The Last Dance Kickstarter

HOORAY! Folk Americana Family Band, The Hollands! are back in the studio, recording, The Last Dance, slated for release Sept 2018.

As a family and as a band, we have been following our calling to be conduits of creativity and kindness for nearly a decade and it is our greatest honor and privilege to share “The Last Dance,” our 4th full-length album.

The name is no coincidence, with the younger Hollands! beginning to launch out on their own, the name not only ties all of the lyrical themes together on the album but resonates with this season in our lives.

The Last Dance is our most diverse and comprehensive album thus far. The album comprises of twelve songs, written over the last five years featuring stories of true love, life and death, family, a sense of home or safety, and more love. The final track is the infamous Celtic song we play at the end of most of our performances, “The Blessing”, which was written by our mate, Sammy Horner.

Recorded over 7 days in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia with recording engineer, Chris Gillespie at his off-grid, solar powered, Blue Sky Recording Studios.

The musicality of The Last Dance holds to the essence of The Hollands! Folk Americana sound with beautifully woven harmonies and core instrumentation of Guitar, Cajon, Mandolin, Banjo, Piano, and Ukulele. However, in true Holland fashion, we’ve invited an all-star cast to join us on this album!

Let us introduce our kinfolk,

The Players:

Our dear friend and famed blues guitarist, Cameron Henderson added a few licks on the Gretsch hollow body, giving a few tracks that extra dose of effervescence
Our dear friend and famed blues guitarist, Cameron Henderson added a few licks on the Gretsch hollow body, giving a few tracks that extra dose of effervescence

 

Our recording engineer, Indie Singer/Songwriter, Chris Gillespie set the tone on the Bass and added a bit of sunshine on the Dobro
Our recording engineer, Indie Singer/Songwriter, Chris Gillespie set the tone on the Bass and added a bit of sunshine on the Dobro

 

Colleen Davick has showcased on three of The Hollands! albums and this time is no exception. Colleen adds her fine Penny Whistle expertise on The Blessing
Colleen Davick has showcased on three of The Hollands! albums and this time is no exception. Colleen adds her fine Penny Whistle expertise on The Blessing

 

Jeffrey Niemeier has toured with us on and off over the last three years. This is his 700th recording and we are very excited to have his fireball fiddling on The Last Dance. Photo by Adrianne Adelle
Jeffrey Niemeier has toured with us on and off over the last three years. This is his 700th recording and we are very excited to have his fireball fiddling on The Last Dance. Photo by Adrianne Adelle

 

Composer and long time friend, Jeff Kurtenacker laid down an epic Hammond Organ track on one of the songs.
Composer and long time friend, Jeff Kurtenacker laid down an epic Hammond Organ track on one of the songs.

 

One of our favorite drummers of all time, Jason Torrens (of Cisco Caesar) added his drumming magic to The River and John Brown
One of our favorite drummers of all time, Jason Torrens (of Cisco Caesar) added his drumming magic to The River and John Brown

Our visual artist:

Dalia Milan has had the fortune of being mentored by parents, John and Elli Milan, of Milan Art Institute. At 14, she has found her own unique voice among those in the world of fine art. We're excited to partner with this young prodigy on The Last Dance
Dalia Milan has had the fortune of being mentored by parents, John and Elli Milan, of Milan Art Institute. At 14, she has found her own unique voice among those in the world of fine art. We’re excited to partner with this young prodigy on The Last Dance

And YOU!

As you can see, we’ve assembled an amazing team of collaborators to make this project a success and our desire is to be able to compensate those artists for helping us fulfill our vision for The Last Dance.

This is where you are invited to join the fun! Your Pre-order and contributions not only help The Hollands! create a legacy through music but also supports a village of artists. You can do this by clicking HERE.

Our goal is to raise $6,700 USD. This will cover all of our basic recording/production/printing costs and allow us to care for those who have contributed.

Bringing something new and creative into the world is a deeply vulnerable thing to do, let alone to ask people to notice it, evaluate it, or pay for it. So, thank you for taking the time to consider partnering with us on the most important record of our career to date. We could not do this without you!

Love,

The Hollands!

 

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Nomad Together

Ever wonder “why” we travel full time?

Listen in to this interview with NomadTogether and hear our very candid story. We share the in’s and out’s of community life, music, and marriage/family on the road.

