What Does it Mean to Be a Mentor? Part 2

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Last time we looked at the first two characteristics of a mentor, consistency and modeling. This week we will continue on with the next three characteristics of a successful mentor. I hope these help you understand the depth of the call and importance of your new role.

I commit to encouraging another; by listening, by understanding, by fostering strengths, and by showing empathy.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I love that this section begins with listening. Though we are the mentors and authority figures listening first is key. We all have plenty of advice to give but to fully understand the situation and give the best input we need to listen first. I also love that this verse says encourage just as you are, you are already doing the work keep going! Just being there is a huge blessing for these kids so know you are doing good work each and every day! We also need to foster strengths, see the great things your protégé brings to the table above the challenges. Be bold in your encouragement, tell them what you see in them and how you have witnessed them grow. Empathize with your protégé and understand their struggles are very different from your own but that does not make them any less significant.

I commit to building a mutual relationship; to enter the world of someone else, to hear about new dreams and challenges, to share my own stories, and to respect the differences between us.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.– Matthew 7:12

Understand that you will also be impacted and changed by this relationship. No relationship is one-sided but it is easy to see mentoring as only for the benefit of the protégé. You will get out of this what you put into it so the more you invest, the more you will be changed. You will come away a stronger and more understanding because of your protégé and their family. You will learn from this community its strengths and its weaknesses as well as teaching your protégé about your own community. Your world will look very different but just as they are welcoming you into their lives you should also be open with yours.

I commit to asking for assistance; when I need my own support, when the struggles of a child are bigger than I can handle, when I am unsure.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.– Proverbs 12:15

Your Relationship Coordinator is here to support you in whatever area you need as well as the rest of the Champions of Hope staff. It is wise to seek counsel especially in a relationship that is very new to you. Very few people have experience training and equipping a 4th grader or even a 12th grader so please ask for help. We are here every step of the way but we cannot help you if we do not know what is going on. You will be walking with someone else through their highs and lows and we want to support you throughout that journey.

-Chandler Miner, Relationship Coordinator

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What Does it Mean to Be a Mentor? Part 1

 

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The term mentor comes from two Greek words, mentos meaning with purpose, spirit, and passion and meno meaning to remain, abide, continue, be present, wait, endure. I believe this definition gives a whole new weight to mentoring. It is not only a call filled with purpose and passion but also something we are to endure through and be present during. Mentorship is a process and with that comes both high and low points. We have been called to invest, love and commit to the children and youth of South Dallas, what a great opportunity to disciple the next generation!

Each one of us decided to take on new roles when we became a mentor so I want to talk about what those roles are and how we see them play out in our mentoring relationships. The Mentor Pledge outlines these roles very well and gives good insight to the struggles and joys of mentoring. Each section will talk about a commitment that is made when taking on the title mentor but I have also included scripture references to reinforce those points. Over the next couple of months we will look at all eight sections of the pledge but for now we will just dive into the first two. I hope you find this as helpful as I did.

 

I commit to making a difference; to support, guide, and be a role model.

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.– Hebrew 13:6

This first section of the pledge is the basic role of a mentor. Each of you, as mentors will make a difference in the life of your protégé but it is up to you what kind of difference you make. You control the conversation and how you respond to the things your protégé brings to the table. Your job is to support, guide and to set an example for how a follower of Christ acts and serves others. You could be the only positive light your protégé sees in a week so take advantage of every opportunity to speak truth. Mentorship is a journey and not a destination so modeling is one of the most valuable resources you have as a mentor. Your actions will always speak louder than your words and your investment will impact them forever. You are most likely the coolest person in the life of your protégé so understand they make note of everything you do. I am amazed at the amount of things they remember when I thought they were not even listening.

