checking any bags, passports, or anything at all. We took a taxi to Casa Del Migrante, a Catholic migrant shelter. Gilberto Martinez and Father Pat greeted us, and immediately brought us to their office to ask us about our journey. We told them that we came to learn more about immigration, both in the US and Mexico. He shared with us a little about the shelter.
mother, waiting for her to wake up.
are in extreme poverty, and you hear that there’s work in the US. Out of desperation, and to save the life of your family, you explore how you might get to the US. You hear that you must pay a Coyote, and it’s fine, they’re experienced, and they will certainly get you across. You raise money in your community to pay them. But then when you are on the journey you realize that the Coyote, or Guia, doesn’t care about you, but rather cares about the money. If you’re a woman, the Guia rapes you. You didn’t bring enough food and water on the journey. The Guia deserts you, then as you’re trying to find your way without the Guia, a border patrol agent finds you, calls you a whore and a host of racial slurs, sexually assaults you, and throws you violently into a truck. You go into court where you continue to be treated like the scum of the earth, then you’re sent to a part of Mexico you’ve never been to.
our trade policies with Mexico so that we’re not dominating the markets that Mexican farmers depended on, or focusing our enforcement on the criminal activity of smugglers, rather than the immigrants themselves. But before I think as a US citizen, I want to think as a Christian, and as a Christian the main thing I feel is compassion for people who are going through such
an unarmed black boy because he “looked suspicious,” and murdered him – legally. We live in a country where people are being violently and hatefully excluded and punished because they are (or look) “illegal” for trying to provide for their families, and where a man who shoots and kills a teenager is acquitted, and many people are actually celebrating because everything he was doing was “legal.”
Below is the worship order from the Summer Institute so far! Scroll down to learn more about devotion presenters, songs and speakers during this refreshing week of God’s witness to the church!
Center for Reconciliation Summer Institute 2013 Worship Set
Day 1: New Creation
Music: “Awake My Soul” (Rock) – as recorded by Chris Tomlin, led at SI by
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 5:12-21
Devotional: John Perkins
Music: “We the Redeemed” (Rock) – as recorded by Hillsong, led at SI by Menders
Day 2: Lament
Music: “Come Thou Fount” – (Hymn) – led by Angie Hong
Music: “Nothing But the Blood” – (Hymn) – led by Angie Hong
Devotion: Ismael Ruiz Millan
Music: “How Long O Lord” – led at SI by Anna Showalter (Duke Divinity student), piano and Eric Olson-Getty, saxophone
Solo: “Precious Lord” (Hymn) – written by Thomas Dorsey, led at SI by Kimberly Williams accompanied by David Bailey
Music: “Rain On Us” –
(Gospel) – as recorded by Earnest Pugh, led at SI by Menders
Art in Lament:
Emil Nolde, The Prophet
Fritz Eichenberg, Lamentations of Jeremiah
Fritz Eichenberg, Pieta
Margaret Adams Parker, Fruits of the Tree (with Masaccio, Expulsion from Paradise)
Margaret Adams Parker, To Have Seen What I Have Seen
Margaret Adams Parker, Pieta
Margaret Adams Parker, Totentanz [Dance of Death]
Music during Art in Lament: “Quartet for the End of Time: III. Abime Des Oiseaux” [Abyss of Birds] – classical; composed by Olivier Messiaen
Scripture Reading: Psalm 137
Song: “By the Rivers of Babylon” (Reggae) – as recorded by The Melodians (based on Psalm 137:1-4), led at SI by Menders
Day 3: Hope and Leadership
Prelude: J.S. Bach, Chorale Prelude, Nun komm’ der
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Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 “Now Comes the Gentile’s Savior”; transcribed for piano by Ferruccio Busoni. Piano, performed SI by Anna Showalter (Duke Divinity student)
Music: “We Shall Not Be Moved” (Freedom song) – as recorded by Mavis Staples, led at SI by Menders
Solo: “God Listening” (Inspirational) – as recorded by Mandisa, performed at SI by Kaimy Masse
Devotion: Marion Wasia; 1 Peter 1:6-7, John 20:11-18
Day 4: Spirituality
Music: “For the Healing of the Nations” (Hymn) – written by Fred Kaan, arranged by Andrew Witchger, led by Andrew Witchger and Shaelaurel.