*Topic for this podcast interview: Swimming Upstream-Redefining Your Reality 

We live in a culture that is individualistic and prides its self on being independent and self-sustainable. Comfort, independence and, security are at the top of the list for most people. But, what if these norms that our culture values are masking our longing for a deeper sense of community and adventure?

What we have learned thus far…

To clarify, when we talk about swimming upstream we are talking about swimming in the same waters as everyone else, just moving in a different direction. We are not talking about jumping out of the river into a whole other body of water and creating our own stream (flow). That would be too easy. We are not of this world but we are surely in it. And, because we are in it, we seek to understand the flow, the systems in place and the direction whatever society we are in is going.

One of the keys to swimming upstream culturally is to begin to ask questions. especially “why” questions.We asked questions like, Why do we care so much about status and wealth? What role should education, healthcare, and the pursuit of happiness have in our lives? What is freedom? What is interdependence and why is so vital to our existence? Who are we and what are do we do best as a team? 

That doesn’t mean that we have it all figured out, but to ask questions in and of itself is the beginning stroke of swimming upstream. Not in any sort of snarky or “we’re better than you sort of way,” but why as a curiosity, as a way of engaging the culture around us, challenging and probing into the possibilities or ways of defining the reality.

Also, to swim upstream requires an exceptional amount of patience both for ourselves and those around us. It requires that we have compassion for those going the other direction, going with the flow. It means offering a humble example of flowing another way but understanding that not everyone is keen and rejection is inevitable. It means that when we think we have it all figured out that we’ve probably jumped into a pond and are no longer swimming upstream but rather, we have isolated ourselves with only those who are like minded.

Our hope is that those we meet along the way would be encouraged to start asking questions for themselves. Not for the purpose of getting them to a place where they clone our nomadic lifestyle. Rather, to inspire them to start dreaming and move into the mystery of what swimming upstream might look like for them in their context, with their gift set. 

We unpack all of these things in the Podcast Nomad Together. Have a listen.

The Path

There was a family, a mother, father, sister, and brother, bound to one another in blood and a vision to spread a deep and unequivocal love throughout the lands. They ran and ran as fast as they could to as many places as the fingers on their hands.

Then, one day, they stumbled upon a cave. They wandered in, finding many along the way who were hiding in the shadows. They offered light and love to all they met along the way. They followed the path deeper into the cave and finally into a large open cavern. They halted to observe the many openings.

They knew this place for this place had been foretold to them and they knew that it was time for each to take their own path. They were told that this was an important part of their journey. That the individual journeys would strengthen them and they were assured that these paths would one day all wind back together.

They meandered around the opening for quite some time contemplating, praying, putting fears aside and saying goodbye. And then, one day they got up, bid farewell and each entered into their path.

 

Shambhala In Your Heart

Two years ago we visited friends of friends in the Northern Thailand town of Pai. Once there we discovered not only the beauty of a new place but also sincere friendship at Shekina Gardens. We kept in touch with our new friends and recently reached out to them for a return visit. They told us about a 10-day festival called Shambhala in Your Heart, hosted by a Japanese community, based in Thailand. They said that the festival happens every February and suggested we join them there. We contacted the festival to inquire about performing and they accepted our proposal. Our friend and fellow bus rider, Jeffrey, contacted us and asked to join as well. He met us in Australia and we all flew over together.

We arrived in the small town of Chiang Dao on a warm Thursday afternoon and found our way to the festival grounds. We were greeted by the mighty, mist-shrouded Doi Luang mountain. Teepees and tents sprinkled the grounds, prayer flags blew in the breeze and happy hippies from around the globe frolicked in the stream. We met a new friend named Totto and asked her what Shambhala actually meant. She explained that in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Shambhala; is a mythical kingdom and suggested it was like being safe in the palm of the Buddha’s hand.

The days were filled with workshops in the arts, history, crafts, every kind of yoga that exists, sound therapy, and meditation. In fact, our friends from Shekina Gardens hosted a gentle and exploratory “Christ-centered” meditation every day in one of the Teepees. This was the first year they were invited to lead and we found the gesture to be quite progressive and affirming to our faith practice. It complimented the intercultural nature of the festival and enhanced what seemed to be a core ideology of an open and simple life for all, free from greed, destruction, and war.