 

I commit to being consistent; to be a steady figure over time, to be persistent, and to help another persevere.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.– 1 Corinthians 15:58

This statement is key. Consistency is something that many of our protégés lack. With turn over at school and inconsistency in many families you may be the only steady figure in their life. As a former teacher I was burdened daily by the struggles of a child in a low-income environment but was equally encouraged by how they reacted to my love. They value love and presence above anything else, just having someone around was the biggest blessing for them. Being a consistent figure gives you a new voice of influence whether you see it all the time or not you have the power to speak truth into the life of your protégé. You can also help them persevere. Life in South Dallas can be challenging but your love and unconditional support can make all the difference in the life of your protégé no matter if the child is 10 or 18.  

-Chandler Miner, Relationship Coordinator

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Engaging Shy Protégés

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If you have a very shy protégé you might find engaging with them to a bit of a challenge especially in the beginning stages of the relationship. As an adult mentor it can be hard enough to engage with an out going 4th grader but there are some things that can make it easier.

– Consider spending time on their turf. They will automatically be more comfortable in their neighborhood and around their own siblings and friends.

– Make sure your protégé knows that he or she is important. Shy children are often overlooked at school so mentorship is a unique opportunity to show them their importance and value.

– Plan interactive hangouts where you can be active together. Playing games or running around in the park gives you time to build up trust with your protégé without constantly attacking them with questions. At 10 most every child enjoys being outside so take advantage of that and the free nature of parks.

– If you want to open up more dialogue consider coming up with silly interactive questions- ones you can answer as well.  Ask them if they could be a turtle or a dolphin for a day what would they pick? Then you answer the question as well. Remember embrace your inner 10 year old and be silly along side them. Use this as an opportunity to find common ground as well.

– Try retelling stories; they can be stories from your childhood, bible stories or something you made up. Anything engaging or silly is always a win.

– Another thing that can be really helpful is for you protégé to bring a friend or sibling along during a hangout. They are normally more comfortable and tend to open up more. You will learn about how they interact with their peers and get some more honesty about where they really are. Many times they will talk in the back seats as if you cannot hear them and you will learn more about the way he or she thinks.

– You can also connect with another mentor/protégé pair and hangout together. It can be challenging to coordinate that many schedules but I know from personal experience it can be rewarding.

Most importantly offer lots of encouragement and avoid situations that can be embarrassing. If your protégé does something outside of their comfort zone or talk more one week make sure you highlight that and tell them how much fun you had together. Words of affirmation are key!

-Chandler Miner, Relationship Coordinator

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Intentional Questions —–> Fruit Bearing Responses

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Let’s face it. Engaging your protégé in deep and meaningful conversations can be a challenge. You may find yourself running out of things to say or questions to ask and occasionally, your conversations seem to go flat. Now that we’ve acknowledged this truth, I’d like to share a bit of encouragement with you – you are not alone. Conversations can be awkward at times – with anyone. Depending on the number of differences (such as age, race, culture, life experience, etc.) these conversations can be even more challenging to navigate, especially with the objective of delving into fruit bearing conversations. In the blog post titled, The Art of Asking Good Questions we learn that how God has wired everyone with a desire to be known and understood. We also learn a few practical tips on how to ask good questions, such as the importance of asking open ended questions: “If the second word in the question is you it’s probably a closed question (Do you like..? or Have you been..? ).”

This blog seeks to take “The Art of Asking Good Questions” a step further by providing a few questions to aid in your quest to engage in in-depth conversations with your protégé. Please note, the writer is fully aware that communication is a two-way street, and no one wants to feel like the burden of the conversation is completely on them; it takes two (or more) to have a meaningful conversation. However, as a mentor to a young person who is still developing social skills, we encourage you to take the lead in asking the questions and initiating conversations. The hope is that eventually your protégé will reciprocate and adapt the art of asking good questions based on your leadership.

