Charlottesville

I recently self-diagnosed myself with “caring fatigue.” It started in July of last year with two names: Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Even living in China at the time, I wasn’t far enough away from the videos of these men being shot and killed. Their deaths and the conversations surrounding their deaths caught my attention.

So I started to look for context outside of my white/evangelical/Southern Baptist box. I listened carefully to Christian brothers and sisters of color. Their stories of hurt and racism made the years of silence from my churches deafening.

Why had my Christian leaders pointed me to people all over the world who were hurting and needed the gospel but neglected to point me to the pain within my own country. And I’m not just talking about people of color, but also the many disaffected groups within American society. Opium epidemics, meth addictions, broken families, human trafficking, urban poverty, rural poverty, neglected children, mass incarceration, abortion rates, corrosive politics…the well-practiced church productions that I attended on Sundays did not reflect the messy, broken world everyone lived in the rest of the week.

Feeling the need to fix all these problems led to my “caring fatigue” diagnosis. But I know that I cannot fix these problems. There is only one savior of the world, and it isn’t me. But I can listen, learn, and live like I really care about people around me.

I can stand up and call evil by name. The actions of ethnic nationalists and racial supremacists this last week is evil. Brother pastors you must call it by name from the pulpit. Brother and sister Christians, you must genuinely care about everyone around you. Get involved in one another’s messed up lives. Build up one another in the church and get outside the church walls with your knowledge of God and the Bible.

Many of these men hold to the ideology of “blood and soil,” emphasizing a persons heritage and land. There is only one person’s blood that matters to me. The blood that Jesus shed in his death for all people (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5). The blood that brings me back into a face to face relationship with God (Revelation 22:4). The only soil that matters is not the soil of this world – broken and cursed by the sins of humanity (Gensesis 3:17-19). I long for the soil of the new earth, remade by God (Revelation 21:1-5). That’s where my citizenship is (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16).

Here are resources and people to listen to if you want to learn more…

Faithfully Magazine – http://faithfullymagazine.com

Be the Bridge – https://beabridgebuilder.com

Ekemini Uwan – http://www.sistamatictheology.com

Kyle James Howard – https://kylejhoward.com

Christena Cleveland – http://www.christenacleveland.com

Truth’s Table (podcast) – https://goo.gl/UtS7tC

Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission – http://erlc.com

Hillbilly Elegy – JD Vance

 

 

 

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Tibetan Endorsements for 2016

The best political conversation that I have had this year did not come from an American. It came from a Tibetan. He raised some interesting points that confirmed something that many people forget these days – the world watches America.

My friend, Dorje*, grew up in northwestern China with his nomadic family. They travelled with their herds of yak and sheep from summer grasslands to winter grasslands. Now, Dorje runs his own trekking company, taking Chinese and foreign travelers on trips around the Tibetan Plateau.

Dorje and other Tibetans have been following this election very closely for several reasons. First, many more Tibetans have access to the internet on their mobile phones than ever before. There are also more and more news articles being translated into Tibetan. Second, like many people, the Tibetans are concerned about the growing Islamic State and their expansion into other areas. Dorje said that he fears the Islamic State will continue to grow even into Tibet unless someone stops them.

This last point is why most of the Tibetans are supportive of Donald Trump. They have seen that Obama has not shown military strength during his presidency, and they are afraid that if Hillary Clinton is elected there will be more of the same. Donald Trump speaks with strength and purpose, especially in regard to defeating the Islamic State, and the Tibetans appreciate this. These Tibetans are only a few generations removed from clans led by pillaging warlords, so it’s understandable that strength in leadership is attractive to them.

We discussed some of the other issues in this election, mostly along the conservative/liberal divide. These talking points didn’t interest him that much, but the hearings and investigations into Secretary Clinton’s private emails did. Dorje commented that it was amazing to him and his friends that someone as high as the US Secretary of State could be put under investigation and possibly face charges under the law. This along with Donald Trump’s inability to “buy” the presidency with all his money showed the Tibetans what American democracy was truly about. In China, they see a government that has to have anti-corruption programs, and if you have money, any position or opportunity is available to you. So while most Americans lament the politics of 2016, the Tibetans see democracy at work.

As I said, this was the best conversation that I have had about the 2016 elections. And it reminded me that the world is watching America. This convinced me even more of the need for character in leadership. It also made me think about what a strong influence the American church can have if believers would unite under the things which matter most to God.

Defending the unborn.

Welcoming refugees.

Combating racial hostilities.

If the church shows genuine strength and a clear message in these matters, will other nations see an example to follow? If Tibetan nomads care about how America presents itself, shouldn’t we?


*name has been changed