One favorite workshop was about the history of the indigenous people, or the Ainu people in Japan. (Ainu” means “human”.)  Some attention was given to the plight of the Ainu people in Japan and how in 1899 Japan created a law that restricted the Ainu from participating in their own cultural activities. In other words, the Ainu people were stripped of their land, customs, and language in hopes that they would assimilate to Japanese culture. It wasn’t until 1997 that this law was lifted and the Ainu people were allowed to practice their own customs again. It was both enlighting and disheartening to learn of this considering the plight of our own indigenous friends in both Australia and the US and stirred in us an advocates heart. Most of the class, however, was on the rituals and beliefs of the Ainu people. We learned that they regard things that are useful to them or beyond their control as “kamuy”(gods). In daily life, they pray to and perform various ceremonies for the gods. We learned about the ancient practice of “stitching”. In this practice, Ainu women weave and elaborately decorate the traditional ceremonial clothing with symbols of the of the gods including “nature” gods, such as of fire, water, wind and thunder and “animal” gods, such as the bear or crow. Then we were given opportunities to learn the craft of stitching ourselves. It was a fascinating and inspiring way to spend an afternoon.

Another fun activity was just a short walk down the road to the sulfur hot springs. It was free to the public and offered a variety of tubs varying in temperature. Our new (10yr old) friend, David, from Russia, joined us one afternoon and we had a lively discussion about how much he loves fire. When I suggested he become a fireman when he grows up, he looked at me and said with disgust “I do not want to kill fire! I want to make fire big! Very big! I want to be fire!” Haha!! Watch out world!

In the evenings there was music, fire twirling, and dancing. At some point during the night, there were announcements. Three speakers took the stage, one spoke Japanese, one Thai, and one English. It was fascinating to watch them translate for one another. Most of the announcements had to do with interacting with and respecting the local village and culture; things like respecting the village by putting on more clothes (not cool to run around in bikini’s or shirtless in Thailand) or quiet hours starting at midnight. It was refreshing to watch these leaders setting a tone of humility and harmony by offering us wisdom to better interact with the local culture.

There were two performance stages. The kitchen stage ran during the afternoon and featured open mics, poetry, and spoken word. The main stage was in the middle of the grounds and ran in the evening from 5:30pm-midnight. The bands varied from singer/songwriters to full-on rock/reggae bands and most were from Thailand or Japan. There were also a handful of performance art/dance acts.

The Hollands! performed a rollicking set on a Wednesday night just as the sun was setting. We shared six songs and invited our friends Ro and Aya to join us on Morning Star, our last song. The crowd was enchanting as they danced, sang and encouraged us with their smiles. It was most certainly one of our favorite performance interactions. Besides our official performance, we also spent quite a bit of the festival jamming old bluegrass and folk tunes with other muso’s. Jeffrey really stood out at the festival with his mad violin skills! He was even invited to play a haunting set during the fire spinning show. It was fire and violin, quite the beautiful combination.

On a side note: We stayed at Koko Home. (There was camping at the festival but the cost to buy all the gear was about the same as staying at Koko’s, so we opted for comfort). We rented out the family room for four people, with a queen and bunks for about $1000TBT a night (That’s about $30USD) The room was clean and air-conditioned, which was refreshing as some of the days it got up to 98f. We also rented one moped from Koko and used it to shuttle back and forth. Koko and his family were amazing hosts. Koko spoke English well and invited all the guest, including us, to a home cooked meal and jam one of the nights. His wife made Khao Soi, which is a soup-like dish made with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chilies fried in oil, and meat in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk. It is our new favorite and we will be looking for it on every Thia menu we can find it on!

PS. If you are keen to go to Shambhala in Your Heart and want more information on logistics,  Joanna’s “Blond Travels” blog was very helpful.

And be sure to like the festival’s facebook page.

What is Your Name

While in Myanmar, I have been trying to pick up little bits and pieces of the language. I have learned how to say “Mingalaba,” which is Hello and “Chei-zu tin-bar-te” which is Thank you. Most folks smile when I say these simple words, maybe because of my accent or maybe because they are not expecting it. Either way, I get such a delight out of the interactions.

Yesterday, while riding in a taxi, our taxi driver made a comment in English. He spoke well enough for us to have a lovely conversation about music. Then I shared that I was trying to learn his language and wondered how to say “what is your name?”