Another thing to consider is not to turn your relationship into an interrogation session. The purpose of this resource is to equip youth mentors with a few conversation starters; by no means are mentors encouraged to go through this entire list in one hangout. Breath, relax, and ask questions such as (but not limited to) the ones below. Actively listen, and be willing to share about yourself in return (the good, bad and ugly). Celebrate your successes, and failures. This helps to humanize you and will allow your protégé to feel more at ease and likely to follow your lead of openness and sincerity. The following questions have been developed based on the 5S model (salvation, sexual purity, school, future story, and service) in addition to a few general questions to spark intentional conversations that will lead to fruit bearing responses.

Salvation Questions:

  • Who do you think Jesus is?
  • Who do you think God is?
  • How would you define the gospel?
  • What does it mean to be “saved”?
  • What do you think a person has to do in order to be “saved?”
  • When is a good time for someone to “give their life to Jesus?”
  • Why do you think Christians make such a big deal about Jesus?
  • What questions do you have surrounding Christianity and/or Christ?
  • If you died today where do you think you would spend your eternity? Why?
  • What does salvation mean to you personally?
  • What does it look like to live for yourself? How is that different from living for God?

Sexual Purity Questions:

  • What would you say/do if one of your friends told you they were pregnant or got someone pregnant?
  • Where do you think most of your peers learn about sex?
  • What’s the right age to get married?
  • Why do you think people get married?
  • What do you think the term purity means?
  • What is the opposite of purity?
  • How do we live out a life of purity in a culture that’s in opposition to it?
  • In your own opinion, why is it ‘impossible’ to still be a virgin in South Dallas?
  • Who do you feel comfortable talking to about sex?
  • What would you say if a boy/girl tried to pressure you into having sex? (Describe your thought process behind your response).
  • What do you think is the purpose for sex?
  • Do you know anyone personally who is married? Are they happy within their marriage?
  • Do you think you will get married one day? Why?
  • What are some of the long-term consequences of sex before marriage (even outside of one’s relationship with God)? (Consider emotional bondage, STDs, pregnancy, etc.)
  • What are your views on same sex relationships?

School Questions:

  • Who is your favorite teacher this year? Why?
  • What has been your greatest achievement and greatest failure in school so far?
  • Why do you think people drop out of school?
  • How do you think the choices you’re making while in grade school will affect your future?
  • What do you enjoy most about school and what do you dislike? Why?
  • How do your friends positively or negatively influence your educational experience?
  • When you’re having a bad day at school what do you do to make yourself feel better?
  • What made your day “good” or “bad” or “meh”?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how much of a priority is school to you? Why?

Future Story Questions:

  • What areas do you think you’re naturally skilled, talented, and/ or gifted in?
  • Who has been the most influential person in your life? How have they influenced you?
  • What goals do you hope to accomplish by the time you’re an adult?
  • What are you doing currently to accomplish your goals/ dreams?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • If you were guaranteed success in a certain profession, what would you want to do?
  • Who is the most successful person that you know?
  • In your own words, how would you define success?
  • If you had to live in a different state, where would it be?
  • When do you think is the best age to start working?
  • When do you think is the best time to attend college?
  • What skillset to do think is needed to remain in college and graduate?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
  • Why do you think it’s important to begin planning for the future?
  • What are some things that you think could prevent you from accomplishing your future goals?

Service Questions:

  • How do you like to be served?
  • What’s the kindest thing someone has done for you?
  • What is the kindest thing that you’ve done for someone else?
  • Recall a time when you’ve seen service done well?
  • What ways have you seen service done poorly?
  • What are ways that you’ve seen people serve others?
  • What does service mean to you personally?
  • Why do you think people serve?
  • How would you define service?
  • What do you think motivates people to serve?
  • How could you serve someone?
  • Who is the kindest person you know? What makes them kind?
  • Where are some places that we serve?
  • When do you think is the best time to serve?

