferry to Eleuthera. He wears the title superintendent. He’s in charge of a number of law enforcement districts around Eleuthera. He has about 160 people he’s in charge of and he wanted prayer for his continued safety. I have this thing about taking requests to pray later – I don’t like to do it. If you ask right then, why not do it right then. So I did. Right there on the boat as we prepared to head to Eleuthera. At that moment, I remembered Professor de Souza sharing how we should look for opportunities to share Christ. The funny thing about this is that I really didn’t do anything. My Bible did it for me. It opened the door . . . and I walked in.


I really didn’t want to sing. I never do, least all by myself. Remants of the proclamation from Sister Lillian telling me in front of the entire second grade class to stop singing with the rest of my classmates, still ring in my ears. She said I was just that bad. I threw the whole class off key. Words do sting and the sting is still being felt some 30 years later. So when the Lord told me that he wanted me to sing again before I went into the message, I was not happy. But I slowly walked over to the pianist and asked her if she knew the song that was ringing in my head. Sanctuary. It is my favorite and it does calm the fears . . . a little. But getting started, gets my pulse to racing and my mouth began to get dry and cakey, like I got cotton balls. But I did it, right there in front of this congregation of Bahamians. And they joined in with me. God really does give us courage to stand when we think that we cannot and like the scriptures say it is in our weakness that he is strong.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bahamas-bound and still no sermon. . .

Okay, so my friend is driving me to the airport when he asks whether I am excited about my trip -- this journey that I will be taking to the Bahamas for the next 10 days to study evangelism and mission. I say that I am, a little. Honestly, I’m still stressing over the message I am to deliver tomorrow. It’s not done. I have snippets and bits of information that I feel God wants me to share, but the overall message, I’m still struggling with. “Seeking Jesus in the Midst of Chaos” seems to be the theme that God has me dealing with. I'm trying to figure just how the Magi in Matthew 2:1-10 teaches us how to look for the light and hope in the midst of darkness. I'm pretty certain this is what God wants me to talk about. For one, I can relate being that I too am in sort of a dark place. I'm a firm believer that the message is always for the messenger first and the people second. But yet, I struggle. Am I understanding the text the way I should? Will it speak to the people and meet the needs of what they are dealing with as they move into this new year? Will they receive me?

A weeks ago, another friend told me that knowing my audience really didn’t matter. He said that I simply needed to trust God. Easier said than done. Even a friend of mine who has strayed away from the Lord told me that. I’ve been trying. I’m usually done by now and have the outline of the message pulled together. By this time, I have rehearsed the message a number of times and even read it to my mother to get her feedback on its delivery and flow. On this one, my first international ministering experience, I feel alone. This uncertainty makes me nervous as I want to deliver the message that will meet the people’s needs. My colleagues tell me things will be fine. It’s going to be a long night . . .


As it would turn out, the night wasn’t as long as I thought. Instead of me not going to bed at all, I fell in around 3 a.m. (I had to be up and ready by 7 a.m. to take a 2-hour ferry ride to Spanish Wells so I could catch another ferry to the “Bluff” to get to the church.) Had it not been for Rev. Charles Lewis, I can’t rightly say what would have happened. I was so moved by his offer to welcome me into his home so that I could finish and print out my sermon for Sunday. It was just what I needed. As soon as I got there it was as though the message just poured out on the pages. God does work behind the scenes and goes before us. Now why I can’t seem to remember that or why that doesn’t just rest me with me, I don’t know.