Who Am I?

When asked to share about exploring, communicating, and even wrestling with her journey of ethnic identity, our friend, Ashley, eagerly agreed to the opportunity because as she shares below, she hadn't had much opportunity nor even resources previously to explore the gospel and ethnic identity. Our church's desire is that the Gospel Clarity Study Series that kickstarts this Saturday night with the topic of "The Gospel and Ethnic Identity" will help us all understand better how the gospel speaks into, reclaims and even redeems every aspect of the way we see ourselves and one another as we journey in a world prone to confusion, hurt and division around this topic. Ultimately, may God get the glory as we be catalysts for more healthy and gospel-centered dialogue on ethnic identity in our city and around the world.


I grew up not knowing color. It wasn’t that I was taught to ignore it nor that I didn’t see the differences, but I simply didn’t recognize why the differences mattered. I said “Te Quiero” to one family and “I Love You” to the other not realizing they were different languages and I called one set of grandparents “grandparents” while the others “abuelos.”

It wasn’t until seventh grade when someone pointed at me and said “You’re too pale to be Mexican” did I come to know the value of the difference. I still didn’t understand why it mattered but a fire was lit inside to prove my existence. I put my hair in pin curls every night knowing I’d wake up with curly hair. I wore hoop earrings and let my Spanish accent be more pronounced when speaking English. And I incessantly found ways to bring up my Mexican culture. But despite all the extra fluff, I was still outcasted. And even those who thought I was Mexican then didn’t understand how I could also be Caucasian. When did biology get so difficult for people?

Ashley, second from right, with her family.

Ashley, second from right, with her family.

“You can’t be Mexican, you have freckles.” “Your last name is Martinez, that’s not a white name.” “You can’t speak Spanish, you’re White.” “A Spanish speaking white girl?” “That’s your dad???” “I didn’t know how a Mexican could be so pale until I met your mom.” (Side note: my mom isn’t Mexican but the person who said this thought she was).

Worse yet, every accomplishment I made was quickly downgraded by my race especially by those who wouldn’t accept I was Mexican to begin with. Their responses quickly turned from “You can’t be Mexican” to “She only got it because she’s Mexican.”

And it was bad on both sides. Every event for minorities I got invited to, I was made to feel like an imposter. People would stare at me questioning why I was there, whose spot had I taken. It became a daunting mental exercise to ignore the eyes. If you don’t make eye contact, maybe you won’t be discovered.

In the church, it was no different. People often stared at us and I never really felt we were welcome as a full family anywhere. We were always the only interracial family or one of the very few. And race was never discussed. I always wanted to know how race fit into the picture but no one would dare bring it up or even acknowledge it. We never did anything to celebrate other cultures and I always wondered what that meant.

I became disheartened with the church, feeling as though I never belonged to the “family” I visited every Sunday. Despite my efforts to get involved, I felt more and more isolated. More and more misunderstood. More and more confused. I had been to so many churches since childhood that by the time I began looking for my own in college, I felt like an imposter there too. I felt like the acquaintance in the hallway you say hi to because of formalities and invite to things only when they happen to overhear an invitation.

In college, I hit my breaking point. As part of my scholarship offer, I was forced to take an undergraduate preparation program for minorities. The class was incredibly demeaning and basically assumed minority students couldn’t write a basic paper or uphold a steady argument. Though this frustrated me, this did not break me. What broke me was when this same course required all students (who didn’t have a class conflict) to participate in a bus boycott where we would ride the campus buses and not get off to “show the white man that we’re there.”

At that exact moment, I felt conflicted. I felt broken. I felt defeated. I was being asked to pick between two sides of myself and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pick between my Caucasian family and my Hispanic family. I went home and cried realizing I had been trying to be something the world wanted me to be for so long. I had spent my childhood trying to prove my existence, shoving my Caucasian identity to the side in order to amplify my Mexican self. But I couldn’t do it anymore. I asked God for help that night, to give me the strength to be myself always. And he answered that prayer by reminding me that I am perfect just as I am—only God can define me.

Written by Ashley Martinez

Should We Pray Corporately or Privately?

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In Acts 2:42, we are told that the early church "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer."

The modern church still typically meets weekly for teaching, and there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for fellowship and breaking bread with fellow believers. But sadly, many seem to have relegated prayer to a private matter, something that should be done in the "prayer closet" only. Perhaps this is a reaction to not wanting to be pharisaical, or the ever-present fear of public speaking, or maybe it's just our tendency to cherry-pick Scripture, but corporate prayer rightly understood and approached, becomes a joy, a privilege and a priority for every member of the Church. So why should we engage in corporate prayer?

Praying together builds community

One of the beautiful things about prayer is how it thrives in authenticity. The same could be said for community. As we’re able to bring our needs to the Lord and to each other, our vulnerability builds our trust in one another and our reliance on God as a family of believers. Prayer is also something that all believers can do, regardless of ability or maturity as a believer. Even those who may not feel comfortable praying aloud can still join in silently. When Jesus modeled how to pray, he used plural pronouns. Beginning with “our Father” and continuing through “deliver us from the evil one,” Jesus demonstrates that prayer is for the whole church.