General Questions:

  • What’s your best childhood memory?
  • What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
  • What are your 3 favorite movies?
  • What do you like to do on a rainy day?
  • What trait do you like the most about yourself?
  • What’s the best part about having siblings? (or best part of being an only child?)
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
  • What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
  • What is your favorite season?
  • What is your pet peeve(s)?
  • What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
  • How would you describe me to your friends?
  • Would you rather live for a week in the past or the future?

Monique Alleyne, Relationship Coordinator

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Seeking Wisdom

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. -Proverbs 1:7

Back to school is upon us. School uniforms have been bought, supplies are all in tow and knowledge of all sorts is being dispensed day in and day out in various classrooms across our country.  As our proteges are getting back in the rhythm of school, depending on how old your protege is, there are all sorts of conversations happening now. You may talk through graduation and life after high school, adjusting to middle or high school, or even respecting teachers or fighting. And while these are all appropriate, one thing I’d encourage us as mentors to consider is leading our proteges in seeking wisdom.

Wisdom is defined as skillful living. Another way to put it is that wisdom is how to navigate the world and make decisions in the best way. Who better to know this than the Creator of the world? Wisdom is not fully dependent on how much information you know but what you do with that information. That’s why someone can be really smart or knowledgeable but be a fool. A fool is not someone who is dumb or dimwitted but a person who despises wisdom. A person who sees this skillful way to live but stiff arms it and chooses destruction for themselves.

Now if you are honest with yourself, you have made some foolish decisions in your life and you’ve seen your protege make some as well. While there may be many voices in your protege’s life telling them to do well in school, there may not be many pushing them towards living wisely. Below are a few suggestions on how to promote wisdom in your mentoring relationship.:

-Model Wisdom- Consistently seek to grow in your knowledge of Jesus and seek living wisely. Your protege is watching. They may not always ask you the deep questions but your life is speaking volumes to them.

Share the Why- Bring your protege into the “why” behind the decisions you make in life. Why did you go to college? Why did you wait to get married to have children? Why do you save money? Wrapped up into the why for you is a mixture of wise and foolish behaviors from which your protege can learn. Be honest and assure your protege that you will walk with them through both the triumphs and hardships in their lives.

-Read Proverbs- The Lord has given us a whole book of the Bible full of wisdom. If your protege is older or mature and a reader, you could both commit to reading a chapter a day for a whole month and talk through what you are learning along the way. If your protege is younger or not a reader, consider reading a few proverbs during your hangouts and talking through the implications of them.

In seeking wisdom and leading others to do the same, there is much patience and prayer needed as well, so like it says in Proverbs 3:5-8:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

-Billy Rose, Director of Mentoring and Discipleship

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Middle School Transition- Challenges and Pitfalls

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Vision for Middle School

1 Timothy 4:12- Our hope is that in the transition period that our young people can learn how to make positive choices to set the example in how they speak, their behavior, how they serve and love others, their faith in God, and sexual purity.

Challenges in middle school:

–If they have not already many of your protégés will push back against authority figures in middle school. This will include you, their parents or guardians and teachers. This is a good time to be honest with you protégé and explain times when it was hard for you to submit to authority but why it is important nonetheless.

–Some middle schools have their own set of challenges:

  • –They have a lack of consistency with staff and continuous principal turnover
  • –Some have a reputation for regular fighting, which can be intimidating for new students.
  • –Discipline is strict, consequences will carry more weight; this would be a great conversation to have before school starts in a few weeks.  

Pitfalls of mentors during the middle school years:

–Keeping things the same, you need to grow with you protégé take this time to relearn them and reset if you need it. They might not enjoy the same things they use to.

–Losing contact with the families- if your protégé gets a phone you are still expected to communicate with the parent it is very easy to use the protégé’s phone but it can be detrimental. Your relationship with the family will affect your relationship during this season so do not move away from that.  

–Not expecting respect- this is a basic expectation we have at CoH so it is important to set ground rules for attitude. Things will happen but the more you can prep on the front end the better off you are.  

