National Service Learning Conference

I’m heading downtown today with 11 students to hear Naomi Tutu and Dorothy Cotton speak of race, peace, and reconciliation. I realized this morning that the students coming along have no historical background on the importance of these two women. I guess our mini- bus ride will include a crash course in comparative history between the United States Civil Rights movement and the South African Anti-Apartheid movement….along with navigating Atlanta highways in an oversized vehicle.

Common historical narrative tells us that the US Civil Rights movement inspired the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. However, black South African protest in the 1950′s sparked the imagination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in America. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how these two stories of struggle, resistance, hope, and restoration intersect and overlap. Stay tuned.

 

Naomi Tutu Photo Naomi Tutu
Naomi Tutu, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is associate director of the Office of International Programs at Tennessee State University, founder of the Tutu Foundation, and author of Words of Desmond Tutu and I Don’t Think of You as Black: Honest Conversations on Race. Born in South Africa during apartheid, she is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on gender, race and international relations and a recipient of numerous awards. She has been a consultant in sub-Saharan Africa and in South Africa on educational and professional opportunities for black women and has taught courses on development, gender, and education in Africa, at the Universities of Hartford and Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina.
Dorothy Cotton Dorothy Cotton
Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for twelve years. Working closely with Dr. King, Dorothy served on his executive staff and was part of his entourage to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize.  She served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

 

“Leadership is not for sissies”

So, it’s been a great week. Is it because I haven’t been in the classroom much? Rubbing shoulders with philanthropists and politicians? Hard to say.  On Thursday afternoon, I was thoroughly impressed by the humble demeanor  and playfulness of F.W. de Klerk. Moxie gets a little star-struck at times, not by A-list actors or musicians (well maybe a little), but face-to-face with a former head of state? I melted.

My question: “When did your ideology change about blacks and whites in South Africa? When did you come to realize that all should be equal under the law?”

His Answer: “It wasn’t a road to Damascus moment, rather it was a gradual change over time. Ask me that in the Q&A, rush right up there, and I will give you a fuller answer.”


Below is a blurry shot I took while I listened to a rather ignorant undergrad ask the President his thoughts on a federalized Africa. OBVIOUSLY, de Klerk debunked the idea by praising Africa for its love of multi-culturalism. He reminded this young man of how difficult it has been for the relatively homogeneous EU to become federalized, a tremendous continent with varied regions would not benefit from such a system.

While I wasn’t talking to the guest of honor, I snooped around a little and learned that he had flown in that morning on his private plane from Naples, Florida (we have so much in common), and now that he is retired, he spends much of his time on a yacht in the Mediterranean. Must be nice.


Before the speech we had about an hour to kill, and since it feels like spring in Atlanta these days, my professor, another former student, and I basked in the sun and discussed black nationalism. (glorious) Our question: Can you be a black nationalist and believe that race is socially constructed?” In other words, if race is a created concept, how can one promote black unity?

My initial response: I thought all educated people believe that race is a social construct, certainly it is not biological, is there something beyond the obvious binary?

Dr. R: Saying that race is socially constructed says something about power. It means that it is something created by human choice. In the case of race, if white people created an oppressive system, then they created the social construct, which undermines black nationalism…

To introduce his speech, Bridging the Gap: Globalization without Isolation,” he told the audience that after talking to us “students” beforehand, he realized that we wanted to hear about South Africa’s radical transformation over the past 20 years. He was right, and what an incredible formative assessment! He proceeded to discuss the role of leadership in a time of dramatic change. He gave eight qualities leaders need to possess to be successful. I’ve c&ped some of my notes below…

  1. Impartial, dispassionate assessment of reality: relentless self-assessment

South African context: The Nationalist Party could have held on, they could have endured sanctions and international isolation, but they decided  to admit and confront the fear that they had failed to bring justice to South Africa, that their policies had led to manifest injustice, and they had to change course. In history, we know that the prospect of imminent disaster has not always caused leaders to change; this is a hard decision since resistance to change is deeply seeded in all of us. We naturally fear unknown, unchartered territory.

2. Take calculated risks.

It is riskiest to do nothing

3. Avoid temptation of pretending to change

Ex: Gorbachev’s perestroika—didn’t want to admit that there was something deeply wrong with communism, tried to simply alter it to make it better, but that didn’t work

Ex: white South Africa fooled themselves into thinking they could reform softly to avoid dramatic decisions and risks.

They had to abandon separateness and embrace inclusivity. Only then could they initiate real change.

