Wednesday, August 31, 2011

dear white person

post written by a friend in our Divided by Faith book group:

Dear White Person,
Thank you for the letter that you wrote to us, I can’t even pretend that I understand all of the things that you are feeling after our discussion. I do know that as a black person who has never had to face being accused of doing something that I am innocent of. I like you must rely on the things that I have read about and heard about.
Much of what you are saying would not fit any shoe that I have ever worn that also goes for many people of my race.
I can’t and won’t condemn anyone for what they believe.
After reading the scenario that you presented I tried to put myself in that scene and it made me angry also. We must find a way to put our anger aside so that we can move forward.
I will commit to you as a black person I will speak up when I hear someone from my race that has something negative to say about a White person no matter what the consequences are. That is what I have asked you to do in our discussions and I would not ask you to do anything that I would not do. I believe in the saying “What you permit you promote”.
I think that if we have the ability to get past the anger and we are willing to take the risks by committing to doing everything that is possible to reconcile with each other.
I know that as a person who believes in forgiving and the beliefs that I have been taught about God and Jesus, we have the ability to make a difference in the views of Black and White people everywhere.
This journey is one that none of us should take alone, so if there are any question that you may have that will help you understand more about me please ask. I will do the same. I truly believe that as we move forward the understanding of each other will be the key to developing our friendships and respect for all.
A Black Person

Friday, August 26, 2011

dear black person

I'm reading Divided by Faith by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith with a group of 6 black friends and 6 white friends. We've met once so far for discussion, and now we are reading chapters 3 and 4 as we prepare to meet again. In chapter 3, there is reference to two 1971 Christianity Today articles where a black person wrote a "Dear White Person" letter, and a white person responded with a "Dear Black Person" letter. I haven't stopped thinking about our group's discussion from this past week. I decided to write my own personal "Dear Black Person" letter this week:

Dear Black Person,

The other night in a Divided by Faith book discussion, I heard one black group member tell our black-white group that white people who have eyes to see the injustices of our racialized society must not be silent but begin to speak up even if that might mean rejection and persecution. I heard him speak of the importance for us whites to join with the black community in the pursuit of justice. I was in a smaller group discussion that same evening when another black group member talked about the distrust that blacks often have of whites. He spoke of how races sometimes come together for a cause, but the black community really doesn’t trust that the white group members will come in very deep, stay very long, or risk very much.

As I consider these comments, I know that the shoe fits me. I've too often been quiet, absent, or lacked much commitment toward change. I’ve now been trying to create an analogy in my mind that would help me put myself in your shoes.

I’m imagining myself being jailed but innocent. As I sit in the jail, the jailer, over time, becomes friendly toward me. She brings me a few cookies from the break room, she begins to listen and show care as I tell my story. We begin to form trust and a friendship. We learn that we are both Christians. About that time, I begin to ask her if she could do anything to help me…speak to someone about my innocence, advocate and take up my case, do something on the outside that would help me gain my freedom. Perhaps at this point, she stops coming by my cell. Or maybe she holds up her hand and says that it might cost her too much in time, reputation, money, or that she could risk losing her job if she stirred anything up. Maybe she tells me she is powerless to help. She continues to be friendly toward me, but I am left in jail, innocent of any crime, and I wonder how much she really does care about me or care about justice in the justice system for which she works. I grow more and more disappointed and frustrated with her kind words but her unwillingness to act for my freedom. I’m now angry at the system but also the individuals who benefit from the system and who do not stand up for the rights of the innocent, especially when they voice that they are Christ-followers.

I don’t know if this even comes close to describing what you might feel about whites as you seek the freedom and justice you deserve as a human being. Perhaps this analogy breaks down in several places... you'll have to let me know. What this little scenario does do for me is help me ask important questions of myself, and pray important prayers.

The questions:

-Do I care? How do I show I care? If I don’t care, what keeps me from caring?

-Do I really believe in my friend’s innocence and rights?

-Do I even remotely understand the depth of racialization around me and embedded in me? Do I realize the prison created by it and the loss that has resulted for everyone, including myself?