He responded “Sim ma mah.”

I repeated, “sim ma ma.”

He said, “No, Sim, ma mah.”

I tried again but he was not satisfied and spoke slower, really emphasizing each sound. I listened intently and repeated exactly how I had heard. This time he was pleased, smiled and said: “yes, that is correct.”

I sat back in my seat for a few moments and then leaned forward, tapping his shoulder and said with confidence, “Sim ma mah?”

He paused, glanced back at me and in a quandary said, “Yes, that is my name.”

“Ah!” I exclaimed, “I asked you how do you say, ‘what is your name?’ And, you actually told me your name.”

Everyone in the car burst out laughing as we all realized the misunderstanding. He then proceeded to tell me how to say “what is your name?” but for the life of me, I can not remember how to say it. I’ll never forget how to say his name though.

Carriers of the Story

It has been four years since our last roll down the west coast and we were excited to reconnect with some of our kinfolk Oakland, California. We were meant to park our bus in the Bekaert’s driveway but found that the already tight squeeze was made impossible by surrounding parked cars. Nic had a “Plan B” for us to park with a friend down the street who owned an auto shop. We were super grateful for the hospitality but the initial let down of not being next door to our friends, on top of trying to get remember our city street smarts, left us a bit unhinged. All that to be said, after the first day, we found our bearings and started to engage with the colorful world around us.

We began our week by making scones and tea for our host, Tane and his wife, Keo as a thank you for allowing to park in their lot. Over the course of the next few days, we visited with them several times, sharing story and encouraging one another.

Tane, shared a bit about his hard road growing up in Oakland. He said his life was consumed with anger, with self and he had very little hope. Then, he had a moment where time stood still and everything came into focus. He was riding in his car and flipped on the radio to a station where he heard a sermon about God’s forgiveness through Yeshua. Forgiveness was not a word that was familiar or comfortable for him. However, in that moment, it all began to sink deep into his being and he knew he needed this forgiveness and he knew he needed to offer this forgiveness. And so he began to move towards this truth, one step at a time. He talked about how this forgiveness transformed his mind, strengthened his marriage and family and gave him a vision for the future. He was a top end mechanic, working at a dealership and had always wanted to start his own business. So, he and his wife began to pray and things started lining up. In May, they bought the mechanic shop on the corner of Foothills and 27th. They call it Community Auto Center, a name that symbolizes everything Tane and Keo are about; community.

We also had inspiring conversations with Keo. Born in Cambodia, fleeing as a child during the war, Keo shared the journey of faith that led her towards healing and reconciliation. A part of that journey was a trip back to Cambodia with a handful of other Cambodian women. The trip offered the ladies an opportunity to reconnect with culture, to heal past wounds, to encourage and be encouraged by their families and fellow Cambodians in the reconciliation process. This process requires deep lament and also a movement towards Thanksgiving. In his book, Out of the Depths, Anderson suggests that “laments are really expressions of praise, offered in a minor key in the confidence that Yhwh is faithful and in anticipation of a new lease on life.”

Though out the week we had non-stop visits from many of Tane and Keo’s friends and neighbors. We found that in many of their stories, as refugees, that they are still actively living out lament, stuck in a posture of deep sadness and for some, anger. Having been to Cambodia and experiencing the subtle transition from lament to thanksgiving amongst the locals that we met, we were able to participate in active listening, allowing the speaker to really confess the horrors, pain, and sense of betrayal they still feel bound by in their lives.

Yet, when they learned of our visit to their homeland, light-filled their eyes and they wanted to hear a new story. It was awesome to be able to encourage them by telling them stories of our friends, their fellow countrymen, who have walked through the same horrors of war and who continue to live in a hostile world but who have hope. We shared stories of those who, through the power of forgiveness have begun to mend relationships with those who once were their oppressors. We shared stories of those who live out this hope by loving God and loving their neighbors. Thought it all, some of them were inspired to begin to move towards healing, towards forgiveness, Thanksgiving, and hope.

We travel full time, all over the world, we sit with people and listen to their stories. If nothing else, we are finding that the further we go the more these stories interweave. There is a tie that binds us all in love and it is an honor to carry these stories for such a time as this. It is an honor to be welcomed in as the stranger and find such rich treasures waiting for us.

If you’d like to learn more about Cambodia’s recent history with genocide and war we highly recommend the Netflix movie, They Killed My Father.