–Ignoring the 5s’s- keep these conversations going

  • –You are one of the positive voices in the life of your protégé, use it
  • –If you haven’t started the sexual purity conversation make sure you do now; you can start small but make sure this is a topic your protégé can discuss with you. Gage where your protégé is at and go from there.

Resources:

Why True Love Waits- Josh McDowell

The Story of God’s Love for You- Sally Lloyd Jones

-Nathan Elizondo, Relationship Coordinator

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High School Transition 2016- Grit

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The main theme during our 2016 High School Transition Meeting was engaging the topic of what social scientists have dubbed “grit”. MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth defines grit as passion and perseverance. Grit is the ability to continually fight through adversity in order to complete a desired goal.  

As Christians we approach this subject matter differently than the one used by most mainstream academic sources or groups. We form grit within the broader scope of grace. (both common and specific)

—God in his common grace (Matthew 5:45) provides wisdom and insight from social scientist that aligns with biblical truth. To instruct our protégés to display “grit” is to encourage them to faithfully finish the task that is set before them with excellence.   

—As Christians, we are not pulling our ability to fight through tough times through “boot-scrappy” secular humanistic lenses. Rather we believe that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel which gives us the grace to endure. Two of the ways we see that fruit blossom (Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives is through patience and faithfulness.

—We also made it a point to communicate that we are not (in general) middle to upper socioeconomic class individuals seeking to wag our finger at lower socioeconomic individuals telling them only to become more resilient. Our observation of South Dallas and other urban poor communities would indicate that our protégés and families living in poverty have often had to model grit their entire life.  We don’t have more material wealth simply because we were “grittier” rather God in his grace gave us the relationships, opportunities, experiences, examples and resources needed to give us the platforms that we now enjoy. Grit is simply one of the many ways that we seek to holistically develop the lives of our protégés.

Lastly, regarding grit we made it a point to be as vigilant casting vision for grit among our mentors as we will be for our protégés. Mentoring high schoolers is very difficult, as protégés get busier it becomes more and more difficult to match schedules. We make an intentional effort to also encourage our mentors to be gritty.

 

We then walked through each of our five S’s (Salvation, Service, Sexual Purity, Future Story and School) and shared helpful ways mentors can become proactive in issues that have historically been challenges. Some of those include.    

 

We encouraged our mentors to…

Salvation:

—Regularly pray for their protégé’s salvation.

—Become Gospel fluent (easily able to share the gospel)  Two helpful resources are Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert

Service:

—Earn community service hours together Make a Service Bucket List together

—Incorporate service into your monthly hangouts

—Use the Our Calling App – Resource for identifying local ways to serve

Sexual Purity:

—Start with Yourself (what values and beliefs do you have regarding sex? Are they healthy & biblical?)

—Seek Help When Needed

—Helpful Resources – Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children – Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. (Author), Freda McKissic Bush and Finally Free by Heath Lambert

School:

—Understand that one of the greatest indicator lights which point to our protégés not being able to graduate school is seen in truancy.

—Be aware of one helpful resource in assessing your protégés academic performance is DISD Parent Portal. The Portal is a real time electronic web based system that allows the parent (or the mentor with parent’s permission) to see our protégé’s grades and if he or she is attending their classes.

 

Future Story:

—Set a high school game plan (This requires: time, intentionality, and prayer)

—Help your protégé cast vision for high school (perception vs. reality)

—Set S.M.A.R.T Goals with Your Protégé

—Begin with the End in Mind

 

Zach Middleton, Relationship Coordinator

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Mentor Trainings- 2016-2017

Ongoing mentor training is an essential part of Champions of Hope continued efforts to support and sustain healthy mentoring relationships. As relationships mature there are different obstacles that arise that weren’t present at the beginning of the relationship. Proteges get older and their lives become more complex. Family dynamics change as parents break up, or get out of jail, or go to jail, or get married. All these and more require continued efforts to learn and grow and we believe that’s what mentor trainings provide.