-Have I arranged my days in order to know people of color as friends, to observe, listen, and learn from them?

- Am I willing to act, even if it means risk, makes me counter-cultural, or takes me away from the status quo?

-If I do act, what actions are helpful and effective?

The prayers:

-I ask God to give me his eyes and heart for people.

-I confess that years of privilege have caused me to be both ignorant and arrogant, and to act in an apathetic and superior manner. I ask that you forgive me for this.

-I confess that I grew up seeing the bars between us as normal and justified, and I ask your forgiveness for that.

-I ask for Christ’s power in me so that I might live obediently and courageously to move past the point of that which does not cost me anything.

I'm early on the journey of recognizing the systems and structures of racism that are in place. And although, I'm realizing that together we need to work to change these systems, I still do believe that the answers toward a more just and reconciled community have to do with more than sitting together on committees, writing letters to the editor, gathering together for legislative rallies, or conversing over coffee. Those things are good, but I’m learning that reconciling work begins and ends with Jesus and involves building authentic relationships that live and grow together in Christ and with one another. The outflow is this Christian community reaching out together to proclaim and demonstrate Christ and to wholistically restore our neighborhoods and communities. I want to be a part of that with you. The journey of my heart and life have a long way to go, but I trust Christ for the grace needed, and I look to you to continue helping me walk forward together in truth, love, and grace.

A White Person

blood is life

So, I'm $250 into raising money by donating my plasma at our local Biolife center twice a week. The money (hopefully about $3,000 by Mar. '13) will go toward our family's intended trip to go to Haiti in 2013 so that we might proclaim and serve Christ with UCI friends there.

I only gave blood once 30 years ago before this past month, so this has been a stretching experience for me. As I lie on the bed donating, I have about 40 minutes to read, think, and pray as I pump my right hand and watch my blood travel through a clear tube. I also have clear vision of my three neighbors' blood collecting and spinning through the machines across from me.

This experience reminds me of some Scriptures....

"For the life of a creature is in the is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." (Lev. 17:11)
"God presented him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." (Rom.3:25)
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)

It seems fitting to pray Jesus over the people of Haiti, for people in need of plasma, and for all people everywhere as I watch this blood flow through tubes and then collect and spin in the machines. Watching this deep red life flow from everyone's arms reminds me of our sameness as people, the precious and fragile state of life, and our common need, every one of us, for the beautiful, sacrificial blood of Jesus to forgive and redeem our lives.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Update from our friends in Haiti

