Monday, May 30, 2011

profile: people

oh my galoshes, so many amazing experiences have happened just in the past few days--i will have many stories to share later, that's for sure. but until i've processed more and my thoughts are less jumbled, here's some quick profiles of folks i've met thus far in jackson. this is the first of many posts profiling people, because let's be real, i love people. AND these people are amazing--i'm so stoked to share part of their story. i hope their lives might bless you as they have me, even if you never get to meet them.

Leslie: Leslie loves people with a passion. she currently directs missions and outreach at Galloway, and while she claims she has no credentials for the position, she clearly has the most important one down on lock. my first day i only got to talk with her for about 20 minutes, where she proceeded to tell me about the lives of a couple of the Grace Place guys she's grown close with. Grace Place, by the way, is the homeless ministry at Galloway and where i'll be working closely at this summer--more on that later. basically, in just those 20 minutes, Leslie inspired the mess outta me--talk about sitting at the feet of an amazing woman.

Connie: speaking of amazing women...well you just can't speak about that and NOT talk about her. Connie is co-pastor extraordinaire at Galloway. she will gaze into your soul in about 3 seconds and ask you just the right questions (and probably the ones you didn't want to have to answer). this lady oozes the Holy Spirit, no joke. i heard her preach for the first time this past sunday, and my life will never be the same. never have i seen a female pastor lead with such strength and yet openness and tenderness in my life. to be honest, i've had doubts placed in my head about women being able to preach and lead, but never again will that take root in my mind. mmm mmm mmm.

Ed King: hands down the most humble man i've ever met in my life. and ladies and gents, he has much to be proud of--people come from all over to sit at his feet and learn from his life, and i can see why. if you don't know who he is, google him ASAP ("ed king civil rights"). that's right, he's google-able.

Barbara and Barry Powell: this wonderful couple took me to see joseph and the technicolor dreamcoat at the local theatre--cool point #1. barbara also drove, and while she may be a grandma, don't let that you fool you. she drives stick, and she means business on the road. barry and barbara got married in pakistan, where she was teaching at a methodist girls' school. he casually notes that he "had to chase her far"--baller, barry, baller.

more profiles to come!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


today, as i stood outside the historic downtown Jackson greyhound bus station, i wondered to myself how in the world i came to find myself in Mississippi. i can safely say that i never in my wildest daydream imagined myself here. yet God has a funny way of bringing us to just where we need to be.

As i gazed across the crowd at the greyhound station, my eyes did a double take. here i was, surrounded by Freedom Riders from all over the country, those who had risked their lives to take a stand in the name of justice and equality some 50 years ago. to simply breathe in the thick, hot mississippi air with them was already an incredible experience. but as i took in the scene, as i looked in-between the heads before me, there he was. Dr. John Perkins, casually standing near the front corner of the crowd. now i've read about him, heard him speak at various conferences, even met him a time or two, but that wasn't what gave me pause. as i looked again to confirm it was him, my spirit swelled up within me. the life and work of Dr. Perkins is why i'm now in ministry; it was through the legacy of his ministry that i first encountered the living and breathing message of the Gospel. and there he was, a casual observer honoring those who similarly dedicated their lives to God's work of reconciliation and justice.

50 years ago, the Freedom Riders stood up for what they believed the Gospel truly meant, and what strikes me is that many of them were likely my age or even younger. I can't help but ask myself, where will i be in 50 years? what will i have stood for? the Gospel was alive today at that old greyhound station, just as it was some 50 years ago. as i stood at that place, i remembered how indebted i am to those who have told me their story, who bear openly the wounds of the past for a new generation of seekers of justice through the Gospel.

I hugged a random Freedom Rider as we all dispersed from the event. Poor guy, i don't think he was quite prepared for that. but before he shuffled away with his walker, he simply looked at me and said, "i don't feel any remorse or anger about the past. read some of our stories, even though some are painful and hard. but they are important to know." may i have ears to continue to hear the story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

history lesson

i've been doing a good bit of thinking lately about history. what do we do with our history, with our past both recent and far-reaching? when i went home right before leaving for Mississippi, i asked my grandma to share with me some of her family history, a story i've not really heard and have been curious about as of late. what is it that makes us want to know where those before us have gone, where we have come from? which stories do we choose to tell, and which do we try to forget and hide?

today i heard and saw a little bit more of the history of Jackson. like all history i've ever heard, it's complicated and messy and full of painful memories. it's surreal to be at my church downtown, surrounded by a past full of the work and lives of Medger Evers, Ed King and John Perkins, to name a few. at the same time, this very church, Galloway, has its own haunting past-an internal and public battle over desegregation that tore apart its congregation in a single sunday. it's a past that has obviously left scars-the remnants of a vibrant downtown now broken and unused; the numerous homeless men and women that daily come for a meal; the racial and economic tensions that still run deep through the very seams of the city. yet Jackson and its people are still hanging on to life, to the vision of those before them who envisioned a new life beyond their history.

to be honest, i'm not sure yet what to do with all this history. it's one that i've been fortunate to hear, see, read about and even experience in other places, but that still doesn't make it any easier to take in. as i wrestle with our history, as i struggle to make it all make sense and not be in vain, i must remember that the remembering is essential. because for all it's pain and sorrow, i'm forever grateful for this history full of the named and the unnamed, for those who stood up for a world they believed in but could not yet see actualized before their eyes. what a beautiful faith legacy for me to walk in and hope in.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

hello, Jackson =)

2 days and 13ish hours of driving later, i'm officially in Jackson, MS! this post will be short, as i'm now well fed and exhausted. here's some quick highlights from my travels:

1. shout out to my faithful musical companions who serenaded me (and had to listen to me sing/belt/beatbox horrendously for hours on end)--special props to Kirk Franklin, Lecrae, Javier, Adele, Michael Buble, and my girl India.Arie for their extra commitment.
2. driven through many an interesting city name lately, my personal favorite being Chunky, MS. there's obviously a story behind that name, i'm sure of it. i also may or may not have a story involving Chunky, MS as well...
3. i apparently missed the memo that MS is in central time zone, thus pleasantly surprising me with an extra hour--woot woot!
4. met some lovely new friends in ATL on friday night and promptly celebrated one of their birthdays with the whole neighborhood at their house. praise God for awesome and faithful people--more on that later when i have my brain back.
5. i just like lists with odd numbers.

aight, folks, more Jackson adventures to come. =)