Praying together can be encouraging to others

Chances are, we've all faced a situation that seemed so dire or emotional at the time that we found it difficult to pray. Corporate prayer is an opportunity to share these burdens with others. When Esther was looking at facing death if the king wasn't happy, she asked her fellow Jews to pray for her (Esther 4:16). Acts 12 tells us that when Peter was in prison, "earnest prayer was made for him by the church." Later in that chapter, an angel sets him free from the prison. Throughout his epistles, Paul would frequently urge his supporting churches to pray for him in the many trials he found himself in. When Daniel was facing death for praying to God, he also asked others to pray for him.

Praying together is part of our history and our future as a people of God

In Genesis 4, we read that people "began to call on the name of the Lord." In Revelation 8, we see a beautiful picture of an angel offering the prayers of the saints with incense, and the smoke from the incense going up with the prayers of the saints.

Praying together allows us to celebrate what God has done in the life of our church

In Luke 1, Mary and Elizabeth praised God together for allowing them to be a part of God's redemption story for His people. Paul frequently shared with the churches that he wrote to the praises associated with their prayers for him. When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he told him to go home and tell others what God had done for him. There were also numerous eyewitnesses that did the same. After passing through the Red Sea, the Israelites sing to the Lord and summarize the account of what happened.

Praying together allows us to confess our sins to one another

James 5 tells us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. Galatians 6 tells us to restore those among us gently and in doing so, we bear one another's burdens. Confessing our sins to one another is perhaps one of the most difficult things we will do in the Christian life, but the Bible offers encouragement in this and a command for us to forgive our faith family.

As people who are brought together by a common love for Jesus and a belief in what He's done for us, it's only natural that we would exercise this belief through communally talking to and praising God. As a worshipping, missional community, we believe that praying together is important, which is why we seek to pray regularly throughout the week together in Missional Communities (MCs), before and during Sunday worship gatherings and pause our MC weekly rhythms to gather corporately in bi-monthly prayer gatherings. Join us for our next Prayer Gatherings on Wednesday, March 6th at 6:30 p.m. at any of our three expressions. (Children are invited to join the adults for corporate prayer but also are welcome to join the childcare offered for babies-elementary-aged kids.) For more info on how to be a prayer catalyst for our church, please email serve@hallowschurch.org to join the Prayer Ministry Team.

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Written by Sara Rosenblad | Minister of Missional Initiatives | sara@hallowschurch.org

Every Scar Has a Story

Earlier this year, Pastor Andrew highlighted three priorities we are pursuing as a faith family in 2019: Gospel Clarity, Missional Engagement and Being the Church (watch the video here). We want to take a moment to share with you how we’ll go about pursuing the priority of Missional Engagement in our Missional Communities by learning how to capture and convey the stories Jesus is giving us to tell.

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Stories of how Jesus is forgiving our sin, covering our shame, dispelling our fear, reconciling our relationships, and restoring our identities are constantly being written within us and around us. See one example from Pastor Bryant of how we can learn to tell our stories, showcasing Jesus as the hero.


Jesus Gives Us Stories to Tell | Bryant Jones’ Story


Creation: Identity

I was born in Birmingham, AL to young, unwed, and unbelieving parents… the first of three boys. My parents later married but, because I was born before they were, I was given my mother’s maiden name. My brothers, being born after my parents were married, were given my father’s name… which means, although we had the same parents, I grew up with a different last name than the rest of my family.

Fall: Problem

The seeming persistent state of my life at home was one of chaos. Drugs and heavy drinking were par for the course in my house. And as a result, in many ways due the the dysfunction of my parent’s relationship and their own upbringing, so was domestic violence… there was oftentimes shouting and fighting, even to the point of having to call the police.

Redemption: Solution

My answer to the chaos was manipulation… it’s what I put my trust in to try and bring order to the chaos of my life. Being in leadership roles very early in life, I tried to control my surroundings, situations and relationships with people through manipulation. But it was exhausting, and there was never a guarantee that things would go the way I wanted them to. It was through the faithful witness of both my grandmothers that I was exposed to the story of Jesus as I went to church with them. I learned that he was God become man to rescue people from the chaos of their lives in a broken world; that he lived a perfect life — always doing what God wanted and required— but then died in the place of broken people. But didn’t stay dead — he rose from the grave three days later, showing that he had control over everything, even death! I also learned that if I turned from trusting in my way, and would trust in Him, he would quiet the chaos in my life and give me lasting peace; that God would adopt me into his family and call me his own. At the age of 14, I stopped trusting in manipulation as the means of bringing peace into my life and, instead, put my hope and trust in Jesus!

Recreation: Hope

Since then, my life has been marked with the peace that Jesus gives, even in the midst of life’s chaos. Instead of using manipulation to control others, I have the freedom to lovingly serve people — my family, my church, my neighbors… the joy of pointing them to Jesus, who can bring life from death, joy from sadness, and peace from chaos.


To learn how to share your story in this simple yet powerful way, be sure to connect with a Missional Community… if you’re not plugged in, you can check here to find an MC near you!