Dear friends;
We want to thank you very much for all the prayers and support and friendship we received during
our time of grieving for my mom’s passing. In both countries we were surrounded by our Christian brothers and sisters. It was so good to feel loved and cared for. In the US, we had a beautiful,
Christ-filled funeral for Mom. I got to see all of my immediate family and lots of the extended
family. In Haiti, we have been receiving visitors all day since we came back. Some of the most
touching have been the kids in the feeding centers who came and sang for us, most of our youth
group kids coming to give hugs, pastors who came hours just to be able to pray with us, and especially JeanJean’s loving family. Praise the Lord for the family of God.
We were going to write a newsletter back at the beginning of July because there was so much to
report. It didn’t happen all month and now we have even more news! I’ll try to be concise in reporting all the great things God has been doing
On July 1, UCC school had their first kindergarten graduation. The kids sang, danced, recited, did
skits and showed off their English and arts and crafts. We are flooded with applications for next
year’s term. People are amazed at how the kids have learned. Can’t wait until this year starts with
a new grade added!
Andre Charles and his wife were baptized! (If you haven’t heard the incredible story of God’s lifechanging power and forgiveness in Andre’s life, you may go to our 3/27/2010 newsletter at our
website: It was our church’s first baptism since we began services in Feb. We had 12 people that were baptized! It was extraordinary to see JeanJean baptize
this new brother in Christ who had been so lost before. And, on Sept. 15, JeanJean will be performing the wedding service for Andre’s daughter while Kristie was asked to be the maren or
‘godmother.’ Andre said, “I did not know the freedom that is in Christ.” We praise our wonderful
Father for his transforming power through Jesus.
Pastor Marvil from Cerca la Sous has been faithfully walking 13 hours to come to JeanJean’s
seminars each week for the past 3 years. For his perseverance and servant heart, he received a
brand-new motorcycle from Santa Cruz Bible Church!
Westgate church of San Jose has been coming to Caiman, Haiti for 5 years now. Each year they
come back with more exciting ways to help in Haiti. Last year, Carl Crizer, an engineer saw the
deplorable condition that our community water system was in. For a year he has held that in his
heart and researched ways to fix the system. Mind you, this is a huge system that provides thousands of people with water. It has been broken and unreliable for years. He and his team came in
with heavy-duty tools and were able to fix it! All the communities rejoiced!
Meredith Drive Church of Des Moines and the VandeZandschulps from Sioux City have put in 3
wells into our communities! Water is a precious thing.
I can’t list all the people that participated in putting in 219 cement floors and 22 houses and 5
churches for people in need.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all
creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord“ Romans 8: 37-19
News from the Mompremiers Aug. 18, 2011
Mompremier address: UCI's donation address:
Unit 1072--UCI PO Box 51
3170 Airmans Drive Orange City, IA 51041
Ft. Pierce, FL 34946 *** MFI charges $1.50/lb to ship items into Haiti
Dipoma time!
Baptism at the river
Water, sweet water!
Community water system
repaired! Questions or comments? Email:
New Hope church accepted the challenge to help with a kids’ conference in July. My kids in the nutrition center have
asked me for years to hold a camp for them. This year we did it. The kids had a blast. They said 3 days
was too short—but I think it was just about right !
We also had a lot of interest in a youth camp this year. So much interest, in fact, that we had to split the
kids into 2 different camps! One was held in July and the other is coming up in Sept. It was during the
2nd day of the youth camp in July that we received the phone call about my mom’s death. We had to
leave immediately due to flight schedules and such. But, we are happy to report that the camp continued
on. New Hope youth group and team remained in Haiti and served in the camp. When I got home, my
youth group was full of praise about how awesome the camp was. 49 kids came to Christ or re-dedicated
their lives to Him during this time. My youth kids and the UCI staff stepped up and put on a terrific
camp while we stayed in the US. Isn’t that great?! I tell you, though—I can’t wait until Sept. so that I
can participate in the next youth camp, too.
Summer is a busy time for teams and projects. Our thanks to all of the people that helped make these
things possible: women’s, youth, kids’, pastors’, ecology conference; medical and dental clinics, painting
and construction, garden work, VBS, welding of more benches for the school and church, prayer walks,
food and clothing distribution, electricity projects, and lots of good cross-cultural friendships. God bless
Perhaps the biggest news we have right now is another praise from God. After 4 years of praying and
waiting on God’s perfect timing, UCI will be beginning construction on a Bible trade school!! WestGate
church is partnering with UCI to begin this exciting program. We will be breaking ground next week! I
can’t tell you how much it means to the people here to know that there will be a university for this community. Kids will be able to further their education without having to go to Port-au-Prince or Cap Haitian where it is so expensive to live and commute. To show their appreciation, the community and several churches from near and far are offering to give of their labor to help with this school. Communities
and individuals that have received nutrition centers or cement floors or churches or wells want to be able
to show their appreciation by giving back. UCI is readily accepting their gifts because we want people to
see this as a community program—not just for UCI. Keep praying that the construction goes well and
that we find the right teachers and administrators for our school!
Thank you again for your faithfulness in prayer and the love you have shown to my family!
JeanJean, Kristie, Tana and Kerri Mompremier

Monday, August 15, 2011

Global Leadership Summit: Map Making

When responding to what theme the GLS had this year, I've heard "Action" and "Do Something" from several participants.

As I thought about this "action" theme, I also remember Seth Godin saying "There are no maps" during his segment of the GLS. This reminded me of a book that I had read a few years back: Missional Map-Making: Skills for Leading in Times of Transition written by Alan Roxburgh.

