Archives For Justice

Lunch with a Black Pastor

Charles Kiser —  September 1, 2016 — 9 Comments

Every once in a while I become acutely aware that I am in sacred space. The ancient Celts called it “thin space” — where God’s world and our world come into contact and even merge.

My recent lunch meeting was one of those times.

I had the opportunity to share a meal with a friend who is a Black Christian pastor. I was most eager to talk with him about his perspective on recent events in our nation: the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castille, Black Lives Matter, and the shooting of five police officers in Dallas.

The truth is that I have long observed from the sidelines. I haven’t engaged the conversation because it hasn’t been urgent — because I haven’t been subjected to oppression. But it’s time to engage. I have so much to learn, so much to become aware of, so much growing to do.

The question that’s been rumbling deep in my soul the past couple months is: how do we — the church in Dallas, in all its diversity — enact the gospel of King Jesus?

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I had a great lunch with a fellow church planter Kendon Greene last week. We both share a partnering church in The Hills Church of Christ.

Kendon is planting Unity Christian Fellowship (UCF) in Arlington, Texas. He described his church’s journey from serving an affluent upper class group to being a church of and for the poor.

Two things he said really stuck out to me about their ministry to and with the poor:

1. “I don’t know what the poor need.” Kendon and UCF have stopped making assumptions about how they can help their poor neighbors and started asking them instead for the answers. One woman they served told them: “I’ve got a shelter to go to at night, but those guys over at the park – they don’t have anything. You should help them.” That comment led to some breakthrough for UCF after they started taking cold bottled water to the homeless people who lived around the local park and hanging out with them. Several of the friends they made at the park have become part of UCF group as a result.

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This summer the Storyline House Church I’m part of decided to resurrect “Neighbors Lunch” ministry like we did in the “early days” of Storyline (because we’re so old now).

Storyline’s first Neighbors Lunch in June 2008.

The idea initially came to us from Luke 14, where Jesus says something like: “If you’re going to throw a party, don’t invite your rich friends who can repay you. Instead invite the lame, the crippled and the poor. They can’t pay you back so God will have to be the one to reward you.”

We began to wonder: what if we took Jesus seriously and actually did that? I have found that those who ask this question are typically on the cusp of a transformative experience. That’s certainly been the case for us.

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Changing Names

Charles Kiser —  October 25, 2011 — 4 Comments

Julie read me a beautiful news story a few nights ago about how a health officer in Maharashtra, India, Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, set out to help girls change their names.

Dr. Pawar conducted a survey in his district and discovered that 222 girls had been named “Nakusa,” a Marathi word which means “unwanted” in English.

In an interview with India Real Time, Dr. Pawar said: “In most cases, after the birth of two or more female children, the next one would be named ‘Nakusa’ by the parents.”

Indian culture places high value on male children, so much so that hospitals are legally forbidden to reveal the sex of the child before birth in hopes of preventing gender selective abortions, according to an Associated Press article.

This same article goes on to point out that male children are preferred to females partly because it’s very expensive to give girls away in marriage. Families often go into debt to provide a dowry at their daughter’s wedding, whereas a boy brings a bride and her dowry back to the family.

So people like Dr. Pawar and his team are conducting renaming ceremonies to change girls’ names from “unwanted” to names like “Vaishali” that mean “prosperous, beautiful and good.”

Can you imagine what it would be like to be named “Unwanted” by your parents?

Imagine hearing the roll called at school, and your name came up every day as “Undesirable.” “Leftover.” “Wish-you-were-a-boy.” “Unloved.”

What an incredible act of justice to let the girls take on new names!

This story reminded me of a story in Hosea 1-2, where the prophet Hosea, under God’s instruction, names his children “Lo-Ruhama” (which means “not loved”) and “Lo-Ammi” (which means “not my people”). Their names were to be a message to the people of Israel that God was upset with them for their disobedience and idolatry. God wanted desperately for Israel to return to him.

And then, in a wonderful act of grace (because Israel, after all, deserved to be called the names given to Hosea’s children – while Hosea’s children and the Indian girls did not), God says (Hosea 2:16-23):

16 “In that day,” declares the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.
19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

21 “In that day I will respond,”
declares the LORD—
“I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
22 and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
   and they will say, ‘You are my God.’

Dr. Pawar and his team reflect the love and justice of God in their renaming work.

St. Baldrick’s

Charles Kiser —  March 4, 2011 — Leave a comment

I am issuing a challenge: I will shave my head at the upcoming St. Baldrick’s event if I raise $100 by March 26.

Do you want to see me bald?

St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government.

One of my friends in the Dallas Junior Chamber, Lucas, is organizing the event on behalf of his boss’s child.

I’m also using it as a reminder to continue to pray for and support our friends Derrick and Monika Paez, and their daughter Salomea who has leukemia.

If you have a personal vendetta against me or want to support cancer research for kiddos, please go to my participant webpage and donate for the cause!