4. Real and achievable vision that gives direction and purpose

You need to be able to measure your progress and convince others to come along with you.

5. Outstanding communication skills

6. Good timing

Even if you are right, if you have the wrong timing, it can be ineffective

You can’t move so far ahead that your followers can’t hear or see you

7. Leaders must persevere until they achieve their objectives

There will be far reaching and unforeseen consequences to decisions, and you will feel like you are steering a canoe in a storm. Many crises will cause or almost cause the canoe to capsize, must learn to endure and react

8. Plan for his/her own departure, leadership is not for sissies!

Accept that change is a never-ending business

Biggest take away: De Klerk’s greatest achievement and legacy is his surrender of control

Let’s get our hands dirty…talking about race

This is a 7th grade student’s submission for the Power over Prejudice Summit.  I’m getting excited…

“W” is a great school, but we are all guilty of sometimes thinking unkind thoughts about people who are different from us. We are not a racist school, but sometimes we don’t really take the time to learn about other people. Sometimes we just immediately judge them as weird, because of their race or family or social economic background. We are so privileged, and sometimes we get a little too focused in our iWhatevers and our designer clothes and the people who have them and the people who don’t that we don’t look at the person inside.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink there is a study where participants are given words such as good and trustworthy and are given two pictures, one of a white person and one of an African American person. Participants are asked to click on the picture they feel better represents the characteristic. They are just given a second to click on it. Malcolm Gladwell, who is half Jamaican, found he had a slight white preference. This study tells us that even if you think you aren’t racist, your subconscious might tell you otherwise. This is a result of all the conditioning we receive from the outside world that tells us so. I know the truth won’t always be easy, but I want to get my hands dirty talking about controversial issues.

If I get chosen for the conference, I like forward to meeting people who are different than me as well as bonding with the other girl. I also want to able to teach “W” people about what I learned. I want to become a better person, so I will be able to make the world a better place.

*school name omitted, emphasis added by Moxie

A Prayer for Easter

Today I missed my family. Sometimes it is hard to be so far away, especially when my mom says things like “when you are not here, it feels like something is missing.” It’s hardest on holidays when I get phone calls from my family together on their way to be with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Being together with such a group reminds me that I am a part of something greater than myself. They are so much a part of who I am; it feels unnatural to be distant from them.

But as I arrived at church early this morning to set up, I felt a different kind of family. For me, the ritual of preparing for worship tangibly (setting out communion wine, ordering the nursery for babies, hanging signs directing newcomers) helps me prepare emotionally to worship together with my church family. Especially today. As I greeted dear friends and welcomed visiting families, we prepared together to come to the table and eat, to sing, and to hear the message of the gospel, which we need to hear again and again. As I offered Christ’s blood shed for the sins of each communing man and woman today and shared tears with many friends, I knew I was just where I needed to be. In serving communion to people I know and love, people with stories of pain, people with stories of joy, I found myself using the napkin to dry my face as well as the wine cup.  Today, this was my family. He is risen, indeed.

As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, our hearts are stirred to praise, but we are reminded that there is redemption left to come. We can rejoice in the “already,” but we still feel pangs of the “not yet.” For me, I feel this especially on occasions when we are called to joy. As I rejoice in my church family, I miss sharing in the meal with those I love who are not here. But I am thankful that God reminds me of his love, and how he continually shows me that he is at work–sometimes mightily, sometimes softly. As we look at the ways He has moved mightily in our church since it’s beginning, we are humbled by His grace and hopeful for what is to come. Here, I am a part of kingdom work, and its beauty captured me today.

Anne’s congregational prayer articulated my heart, and I had to share it. These days, I’m finding deep strength in praying words others have prayed.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Today is a day of hope, renewal…LIFE.  Jesus, we celebrate you!

Because you have been raised from the dead, everything changes.

Thank you that on the cross, You dealt with all that distorts and defaces human life. And Lord Jesus, we acknowledge you are on your way back to put all things right and redress all wrongs.

But God, for some of us, even when we are celebrating or enjoying something good, our pain is still with us.  Pain of grief, loss, guilt, disappointment, loneliness and fear.

We all find our lives in a mess of one sort or another:

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.

We are perplexed and not sure what to do, but we aren’t driven to despair because we know You know what to do.

We are hunted down, but are never abandoned by You.

We get struck down, but we are not destroyed.

So, even though it often looks like things are falling apart, You are making new life, and not a day goes by without You unfolding more grace.

While we realize the darkness is not yet over, may we also remember that the darkness of trials is not out of reach from your Redemptive hand.