Music: “As A Fire Is Meant for Burning” Ruth
Duck, GIA Publications, INC.
Devotional: Keith Daniel
Meditation: Andrew Witchger and Shaelaurel
Music: “Take Rest” (Gospel) – written by Deitrick Haddon, led at SI by Menders
Music: “Instruments of Your Peace” (Hymn) led by Andrew Witchger and Shaelaurel
Music: “Blessed Assurance” (Hymn) led by Andrew Witchger and Shaelaurel
Music: “Beautiful Things” (CCM) – written by Gungor, led at SI by Menders
Music: “Chasing After You” (Gospel) – written by VaShawn Mitchell, led at SI by Menders
The Menders are honored to lead worship at The Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation’s annual Summer Institute. The conference is a gathering of leaders and activists from around the world for an intensive retreat and journey through the cycle of Reconciliation. We will be posting our set lists each day, as well as some reflections on the different themes. We
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also lead a worship and reconciliation talk and will post our notes from that as well. Lots coming this week so stay tuned!
Imagine with me for a moment…
Imagine that you are a musician and a small but popular theatre performance company in Great Britain wants to hire you to work for them full time. They promise you two years of guaranteed employment with them and directly after you finish you would be hired by their parent company to work full time. This seems like great work and the perfect opportunity for you to do what you love and expand your platform as well as an opportunity for you and your family to start life in a wonderful country. You discuss the terms and conditions with the company and they sound good. Upon the approval of a two-year temporary visa, the company will pay for your living expenses in exchange for your work. In addition, you will get a set amount every month to use for groceries and other things you and your family may need.
Soon after the company brings you and your family of four over from the United States to Great Britain since you cannot afford it. Being a musician has been rewarding but has also been a struggle. You are not wealthy so a guaranteed contract and fresh opportunity for you and your family sound great. You begin working for them and love it. Your family loves it in Great Britain and all is well.
After a few months of working with the company you realize that they do not have as much money to give you as they promised you. They take care of the basics but the other needs of your family are taken care of sparsely. You did not sign a contract with them because the contact for the company is a family friend and you agreed to move and work based on his word alone.
Your two year employment had its high and low financial moments but you made it through! You are ready to work for their parent company and upon a renewal of your visa, you can begin work immediately. But the visa is taking longer than expected. You applied for it half a year out just in case it would take that long. I did not take that long the first time so you imagine that six months ahead of time should yield a response. But it doesn’t.
Luckily at the same
time, half a year before your contract ends with the small company, they agree to raise support in case your visa takes longer than expected. It will be transition money for about three months or so. This sounds good as you should have certainly heard back from the government before then, so you agree to it.
It is thirty days
before your contract with the small company expires and you have heard nothing about your visa. Then it is two weeks. One week. You hear from the government. They inform you that it will take another four to six weeks before they can process your paperwork. They do have some good news that as someone affiliated with the arts, your paperwork should be approved as soon as they get to it. But you do not have four to six weeks. You do not have that time because your visa is expired. The small company only raise one-tenth of what they promised you. It is not even enough to cover the impending month’s rent.
You cannot legally work anywhere and no temporary work license or visas are available as options to you.
You cannot drive anywhere. You had a temporary driver’s license but if you are caught by the police (who can seem intent about catching people like you), you will be arrested and deported back to America. Going back to America is not an option. You sold everything you had for you and your family to come to Great Britain for a new life.
Now you have rent to pay on your own now and utilities, you have groceries that you need to buy and your baby needs diapers. You have needs but no income.
With the help of churches and friends you have made since being in Great Britain you get all of your expenses covered for the month! But the government hasn’t gotten back with you yet about an update. Next month’s rent and bills are approaching soon.
By the grace of God through the generosity and kindness of friends, churches, and strangers your family is able to make rent payments for the next six months. All the utilities are not always paid so just before they are shut off, a little bit of money comes in from someone to help. It is just enough to keep the lights on or buy groceries for the week.
