I have been reading a lot about Native Americans this past year in an effort to better understand my Ojibwe neighbors. I read The Orenda by Joseph Boyden in early March, but then Covid made it seem irrelevant. Recent protests for social justice brought my thoughts back to understanding neighbors whose cultures are different from mine, whose life experiences and worldviews are different. We aren’t all alike. We are different, and that difference enriches our world. Difference does not mean one is any less an image bearer of God than any other. We all deserve respect as God’s creation. We all stand in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ—a brown man from a lower class family in a backwater of an oppressive empire.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Compassion and Justice, hand in hand. It is who our God is. Not one or the other, but both together. "Grace and Truth" is how one of his closest friends described him when he came to live with us--Word made flesh, the One and Only come from the Father (John 1:14).
We are living in difficult times. But they are also exciting times. No, I don't expect to see the Kingdom of heaven in its fulness, coming in the next few months, certainly not by political efforts. But I do hope to see Christians standing for compassion, Christians speaking out for justice, Christians living out grace and truth in an age when it is so much easier to sling mud on the Internet.
I live in the Northwoods where my mailing address is a tiny Native American town dominated by a large casino. In my desire to better understand my Ojibwe neighbors, I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and a book of local history. Friends recommended several other titles, one being the autobiographical novel April Raintree (reviewed here) and another the shockingly titled Custer Died for Your Sins by Vine Deloria, an Oglala Sioux and executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), 1964-67.
I met Stacy Monson through our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. In fact, Stacy helped start Minnesota N.I.C.E. and I’m glad she did. The monthly meetings in St. Paul and the writers who come together there have been a big encouragement to me. Award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series and Open Circle, Stacy has become a critique partner and friend. She describes her stories as “an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life.” Unlike the typical Christian romance, Stacy’s books are always about something so much more significant than boy meets girl.
Her newest book, When Mountains Sing, releases today, August 7!
When the truth cost her everything, she thought there was nothing left to lose.
I met Tamara Jorell at a Minnesota N.I.C.E. meeting. N. I. C. E. stands for Novelists Inspiring Christian Excellence. It’s our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers—except that Tamara doesn’t write fiction. She writes true stories—“narrative non-fiction,” as she refers to it. In a blog called My Blonde Life in the Hood she tells stories about her neighborhood in North Minneapolis. It’s a place that reminds me a lot of where we used to live in Indianapolis a few blocks from the Butler University campus. Tamara’s neighborhood is racially, economically and spiritually diverse, full of real people, not statistics or headlines. She and her family have made it a point to get to know those people and be available to them for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
I am racist.
I think we all are racist. In this world we cannot help but be influenced by the color of our skin. Much as I love my brothers and sisters at Solid Word Bible Church where we worshipped when we lived in Indianapolis, my white skin has given me different life experiences than their black skin. I cannot help but view the world from inside my white body.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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