I opened that book back up today. It is reinforcing what I felt at the Summit...that many actions, if they are based on our internalized maps of yesterday, will no longer work. It is a new day, where new map-making is required because our old maps cannot solve the challenges of the new context in which we find ourselves.

A few quotes from the book:

"If we don't feel the depths of our own crisis like the scientist did in her field, we won't feel compelled to think beyond our existing maps. Without this deep, visceral sense that something unimaginable is taking place in the world, we will remain committed to our established certainties and try to make them work again; we will stay inside our established categories, believing that they only need to be touched up or reworked."

"The path forward will require that we learn to do things that will feel odd and even counter-intuitive to the leadership habits and skills bequeathed to us by modernity. Rather than grand schemes (vision and mission statements) or attention to the the usual objective indicators of success, we will need to become comfortable with living in a world where we don't have the answers but build communities of dialogue, both inside and outside the church, in which ordinary men and women discover that the imagination for thriving in this new space is among them in their everyday lives."

"The new maps are made on the journey; they can't be drawn ahead of time. On this journey, we'll need to let go of some common-sense convictions and address anxieties about not being in control."

One of my action steps after the Summit is to re-read this book. As I consider next steps of action, I need to better understand the maps I've been shaped by, the changing landscape around me, and the cultivating process of making new maps for the future.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Top Summit Phrases

My top ten Global Leadership Summit 2011 Phrases:

10. "It's always darkest before the dawn." (during opening video of Summit)
9. "I'd much rather deal with anger than apathy." -Michelle Rhee
8. "We wait to get picked. Stop it. Pick yourself." -Seth Godin
7. "Move toward the funk fast." -Bill Hybels
6. "You are the result of a grand conspiracy of love." -Hon. Cory Booker
5. "If failure is not an option, then neither is success." -Seth Godin
4. "What does a person do when truth/reality comes to them?" -Dr. Henry Cloud
3. "If you want to see the land filled with water, dig some ditches." -Steven Furtick (2 Kings 3:9-20)
2. "The crucifixion was the event that connected humility with greatness." -John Dickson
1. "Silence your body to listen.. Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts. Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating. Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit. In silence, you leave many and be with the One." -Mama Maggie Gobran

If you want to read more complete notes from this year's summit, you can find them at What were some powerful phrases that stuck with you?

Global Leadership Summit= FLUID

If I had to choose one prevailing theme for the 2011 Global Leadership Summit, I would choose the word fluid. I could sense this theme during the Summit, and I can sense it in the work I'm doing around our church and community.

The world is changing so rapidly. Things are slippery. We're in such a disorienting, major shift, and the organizational structures that we've known will likely not be the effective structures of the future. This transition that we're in is demanding creativity and differing forms. New kinds of fluid thinking, organizing, leading, networks are emerging as we meet and create the future.

Through the Summit, I could hear the challenge to leaders to take steps into this unknown by...

- believing God for it.
-creating economic and social value everywhere...being an entrepreneur.
-digging ditches...preparing the ground for God's intervening.
-understanding the limitations of predictability and cause/effect.
-taking action to create the future.
-taking small steps with what you have and building off what you find.
-flexibility and multi-dimensional efforts.
- breaking through cultural and racial barriers.
-creating art.
- practicing silence.
- stewarding over vision by guarding mission and joy.
- "poking the box."
-learning humility and vulnerability.
- serving, sacrificing, suffering.
-becoming cultivators of human talent and potential; developing the creative gifts of people.

As I continue to walk into Christian Community Development, this Summit helped give language and affirmation to the direction and findings along the journey. The word of the day may be fluid but Jesus is still rock solid!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Come and listen to what he has done for us. For you.

Need inspiration? I find it every single time I read Katie's blog. Check out her latest post here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Walnut's Neighborhood Party

By Christ's grace and power and by linking arms, people CAN create a vibrant, thriving neighborhood. Tonight's Walnut Party, as a part of the National Neighborhood Night Out, fueled hope for such a vision. A great turn-out; great fun!