But this entire process has been taxing. The government keeps pushing back the date of your visa decision. Even when they presented your new boss with the impossible task of proving that he had your first year’s salary ready in only two weeks, they still have not delivered any news to you. Your boss raised the remaining funds needed and yet two months afterward the only contact made was “It will take another four to six weeks.”
You are tired. You are helpless and at the mercy of the British government to determine whether you can stay in Great Britain and work or whether you will be deported to America to find a life that currently is not there for you and your family. You have nothing to go back to in America. Great Britain is your only option – unless the government states otherwise.
Did you do
it? Did you imagine the scenario? Isn’t it difficult to get your head around?
Can you imagine what this feels like?
I can’t imagine. I literally cannot. And I think that this is something to consider. I think the fact that I cannot imagine this for my own life says something about my status. I have not had to imagine because I was fortunate enough to be an immigrant at the right time. For many Christians who are and who are not immigrants, this is hard to imagine because this level of hardship and difficultly is not on our radars.
Two years ago this was not on my radar until during a summer reconciliation conference held at Duke Divinity School called the Summer Institute. The band that I am in, Menders, was leading worship and a vibrant young man named Rene Lopez came up to us afterwards. He expressed his love for worship music and reconciliation and from that moment on became important to the life of the band.
Rene has shown me that reconciliation is so much deeper than a musical offering to God. Reconciliation and worship happens in how we treat people, who we notice, and who we choose to continue not noticing or helping. Through our friendship I have seen that music is invaluable in helping lead people into God’s presence, but so are relationships, because when the music stops, the only thing we can do is be church together.
Rene has become my friend and his
family, my family. When I first met him two years ago, his situation as a minister working for a church was rough but manageable. But now after finishing with that ministry, Rene and his family are in limbo. For the past eight months they have relied on donations alone to meet their basic needs. And until they get word from the U.S. government about their visa status, they cannot work. He has been a minister for over fifteen years and has work ready for him to minister to children in the urban context. He is ready and willing to work to provide for his family, but legally and literally cannot. As a Mexican in America, given the recent controversy around immigration, I wish I could say that the hardship Rene and his family are facing is an isolated incident but I am afraid it is not.
So what does immigration have to do with worship music? Everything! If worship helps us connect to God, then connecting to the body of Christ in multiple ways can and should be the joy of the church!
Worship music helped Rene find Menders and within a conference on reconciliation, some lasting friendships. But I would even go further and say that worship music helped me find out where God was calling me to be ministered to, in an unlikely and invaluable friendship.
Rene’s presence proves that worship music has the power to connect people from all walks of life and bring new relationships to our attention. And even more, worship music can do the work of calling God’s children to respond to the needs of others – those within and outside of our typical circles. Rene and his family are intentional about being siblings in Christ and beacons of light to all people, not just their own people. And this is admirable as the immigration situation in this country forces many to live otherwise, close-together with their own, trying to find out ways to help one another. This is a tough way to live, and I don’t blame communities that form and live this way for doing so. It is critical to surviving. My parents did it; in many ways, it is the easiest way to get through the difficulties of American life.
The presence of Rene and his family is absolutely a witness to the possibilities of the church, I am positive that I still have a lot to learn from the ministry that is simply their presence. And I hope that their presence and ministry in America will continue; please pray with me for it to be so.
Rene and his family would love your thoughts and prayers as they still await word from the government. Until they get word, they would also love contribution that you can give towards meeting rent and utility needs. You can give HERE if you feel compelled to. And if you would like to learn more about Rene, you can read more about him here.
I ask for your prayers, thoughts and gifts to help a wonderful family continue to be examples of love and grace, pure joy and peace to those of us who need it but did not know or imagine that it could come from such an unexpected place.
fellowship with people that were pretty much like me, 2nd generation Korean-Americans. I went on to stay in Asian-American mono-ethnic ministries throughout college and grad school. I even met my wife in this context, So I will always thank God for putting me there!
each other through the good times and bad, and to play really great music from a huge range of traditions in a way that honors the histories that the songs have come from.