During our visit to Cambodia, we spent much time with Craig Greenfield and the Alongsiders, learning and listening. We visited the Killing Fields and asked anyone who was willing to share their story.  We were struck by our new Cambodian friend’s tenderheartedness, sober-mindedness, and their joy. We were encouraged by their commitment to making their world a better place by serving one another, caring for the hungry, the wounded, the warring, and the dying. While there we learned a sacred song, one that resonated so deeply in our souls that we have carried it with us and share it with those longing for healing and restoration in our world. It is a song that was actually written by a Mennonite named Tom Wuest, who visited the Alongsiders prior to us and was so inspired that he wrote a whole album of sacred songs. This was one of them. It is called May Your Kingdom Come and it is a prayer based off of Yeshua’s prayer;

9 …Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (Matt 6.9-13)

You can download Tom’s song at https://tomwuest.bandcamp.com/track/may-your-kingdom-come

Reflections on Racism and Privilege from a Kingdom Perspective

If you’ve read any of my posts in my “All Saints Diary” tab then you know that I see life through a particular faith lens. You know that I have a tender heart towards humanity and that I see the Creator of the Universe, aka Abba, as more than just a big genie in the sky but as a personal, relatable, reliable person to whom I have deep fellowship with. And not only me, but I see that I am part of a greater assembly of saints, past, present and future all in unity with Christ as our head. I believe whole heartedly that when one falls, we all fall, and when one is honored, we are all honored.  It is through this faith lens, I write to that assembly.

If you’ve read much of the news in the US these days, you’ll find that there is quite a bit of political and civil unrest. All sorts of words are being thrown around; racism and privilege to name a few. They are words I hope to paint a more in-depth picture of in this writing.

First I want to address the concept of identity. Who do you say you are? Who do others say you are?

In his book, Soul, Self, and Society, Rynkiewich suggests that identity is a social construct, set by the greater mass of whatever social construct or family systems that we live in.

For instance, according to my social construct,  I am a white, American woman. These three descriptors identify me and each has a certain understanding attached to it. If I meet someone from another country, gender, or ethnicity, those descriptor helps the other person make sense of who I am based on their understanding and vise versa. Until we each affirm or redefine ourselves to one another, those identifiers set the tone for our interaction.  

*Identity is not personality, likes, dislikes, communication styles, etc…

For better or for worse, identifiers put us into categories of hierarchy and privilege which organizes how our society functions. Thus, if we are on the top of the identifier mountain, then welding power over others is essential in making sure our identities stay in tact. If we are in the valley of identifiers we may fight to find footing to climb up the mountain. Like it or not, this is just the way the world works. 

However, I want to think more about this idea of redefining ourselves to one another, using our new identifiers to set a tone of peace and harmony, advocacy and reconciliation in our interaction. To do so, I ask three questions…   

What does it look like for the social construct of the Kingdom of God to define our identity rather than our worldly society? How do we understand who we are as Children of God? What does it look like to function in the tension of being in this world but not of it?

Let’s start with Yeshua and the kingdom come. A long time ago, one afternoon, a large group gathered on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Here, Yeshua laid out what the Kingdom of God or the “Kingdom of Heaven” as some call it, looks like. In doing so, he challenges the social construct of identity and turns everything on its head.

He says things like…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are those who mourn,  For they shall be comforted.

 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be  filled.

 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Through these blessing in Matthew 5, Yeshua paints a picture of what it looks like for His kingdom to define our identity. These are the markers for what that identity looks like on full display. And so, if we who call ourselves believers want to understand what it means to have our identity in this new kingdom, then we have to understand it may go against everything our worldly society or family tells us. 

In Romans 8:14-17 we are called God’s children: Paul writes, “…For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship/daughtership. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Ephesians 2:3 we read, that before this transformation or adoption process, we were “by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Thus, it is important to keep a confident but humble posture, understanding that it is by grace and not by works that we have been adopted into the family of God. It is a privilege. 

Understanding our new identity as Children of God, we gain perspective on this word “privilege.”  

Privilege simply means unearned rights, rights someone else paid for. (Brene’ Brown)

When we are adopted into the Family of God we are given unearned rights, rights that Jesus paid for. Instead of fearing God as judge, we have the great privilege of coming to Him as our Father. We can approach Him with confidence and ask Him what we need. We can ask for His guidance and wisdom and know that nothing will take us from Him. We also rest in His authority and respond to Him with trusting obedience, knowing that obedience is a key part of remaining close to Him.