And remind us that these hard times are tiny compared to the coming good times, the extravagant celebration prepared for us…

God, we know that as You raised the Lord Jesus, you will raise us also. Thank you! And thank you for the knowledge that those we love, who have died in the Lord, will live; their bodies will rise again — Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.

Not only do You promise to swallow up death forever.
Isaiah says that you, The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;

Thank you for your tender love.

Because this gospel is true, free my friends and me from the pettiness and emptiness of living for ourselves.

God, give us courage to see and feel our sins against you.  In the face of all this amazing truth of your love for us, we still decide to please & protect ourselves – to do what seems best for our time, our schedule, our feelings and our advancement.

We neglect those who are hurting around us.

We often live according to the patterns of this broken world, trusting in our own words, strengths and abilities.

We doubt your power and presence – the same power that brought you back to life.

We ask for your forgiveness.

It is your kindness, Lord that leads us to acknowledge these sins against you.  Since you don’t forsake those who seek you, we come to you now, in need of cleansing and renewal.

Thank you, Lord, that it is your grace alone that sets us free from these sins! Your life, death and resurrection bring us into your heavenly family and forever place us in relationship with you. Give us faith and courage to trust these truths and to live by them!

Because of your compelling love, show us how to live for you… Mold us into a body of people who are aware of this beautiful Story of Redemption you are writing.  Show us what it means to wait on You in the midst of our stories and to wait with others in theirs.  Stir in us all the faith to remember how You have worked redemption in the past.  Let the knowledge of your Risen Son propel us out — to go into our community in the confidence that You are at work, that Jesus is Lord, that the Spirit can and does heal, renew and transform broken lives.

Amen.

–Anne Henegar

Good Friday

A Prayer for the Church and the Nation


Loving Father, You created man and woman to be in relationship with you and placed us in this world giving us dominion to extend your holy reign upon the earth. When we turned away from you and lost our way, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to make a Way for us to return, and You gave us Your Holy Spirit to guide us on that Way. In Your Son, Jesus, our relationship with You has been restored and our vocation to extend Your Kingdom on this earth has been renewed.


Lord, we confess that too often we have relied upon ourselves and our own strength and have been guided more often by our affections than Your Holy Spirit. Even in our redeemed lives, we become distracted by this world and forget that You alone can save, You alone can redeem, and only Your perfect love can transform the nations.


In Your mercy, please send overwhelming conviction of sin, deep brokenness and genuine
repentance among Your people. Grant to us the true godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Fill us with holy love and reverence for Your name. Purify the Church, the Bride of Christ, for His Glorious Second Coming. Prepare and cleanse us for the marriage supper of the Lamb of God.
Convict us and cleanse us.

Copied from http://www.resurrectiontexas.com/images/HenrysFiles/A%20Prayer%20for%20the%20Church%20and%20the%20Nation.pdf

Global and Local Human Trafficking

So, we’ve been talking about modern day slavery in my 7th grade History class. I may be a Radiohead poser, but I really and truly loved In Rainbows. Remember the song “All I need?” Check out the video that parallels a young American boy and a young boy in Southeast Asia forced into labor.

All I Need

Although child labor is certainly a huge issue in the world, my eyes have been opened recently to another form of slavery; sex trafficking in THIS city and state. Yesterday, we had two staffers from StreetGrace Ministries come talk to us about trafficking in Georgia. I was shocked to learn more about how trafficking could affect my students.

Did you know…

human trafficking is the exploitation by force, fraud or coercion of vulnerable people for forced labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sex operations

400 people (mostly girls) are trafficked (bought and sold) in GEORGIA every year?

the average age for sex trafficking is 12-14?

the #1 way to get out of the trafficking industry is death…the average lifespan for someone in this industry is 31.

Atlanta is a “hub” for this industry. With a huge airport, crime, drugs, and the adult entertainment industry, our city has created the “perfect storm” for child prostitution.

Here’s more information on child prostitution in Atlanta

I’m so proud of the way this issue has touched my students. We plan on taking action.

Monday’s Lesson Plan

I love moments in class when students learn something really important, and a lightbulb goes off. For example, learning the meaning of the word suffrage.

Check out some students here who did not have the privilege of a good education and signed a petition to end women’s suffrage.

I can’t wait to show this to my classes on Monday morning!

End Women’s Suffrage

Korean Relations

In 1953 North and South Korea signed an armistice. That ceasefire still stands today; they never signed a peace treaty. In other words, they agreed to stop killing each other, but the issues remain unresolved. Kim Il-Sung and the North Koreans wanted to unite the nation under communism while the South Koreans resisted. In my World Cultures class, my students read about how Korea went from the united golden age of the Silla dynasty to today, where guards face each other 24/7 on the DMZ.