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press on in following him, I have to learn how to be at peace with going beyond my comfort zone. After all, Jesus did the ultimate cross-cultural ministry experience – crossing the dividing line between Creator and Created. If I can’t follow him past just a few racial, ethnic, or socio-economic lines, then how faithfully can I really follow after him?
that I will be the first to reveal
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I could have never imagined that I would be a part of a worship band. After college, my path in life was clear in the field of music therapy with children and adults with disabilities. I had a successful practice and was beginning to publish some research, when a holy interruption came three years ago.
I was invited to lead worship at the Duke Divinity Center for Reconciliation Summer Institute in 2011. I am positive that I must have been the last person they called because I had no credentials besides the
fact that I led worship at my church every so
often. And this was no ordinary crowd at this conference; it was an intimate gathering of leaders from all over the world who sought retreat and inspiration in their
work of reconciliation around the world. Catholic and protestant, young and
academics and practitioners, the worship services were to reflect each voice from the different parts of the world. Eager and much afraid, I decided to take on the challenge, but I knew that my narrow scope of worship practices would not cover the diversity of the participants. I called up some friends of mine, and together we forged our way through the week.
What we didn’t know was that the Lord had plans for us to continue down the path of what it meant to journey together in facilitating worship experiences along the lines of reconciliation. We continue to discover the degree to which worship serves as the very content to facilitate reconciliation and to break down the walls that divide us. We also realized that as a band these areas would be exposed within our collaborative process. As the band leader and facilitator, I knew that it would take time before all of us felt equal at the table. It took nearly two years for some of us to be awakened to our own voice and to take ownership as an equal partner in our family. I like to think of it as a microcosm of what the work of reconciliation may look like.
We have learned much and still have much to learn, but as a Rwandan proverb states, “If you want to go fast, walk alone. But if you want to go far, walk together.”
I am Nigerian.
I always hope that I will be the first to reveal this, but my
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name always beats me to it. My accent never betrays me though as I’ve been in the U.S. too long to have anything other than an American accent! This is fundamentally who I am – a Nigerian-American woman who has the amazing privilege of being a Christian.
I may seem odd for this, but my faith came after connecting to my ethnic identity. I am a Nigerian-American Christian. I don’t really take to the idea that we are all Christians first – this may be true for many, but for my reality’s sake, I claim the opposite. And it is okay for me to have a stake in this claim, because for me, they live together anyway. And my identity is important because my faith works in it every day.
My faith works with me to navigate what it means to be a Nigerian-American, to be a Christian, to be a Nigerian-American Christian who grew up in African American churches and now attends a predominantly white Presbyterian church who would love nothing more than to live into the original intention of the church. You know, the whole “there-is-no-Jew-and-no-Gentile-in-Christ” thing.
This is my reality. I am a part of the church exactly as I am and try to figure out how I can live in that church faithfully. I learn from faith and my church experience and glean all that I can from them. But I also recognize that there are deep voids in the church. Sinful ones. And many of these voids I have no chance of impacting or changing – but some of them I do! We do! I believe that there are paths of brokenness that
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can be erased – but it takes everyone in the church confessing that they have walked down a worn, beaten path for too long. The church continues down a treacherous path when keeps “others” out of their church or huddles around people “like them” in and
through church – majority and minority alike. I too have done this and hope to join the body of Christ in seeing that there is another path, a path already forged in discipleship and resurrection.
For me, recognizing the resurrection is the power behind reconciliation. I want to recognize possibility through the church. My prayer is to have the imagination to recognize the possibility that Jesus has made available to the church to actually be and not just do church.
This is what makes me a Mender. I believe in investing in the “what-ifs.” I hope to help the church recognize that it has resurrection potential, resurrection possibility. But with such a large goal, it seems impossible to know where to start, so I suggest picking a specific vehicle for reconciliation.
And for me, my medium is music.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
I am a Mender.
Stevie Wonder. Bishop Hezekiah Walker and LFC. The Clark Sisters. Justin Timberlake. PJ Morton. Pastor John P. Kee. Jesus. I’m musically inspired to talk about life, faith and Jesus, and the aforementioned people played a major part in my musical formation from my childhood to, now as a young adult, worship leader, servant, songwriter and worshipper.