In the past we’ve had mentor trainings and made them optional.  We have seen that the mentors that take advantage of these overall flourish, so effective this year (2016-2017) we are asking that all mentors attend one of three available trainings in a year.

The dates are below:

4th-6th Grade Trainings

–October 22nd

–February 21st

–April 29th

7th-12th Grade Trainings

-October 18th

-February 18th

-April 25th

Failure to attend one in a year will put you into a probationary year with CoH where we’d ask again to attend one training. Failure to attend a training within the probationary year will result in dismissal as an active mentor with Champions of Hope.

If you have any questions about  ongoing trainings please let myself or your coordinator know. We are so thankful for each one of you and the time and effort you devote to the Lord day in and day out.

Grace and peace,

Billy Rose, Director of Mentoring and Discipleship

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Champions of Hope App is Here!

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The Champions Hope App is here! For details on how to use the app watch this video. Key features include:

–Mentor Logs- record each hangout quickly that goes directly to your coordinator. No more monthly forms!

–Access to all photos, spotify playlists, and videos

–Can make donations quickly and easily

–Not only for mentors, please pass on to family and friends!

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Mentoring Tamir Rice

Philando Castile

Alton Sterling

Sandra Bland

Mike Brown

Eric Garner

Akai Gurley

Tamir Rice

Walter Scott

Freddie Gray

These are just a few of the black people who died in interactions with police in the past few years. Some in the past few days. Regardless of how you feel about any of the people on this list, their deaths are inextricably linked to you as a mentor. You are linked because the underlying swell of racism in our country is a front line reality for the young person you mentor and their family. Whether black or brown, when they see another unarmed person killed at the hands of police, they see the harsh reality that they or a loved one are just one routine traffic stop away from death themselves. They see disparity between the treatment of Dylann Roof, the domestic terrorist who killed nine people, and Tamir Rice, the twelve year old gunned down in Cleveland in a park. Yes, twelve. He could’ve easily been your protege.

So what are you to do? You may think “this is too overwhelming! What can I do?” While the Lord will have to lead you in many ways, here are few places to start.

  1. Pray– pray specifically for your protege and their family. Pray for protection and wisdom. Pray big! Pray for the racism in our collective hearts and fear to be uprooted. Pray for justice and pray for police officers who for the most part are trying to protect and serve.

 

  1. Listen- your protege and their families have thoughts on what’s going on. They have experiences that you don’t. Listen to what they are saying and empathize. You may not be able to relate and that’s ok, just listen and care.

 

  1. Engage– boldly address the current issues. Ask questions, read articles, watch videos, and don’t act like nothing’s happening. The Lord may lead you to do more but start somewhere.

 

  1. Root yourself in scripture- In these times it is easy to lose hope. With so much information coming at us each day we can just be saddened at the immensity of it all. For your own soul, take a break from the news and social media and read scripture each day. Get your heart and mind submerged into the grand narrative of what God has revealed. And there you will see Gen. 1:27, Lamentations, Eph. 2:11-22, and many other passages in a whole new light. As you see the people of God suffer in anguish at the injustices of a fallen world you can relate and look to Jesus in hope!

 

  1. Remember mentoring matters- In light of everything, know that what you do matters to God, your protege, and their family. So keep showing up! Keep pressing in and keep allowing the Lord to shape you in the process.

 

I have included a few resources below:

Books:

Bloodlines By John Piper

Prophetic Lament by Soon-Chan Rah

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans

-Disintegration by Eugene Robinson

-A Cross Shaped Gospel by Bryan Lorrits

Blogs

Coulda Been Me by Trip Lee

In the Aftermath of Trayvon Martin… by Thabiti Anyabwile

Racial Reconciliation by Eric Mason

It’s Time to Listen by Various Authors (series of blogs)

-Billy Rose, Director of Mentoring and Discipleship

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