How does that happen? How do we move so far apart from the people closest to us that we have to carry loaded weapons around just to protect ourselves?

Hear this from James 4 (ESV)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”

Our textbook says that “fear and suspicion” keep North and South Korea from uniting. It also says they hope to be one country one day. It seems there is a tension more powerful than the electric barbed wire that physically divides. However, the longer they remain separated, the harder reunification will be. But what is the underlying difference? The Iron Curtain has come down, but what about the fence?

“You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?”

In our relationships, what will it take for us to put our guns down, to seek reconciliation, to humble ourselves? Why is it so hard to admit we are wrong, say we are sorry, and forgive? Sometimes it is the silence that keeps us from understanding each other. Often what remains unsaid is louder than what is said.

North Korea, for all of its craziness, isn’t so different from us. We want to believe that we can be self-sufficient, isolated, and ok on our own. We don’t want to recognize our need for something beyond ourselves. Somehow the slightest movement toward each other is enough to see that God is already there, already working toward redemption. Here’s the hopeful part…

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Old Stuff, New Thoughts.

Youth protest

Today when reading Nelson Mandela’s first speech after his release from prison in 1990 out loud to my class, I was sideswiped by my unexpected tears.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Although powerful words, my deep reaction struck me as odd because I’ve been teaching this same stuff for 5 years now. Maybe time number 6 is when it really sunk in. Or more likely, my flesh and blood experience in South Africa this summer touched me more deeply than I thought. It was comforting to know I’m not too cynical for this story.

I’ve taken two African-American history classes with a white woman who went to prep school and UVA. When I asked her how she found herself with a PhD in African-American history, she said “I’ve always been drawn to the struggle.” I think that’s how I feel about South Africa. The redemptive themes, the non-violent civil disobedience, the peaceful, patient dissent—I wish I had been there. I’m drawn to the struggle, but I’m skeptical still.

Here’s another tidbit I wrote over the summer.

As a (self-proclaimed) historian, I’ve been that person in our group who asks wayyyy to many questions. I’ve loved this opportunity to learn more about this unique nation and how the system of Apartheid continues to oppress and threaten the livelihood of many South Africans decades after it legally ended. I saw this in Capetown as well as in Mamelodi (the township we visited in Pretoria). The most obvious yet also most powerful aspect of this situation is that Apartheid is not exactly history in the traditional sense of the word. I mean, Nelson Mandela was elected in 1994. Clearly, the wounds are fresh, which causes whites to tread lightly in Mamelodi since race relations are still excruciating. Curfews, passbooks, massacres, The Nationalist Party, and District 6 are all recent memories for older generations. For some, like Pastor Vincent, it is still too painful to talk about. However, seeing the ways in which formerly oppressed people are seeking forgiveness and peacemaking here is a clear sign that God is transforming hearts.

Here’s the ultimate question. So what DOES it look like for mostly white Americans coming to Africa? What does help mean? I’ve learned that the white church here is lazy. Racial reconciliation is not even on the radar for the Powerhouse church because it seems so out of the realm of possibility. However, we know we serve a God who delights in proving the doubters wrong. I hope they are wrong.

According to the Africa Revolution folks, help looks like empowerment not paternalism, grassroots change rather than political protest,  partnership not leadership. Authentic relationships,  dignity, prayer. But I have to admit, it makes me uncomfortable. Walking around the township I wish my skin was darker (not a new feeling for me). It still feels like we have the answers. I believe that white skin and western values are not the answer, only Christ is the answer. This truth is more complicated than it sounds, maybe because colonialism and westernization have not completely disappeared, even from our own post-modern hearts. But I am hopeful… because from my limited view, this group does not look like The Poisonwood Bible, or The Berlin Conference, or The Dutch Reformed Church.  It looks like Christ-centered love of neighbors, acknowledging dependence on something greater than themselves, and it looks like God is at work.

Tim Keller

I’d really like to know more about his faults…(besides the abundance of typos in his published Bible studies….but I assume interns proof those), because he seems just incredible.

This month Redeemer is offering a bunch of Tim Keller’s sermons for free because of the RENEW campaign. They are currently doing a series on the Gospel, Hope, and the World. Sermon titles here are about hope…for the world, life, work, family, and the poor. 

I’m not sure why sermons aren’t always free…but enjoy!

Here is the link:
http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=34