About

 

youth pastor in the hood
community activist
director of streetforce youth centre
jewish/canadian
married to an amazing ojibway woman
pacifist
#citycentrechurch
#riversdale
addicted tweeter & instgrammer /// @chrisrandall306
#yxe

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Rachel Held Evans

In early 2013, I was limping having barely survived an incredibly mean-spirited attack on my identity as pastor, christian and christ-follower. In the years previous I had struggled to plot a course that stepped away from a faith defined by exclusivity and culture-war posturing. I didn’t want to challenge anyone’s belief system, but I did try to model another way. I didn’t want a faith that only worked for some but wasn’t open to all. I was beginning to do the hard work of building a theology of reconciliation. Maybe I was too open, or too vulnerable with this work. I felt like the indigenous youth who formed the majority of my ministry needed someone who brought the gospel out to the street, and for better or worse, attempted to live the Jesus-way as a member of their community.

As I stumbled to follow Jesus – I challenged the assumptions so strongly held within evangelicalism. I was vulnerable with my doubts and struggles. I went through an evolution, and was shared openly as I processed. I came to realize that to build your faith upon Christ, you have to be willing to strip everything away until all you have is Him. This is always a messy process. I was open and vulnerable through it all… it was the only way I knew that would allow me to share my faith with youth who faced challenges way bigger than those of a suburban christian kid who decided to become a youth pastor and move into the hood.

Somewhere between insisting that all were welcome around Christ’s table, and modelling the Hebrew prophet’s commitment to social justice and non-violence, I ticked off enough people that I got some pretty nasty hate mail. Maybe it was the blog that I wrote, late in 2012 that encouraged churches to support indigenous issues, or maybe it was the fact that some had found out that I voted differently then most conservative evangelicals did.

With the hate-mail came a lot of ugly attacks, most of them centered around my identity as a follower of Christ. I believed good christians could come to different conclusions on how their faith was lived out, and how it impacted things like voting preferences, and the church’s connection to those outside the community of faith. I never assumed mine was the only position, I felt the path I was walking was what the Spirit asked of me, if others felt their path was different, who was I to disagree.

Accusations, hate-mail, slander, and enduring a public shaming/repenting, all hurt me deeply. I bared up under it, in hope that I could endure to save a ministry that worked closely with vulnerable, street-entrenched youth.

For two years after, I carried a deep wound in my soul. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. Life was heavy. I was hurt and broken. Following what Christ put in my heart had cost me so much.

I don’t remember when I discovered Rachel Held Evans‘s writings. But I do know that during that painful season, the only thing that kept me afloat, the thing that the Spirit used to restore my soul was her work. I never met her, but she had a profound impact on me. Reading Rachel rebuilt my faith. It helped me see through the darkness and pain.. She took me by the hand and brought me to Jesus.

Thank-you Rachel. I can’t express how much your work has meant to me.

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