Hey Plunge Peeps!
I am so glad you are JUMPING IN for this month’s PLUNGE – and boy, am I excited for you to hear the heart of my dear friend, Kylla Lanier.
Kylla and I first met when we were both teachers in Broken Arrow Public Schools in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. We taught in two separate buildings, but our students kept telling us that me MUST meet – we were sisters separated at birth!
When we finally met we found that the students were RIGHT! Kylla and I are both passionate people who want to change the world in wild and crazy ways. We immediately became friends and now fondly refer to one another as “sister from another mother.”
I’m going to let Kylla tell you her story – but open your heart and allow her challenges to push you outside your box once again this month.Kylla is a strong advocate and abolitionist. She is fighting modern day slavery in radical ways. And now she is going to push you, Plunge Peeps, to fight for justice in your own cities, your own homes, your own churches, and your own schools.
If this is your first time reading, The Plunge is a monthly blog I post – and each month there are three challenges to get you outside your comfort zone and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
This month I asked Kylla to be our guest blogger – and I am excited and thrilled for you to hear from her heart.
I am a revolutionary.
I believe I can change the world. When I was a teenager, I adopted every cause as my own from saving the whales to being anti-fur to fighting against apartheid in South Africa, to wanting the injustice of poverty eradicated and homeless people humanized and seen as our brothers and sisters. I put out an underground newspaper at my conservative Christian school calling for a radical faith, to be revolutionary, to be a rebel for Christ.
Then, due to a number of circumstances, as a young adult, I rejected God outright and took on a more militant stance toward stamping out injustice. As I studied Latin American politics in college, I longed to be in the mountains fighting alongside the guerrilla army for justicia, tierra y libertad (justice, land and liberty). I moved to El Salvador, and God got a hold of me once again and broke my heart for His children. He helped me see that He is the answer to the world’s problems, and He needs our hands and feet to be the vehicles He uses to address them. I worked with gang members and street kids; I just loved them and tried to meet their basic needs as I could. As an adult, I have worked with teens as a teacher and mentor. I have loved the ones that were at-risk the most. They touched my heart, and they became my revolutionary cause. The many injustices they had suffered cut me to the quick, and I wanted to fight for them. And now in my job for Truckers Against Trafficking, I fight the grave injustice of human trafficking.
Truckers Against Trafficking is a non-profit that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to recognize the signs of human trafficking and to respond appropriately. We have trucker-specific training materials and work with law enforcement and the trucking industry across the country to close loopholes to traffickers. The American trucking industry is now one of the most mobilized forces in the fight against this grave crime. (Feel free to check out our website to find out how you can get involved or just to learn more! http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org/get-involved/ )
We live in a world steeped in injustice. There is poverty, violence and extreme inequality, based on gender, nationality, class, race and educational level. There is famine, war, terror, grief and impossible odds stacked against so many. And when I see that, it breaks my heart, because it is NOT God’s plan. It is institutionalized and accepted injustice. It can be overwhelming when you look at all of the problems, but we are not left without a solution. We ARE the solution!
Many of you are already taking small steps in this fight. You serve others in a variety of ways. Maybe you serve in the church or are part of a mission’s team. Perhaps you work with Habitat for Humanity building homes for the poor. Or maybe you mentor, work with children through Big Brothers Big Sisters, are a foster parent, teach literacy, collect food for your local food bank and/or work there. Maybe you host fundraisers for organizations that are on the front lines of fighting injustice. Each of these efforts feeds into the larger picture. Each of them helps to level the playing field, so injustice doesn’t have a place to flourish. Whether you’re building a child’s self esteem and confidence so he or she won’t be taken in by the lies of a trafficker or feeding the hungry so they won’t be forced to find other ways to feed themselves … whether you’re living out the love of Christ so people experience the love of God or whether you’re keeping people from living on the streets or helping people gain an education, these are all “revolutionary” actions that disrupt the status quo of only looking out for ourselves, only caring about self, only seeking our own betterment.
