I Am a Mender: Tomi.
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.