When Going There Means Going There

One thing I need to say about the Going There conversation is this: it’s a conversation I haven’t mastered. I don’t always get it. Like the rest of us, I’m learning as I go. The other day, I said I would try to answer this question I offered to you: “I see what’s happening in Ferguson. I don’t understand it, but I want to. Can someone help me understand it?” Then, after I said I’d give you my answer, I realized I may have been presumptuous. So, I started talking with God about that. Now, when I say I was talking to God, I want you to know it probably wasn’t as intentional as I’m making it sound. But, I had an uneasiness, and God is smart, and he picks up on stuff like that.

So I was ironing, in our hotel room, where we were staying for our family reunion. I was listening to the news and wishing I could actually be in Ferguson to see for myself and to hear and to feel, and it seemed as if God said, “Yes.” 

So, I reached out to a couple of people whose names God set before me, to see if they’d go with me to Ferguson, and to invite the people of Ferguson to answer those questions for themselves. Jennifer Lee has a journalism background, and Preston Yancey wrote a powerful piece about Ferguson that moved me to tears. They both said yes without hesitation. Nish Weiseth will be joining us there, in Ferguson, and so will Lisha Epperson. The High Calling is on board (they just stepped up and said yes, before I could even form a question), and Marcus Goodyear and Lisa-Jo have been amazing sounding boards and wise counselors. My friend, Helen Fagan, a diversity expert will consult with our little group, via Skype, as we have need.

We desire, with all that is in us, to be good and faithful stewards on this trip. We covet your prayers.

Pray we don’t make this a big, splashy thing that points to us. Pray that God is lifted high and that, somehow, through our storytelling and because of the words of the good people of Ferguson, the Holy Spirit is able to do something new in Ferguson, in us, and in the Church. Pray for the people of Ferguson and for Mike Brown’s family, and for people who are called to vocations in law enforcement and in the press and in ministry. Pray for people who write. Pray for the Church to get her act together so we can lead in times such as these. Pray for people around the world and right next door, who are wounded and who have known oppression for far too long. Pray for people who want to help and don’t know how. Pray that we stay small.

We are going there…for real. I want to respect Mike Brown and his family and all the people who live in Ferguson, and all the people who know this story all too well. This very small group of us will be going to Ferguson on Friday and we’ll return home on Sunday. We want to go and listen. We want to go and write. We want to go and serve. We don’t want to put any attention on ourselves. We just want to go there.

We want to go with your blessing and with your prayers. We don’t know what will happen, except that we hope we can give the people in Ferguson a chance to tell you, in their own words, why Ferguson matters.

If you’re so inclined, please leave your prayers in the comments. I’d love to turn the comments on this post into a prayer wall for our world, for Ferguson, and for the Church. Will you add your voice here?

#GoingThere: What You Can Do

To say I'm surprised by the recent response to the #GoingThere conversation would be an understatement. I am grateful to you all. It seems as if the #GoingThere conversation is here to stay for a while, and so I'm going to accept that for what it is and continue to make this  a safe place for … [Continue reading...]

Why We’ve Got to Go There

Strike that. I was going to start this with three words: "I'm sorry, but..." So, strike that. By now, I hope you know me. I hope you know my sincere desire not to offend, but to not let up on calling the Church to tear down walls and erase the incessant lines we keep building and drawing to … [Continue reading...]



"Either God is big, or he isn't," Tom said. A few weekends ago, at a conference in Ohio, I got to catch up with some friends of ours from the church we attended when we lived in Pennsylvania. Our kids had been in the same youth group and it was Tom and Beth who moved away from Pennsylvania first. … [Continue reading...]