I am originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina and I grew up in a Christian home where my grandparents raised me. I attribute most of my spiritual formation to my grandmother, the late Mother Joyce A. Bryant. I grew up in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), where in the four walls of East Russell Street Church of God and North Ramsey Street Church of God, I learned what music was and how it mattered to me as a Christian.
I am a part of Menders because I believe that what we do: the worship, the reconciliation, the journey, the music
Where I am in Christ and life, as a 27 year old man, is not where I thought I’d be. Currently, I am getting to know God more and more. After receiving a seminary education at Duke Divinity School, my passion for music was renewed. The summer after graduating from seminary, I found out about a music internship through a fellow classmate. The internship was hosted by Making a Melody, LLC and East End
Fellowship Church out of Richmond, VA. I had been praying for an opportunity like this because I was serious about pursuing music as a profession. During this summer long internship, my passion for music, songwriting and producing were re-ignited. Appropriately called the “Urban Congregational Songwriting Internship,” that internship (in the summer of
2011), also challenged me to think more about other types of music outside of Gospel and Christian contemporary.
I grew up on many types of music including Gospel, Classical, Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop to name most. Could a Christian be a faithful witness while singing other genres/styles of music outside of Gospel/CCM (Christian Contemporary Music)? Could a Christian do both “Christian-based” music and “secular” music?
Because I grew up in a household that listened to all types of music namely Soul/R&B, Jazz, Country and Gospel, I did not see a separation between the “secular” and “sacred music,” until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, and threw all of my R&B CDs away. I had heard somewhere in my church and early-Christian walk, that listening to “secular” music was unacceptable. This was all reversed when I graduated from seminary, and saw “worship” music in a broader sense.
Worship music did not just include the worship songs we sang on Sunday morning, in church services or on the gospel radio station. Worship included songs about life, love, relationships and commentary about societal issues plaguing our world and communities today. My viewpoint about worship and “worship” music definitely goes against the “sacred-secular” divide, as well as pushes to re-define what music is and how it is to be used. I am no less “saved.” Nor am I a Christian who is straddling the fence.
Being a part of Menders challenges me to re-think worship altogether and what it looks like to different people, from different backgrounds
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and traditions who have one thing in common—the love of worshipping God.
I joined Menders because of Harold’s cooking. Just kidding. But for real, Harold can cook. And I think that the frequency and quality of Harold’s cooking is a clear sign of God’s grace and mercy. And in a sense I became part of Menders because of meals.
Before I became a Christian, in my grammar school years, I wanted to be a rock star. A child of the ‘90’s, I remember singing the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on the karaoke stage at the town fair when I was eight years old. As I got older, I learned how to play the guitar and started writing songs, and by the time I was twelve years old, I was learning, writing and recording music from the time I came home until I went to bed (with a quick break for dinner). I played with others sometimes, but most of my time was spent alone in my “music room” molding my future fame and glory.
was fourteen years old, I became a Christian. I learned the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in a compelling way, and believed it. And I was thrilled – how amazing that I could know the
Creator of the universe. Soon after, the youth leader at the church I was attending asked if I would play guitar for the youth. I welcomed the idea eagerly, and began learning CCM worship music, such as “Lord I Lift Your Name On High,” and “Shout to the Lord.” I eventually spent hours writing Christian songs, and began my pursuit of being a full time Christian music artist. With, of course, short breaks for meals.
When I first heard the Gospel and began my walk of discipleship, the focus was on knowing God and growing with God. So my music focused on fostering personal relationships with Jesus – for others and for myself. This was good, but while I was in
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college I learned that the Gospel is bigger than just me and Jesus.
It’s the announcement of a Kingdom (and a King) in which all brokenness is healed, a Savior who was pleased to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:20).
Our band eats a lot of meals together. And then we have seconds, and then when we’re finished we sit at the table and talk some more. We don’t work separately in our enclaves and then break for a meal. The meals are perhaps the most important part. And I think that because of this, we’re beginning to learn what it is to embody the Gospel for which we so heartily worship God.
I’m in Menders because the meals inform the worship – the worship comes out of relationships that break down the racial and cultural divisions that separate the Church and hinder our worship. I’m in Menders for the meals.