And, when our identity is defined by God’s rule, found in Christ we have the privilege to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. We are directed to use that privilege to display God’s glory, to set captives free and to bind up the broken-hearted. This identity has no room for prejudice or racism. We can not call ourselves sons and daughters of the King and have a heart of hatred and exclusion for those the King has created. 

Even the young fella’s who walked with Yeshua, James and John, didn’t get it at first. These are guys that were known as the Son’s of thunder, meaning they were hot-tempered and quick to act. They walked with Jesus for three years, saw him feed thousand with a few loaves of bread and some fish, they saw him heal people, cast out demons and at one point they are on their way to Jerusalem and Yehshu sends messengers on ahead, into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. So, when the disciples James and John hear this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call-fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

What? Seriously, call down fire! Destroy them? They obviously didn’t get Yeshua’s heart for humanity and he turned and rebuked them, saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are;  for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” D’oh! 

Fast forward to when they were together for the last time and they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom? Is this the time?”

He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is Abba’s business. What you will get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and… Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

These were his last words to them as they watched him ascend. However grand that the ascension was, I am struck by his final words to them; knowing how John and James at one time wanted to call-fire down from heaven and destroy a whole people group, I imagine Yeshua looked right at them when he came to this part and slowly spoke the word SA-MARI-A. Interestingly enough it seems John got it, as all of his recorded writings center around the theme of unconditional love and unity in the body. Including the infamous Revelations 7:9 where he records a dream of heaven being filled, not with all of the same kind of people, rather with every tongue, tribe, and nation.  

Lastly, with the context of our identity as children of God, being shaped by the social construct of the Kingdom, I want to look at what it means to live in this world but not of it.

In a letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul calls us “ambassadors” for Christ:  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

Generally speaking, an ambassador is a respected official acting as a representative of a nation. Sent to a foreign land, the ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him or her authority.

Our new identity as Children of the King, completely changes our relationship with God and our families, just as it changes the way we see the world. As we go through this world, we represent the Kingdom, that is our nation and it is our responsibility to reflect the “official position” of heaven. And, when we walk in the confidence of our identity shaped by the Kingdom of God, then words like “white privilege” or “rich privilege” no longer evokes a feeling of shame or defensiveness but rather, empowers us to use our unearned rights to represent the official position of heaven, which is love. 

This is not just an individual perspective, this is our corporate identity. In our cultural context, we tend to read the “you’s” throughout scripture as an individual “you.” However, that is not the correct context. Except for a handful of times, “You” is collective.

We are collectively a part of a heavenly, God-ruled kingdom. That is the social construct that shapes our identity. 

I have had the privilege to see Abba turn the story of racial hostility upside down and I want to share this final field story with you. Over the past two months, He has woven us together with kinfolk who understand their identity as Children of God and Ambassadors for the Kingdom. The following is an account of Abba’s Glory seen in and through those who call themselves the body of Christ.

We witnessed and participated with believers in Muskegon MI, Elkhart, IN, St. Louis, MO, and Denver, CO. These were all congregations representing every tongue, tribe, and nation. And, although English was the dominant language in each of these churches, some of them offered translation in Spanish, some in French.

The messages were on:

Matt 5:14 “being the light of the world,”
2 Cor 5:11-22 “the ministry of reconciliation,”
Eph 2:1-8 “being adopted into God’s family.”
1 Peter 2:11-23 “living Godly lives in a warped society.”

We sang African spirituals. We worshiped in Swahili, and in Spanish. In St. Louis we saw 20 Elders stand and pray for a couple they were sending out. Of the 20 elders, three were white! That’s in a city where the Government has called a state of emergency because of racial discord and civil unrest! I actually had to film some of it because I was so inspired by these Saints commitment to each other and to God. (video below)

They preached the gospel and they worshiped with all of their hearts!

Then this week I spoke in Salt Lake City on Eph 2:11-22, with a conclusion that when, the church, views herself in the light of this passage, that it is impossible for her to be conformed to the divisions which exist in society.  It is her nature to be the place where divisions are healed. (William Radar)

Let it be so! This is the work of our Abba.