Our God is revolutionary. He is justice, righteousness and peace. He weeps at the abuses of power that strip millions of their dignity in our world. He weeps for His church that is slow to respond to those injustices, and His heart breaks at our role in causing those pains. He understands why people rise up in revolution to overthrow governments or unjust systems. He doesn’t agree with all the actions, but He understands, because He created us to be His image-bearers. And when that is taken from people through imbalances of power and gross injustices by those power bearers who play god, there is a gaping hole that people seek to fill.
Our God has called us to be revolutionary … to seek justice, to love others, to meet needs. And if you love someone, wouldn’t you help them when they have a need? When a loved one is crying, don’t you try to make them feel better? If your friend is hungry, wouldn’t you offer them food? I think that is what makes Christianity — when truly lived out — so radical. EVERYONE is our loved one. WE are called to love others…and it isn’t just a handful of others we already know. It is literally everyone. And I love that.
Do a Google search for local organizations that work with at-risk youth, the homeless population, disabled veterans, the elderly, the immigrant community, a basic needs provider, etc. and make a list of them.
Call or email the organization that God lays on your heart or that you are most drawn to and ask what they need.
If they need food items, organize a food drive.
If they need volunteers, commit a few hours or your time.
If they need baked goods, bake.
Help meet their needs in whatever way you can. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Every breath each of us take is a gift from God and is to be used in a manner that brings Him glory. Eph 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” And in Col. 3:17, we’re told, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
We honor God when we take those small steps that follow in His footsteps and fulfill the purpose for which He’s created us. As we surrender our lives to Him and ask for Him to lead and guide us in our actions and words, He takes each of those small steps, as He did the loaves and small fish, and multiplies them to feed many. It’s His work, first and foremost, and we are privileged to be allowed a part in His work. When we allow Him to work through us, we help bring about His will here on earth, even as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. And that is totally revolutionary.
Read the book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Couch.
Recommend it for a book club or read it with one of your close friends or your spouse, choose it as a small group study.
Make notes and discuss it. This is a powerful book, and you will need to talk it out.
Recognize where you may have abused your power or have benefited from your privilege (and trust me, it is more common than you think) This is convicting, but it also helps you see things clearly and enables you to do better and live more like God.
When I look at all of the injustices in the world, almost all of them are man-made. We created the injustices, and/or we have accepted them as “just the way it is” and have allowed them to become normalized. But just as the injustices have been man-made, so to can the overhaul of those systems and power imbalances be.
“Like Him, we are meant to pour out our power fearlessly, spend our privilege recklessly, and leave our status in the dust of our headlong pursuit of love. We are meant to do all of this like Him, because far more than we ever dreamed or feared, we are made like Him, and like Him we will rise. He is the God we are meant to play.” Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power p. 281
Make a commitment to financially support a justice-seeking organization or initiative.
There are so many extremely worthy causes doing incredible work to right the wrongs in society. Working for a non-profit, I know that funding is a constant need, and, as Christians, we need to step up and put our money where our mouth is. We need to support the work of those God has called to the front lines.
These organizations are able to do the work they do, and help those in need, as long as they receive financial support from those who believe in what they’re doing. It could be $10 or $20 a month or your tax return once a year.
It is important to give. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 8:13-15, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
According to Deut. 16:17, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you.” And Acts 20:35 tells us, “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
As Christians we have a call on our lives to stop these injustices. We have a calling to live as Christ, and emulate Him and His actions. I am a revolutionary for Christ. I believe I can change the world. I believe you can, too. Let’s get to it, friends!
I hope you enjoyed reading Kylla’s post. I wanted to jump in and recommend my own book on change – although I haven’t yet read Kylla’s recommendation, I am anxious to dive in and learn more.
My recommendation is a book called Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together.
Amazon describes the book like this:
A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery. An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel. A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream. A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.
It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana…and an East Texas honky-tonk…and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda…an upscale New York gallery…a downtown dumpster…a Texas ranch.
Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.
If this is your first Plunge, sign up to get these e-mails directly to your inbox. I also blog regularly about life, love, and the pursuit of the best day ever. Check out my post about The Last Photograph with my Father or my Oprah Appearance to get a feel for what my blog is all about!