Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

This journey through life is never boring......

Author: tomvanderwell (page 1 of 116)

A Week

A US Flag hanging over the ramp on the local high way – with a swastika painted on it.

A children’s playground, a place where innocent children are supposed to enjoy their time, their friends and the outdoors. “Mom, why is there a noose hanging on the swing?”

A claim by the President and many others that we are altering or attempting to alter history by removing confederate statues.

When were the majority of Confederate statues erected?

The 1920’s – also known as the Jim Crow era. Not really to celebrate the people who led many to die to defend slavery. No, these statues were put up to remind people, especially people of color, that Jim Crow didn’t matter, they were still black and the white were still supreme.

From 1950-1965 – the Civil Rights era – once again, the people of color were making headway on gaining civil rights and getting closer to equality. So the white supremacists put the statues up as a reminder.

That’s a down south problem – in 1925, Grand Rapids Michigan had a 3,000 member KKK parade through the minority neighborhoods. No one said a thing, no one protested.

From the newsletter of a church not too far from me (not mine!):

“Pray that we learn violence is not permitted.”

Excuse me, but in a paragraph about Charlottesville, the first thing they ask is to pray that we learn that violence is not permitted?

How about we pray that all of God’s people get treated equally?

How about we pray that all people who claim to be Christians really show God’s love to everyone?

How about acknowledging that there are times when God’s people are called to defend His other people but that we hope violence isn’t necessary?

And it gets worse……

“That the media find ways to help us face this problem, rather than just find ways to attack our president. ”

Pray that the media helps us face the problem of racism? Well, that would be a really good thing, but when has the media ever helped improve anything? We could have a very long debate on the role of the media but helping us face the problem of racism, I think that’s not very high on the main stream media’s list of things to do……..

“Rather than just find ways to attack our president?”

You know, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but if you ask me, if someone goes on TV and says that there were “Nice People” on both sides and one side was openly using Nazi symbols and Nazi chants and such, well, they are wrong.

It’s not possible to be nice people and be Nazis. The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of millions and millions of Jews and many others. They are not nice people.

And the media should not try to protect someone who thinks they are nice people.

There is too much at risk to stand by quietly. I read an article and if I can find it, I will repost it here, but it made a point that there are three “kinds” of people when it comes to racism:
1. There are racists – see Charlottesville for examples.
2. There are anti-racists – read “Letter’s from a Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
3. There are non-racists – those are people who don’t say anything about racism and don’t do anything about racism.

The author’s point is essentially this – if you don’t do or say anything to make a difference in combating racism, then you are a racist and being quiet as a racist is almost as bad as marching with the Nazis and the skinheads.

I have no intention of having anyone question what side I’m on. God made all of His people different and they are ALL different but they are ALL His People.

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisEntertainment/videos/1526983700696520/

More later…….

Tom

Charlottesville on the Ground

The Things My Church Taught Me about Charlottesville

If you have been following my writing at all, you know that I attend a multi-cultural church in Grand Rapids. It’s called Madison Square Church because 103 years ago when it was founded, the area was already known as, you guessed it, Madison Square.

We had a prayer service tonight and it was open to not only people from our three campuses but the neighborhood and other churches as well. The goal was to gather Christians in Grand Rapids for a time to pray and work through what happened, what it means and what do we do now.

I’d say that it was a resounding success on those fronts. Did it solve Charlottesville’s problems? Not by a long shot.

But I learned a number of things tonight about Charlottesville, about the church and about the future. In random order……
1. While many people don’t want to admit it, the “open” atmosphere that the political scene has brought has given many “fringe” white people the perceived “okay” to bring out their anger. Does that mean there is more racism now than there was 10 years ago? Not necessarily, but it means that there are more people who feel it is okay to be hateful towards “those” people in open and threatening manners than there were 10 to 15 to 20 years ago. (More on that later)

2. That anger is sin and like all types of sin, the sin of racism pervades our entire world. One of the preachers tonight had ICE make a raid on his house with the perceived intention being to send him “back” to wherever “there” was. He’s a US citizen, so while it shook him, it didn’t impact him like it has others.

3. In some areas, the sin of racism is overt (like Charlottesville this weekend) and in others (like Grand Rapids most of the time) it is more covert and hard to see, but it’s still there.

4. Prayer is good. Prayer is important. But prayer is not enough.

5. God calls us to do more. To do more than pray. He wants us to pray. He wants to hear from us. But sitting at home in our nice comfortable homes while the world is burning around us is not acceptable to Him.

6. Some churches are more in tuned to the type of service that God is calling for in today’s environment. Some are very comfortable and are more comfortable to “just pray” about the ugly things in this world. Others are much closer to the “let’s get dirty and help other.” Some are already knee deep in the dirt that comes from God’s call to serve the “least of these” whether they are in Grand Rapids, Los Angeles, Iraq or Charlottesville.

7. Especially in situations like this and with “wake up calls” like this, God’s people are not serving the least as much as they should. You remember reading about the Last Supper on the night Jesus was betrayed? What did Jesus do? He washed all of his disciples feet.

He washed All of his disciples FEET. That means he washed the tops, the bottoms and all of the really smelly and infected and dirty parts.

He washed All of his Disciples feet. 12 sets of feet. Jesus knew that time was running very short until Judas was going to betray him. But he still washed Judas’ feet too.

God isn’t only asking us to care for the wealthy highly educated immigrants, He wants us to take care of those who live in refugee camps and don’t have anything, quite literally.

8. Does God say it’s going to be easy? Not a chance. But God says it’s right. God says in many places in the Bible that it is a mandate for His people to love our neighbors – even if our neighbors are different than we are.

I said earlier that I would get back to the open atmosphere that many are believing the political atmosphere and the campaigns and tweets and the like have paved the way for many angry fringe white people to feel like they can finally stand up and speak their twisted, warped viewpoints. Personally, I think a pretty strong case can be made for that view.

There is an author and pastor who I have quoted before by the name of John Pavlovitz. He wrote a piece on his blog where essentially he says to those who voted for Trump, “I believe you when you say you voted for Trump because of his business sense.” “I believe you when you say you voted for Trump because he’s a Washington Outsider.” “I believe you when you say you voted for Trump because he is going to drain the swamp and clean up Washington.”

I don’t believe that you voted for Trump because he says _______ about women and he does __________ and he believes it is okay to ____________ and he chose avowed racists for his advisors. So, unless you want me to believe you support those choices, stand up against those things. Stand up against his racist choices, stand up against the way he treats women……..

Then I will truly believe that is not why you voted for Trump.

I don’t have a copy of it with me, so google him and look it up. It raises a lot of questions about the people who voted for our current president and why they did.

But tonight, I learned that we need to pray for those who are our leaders, even if we don’t like what or how they lead. I knew it but it’s good to be reminded.

May we all go out and help our neighbors more, be more open to those who don’t look like us and serve others and shine God’s love where it’s currently dark.

That’s what my church taught me tonight.

Thank you, Brad, Erik, Joy, Darrell, Susie, Dave, Ricardo, Jermale, Laura, Attah – and I’m sure there were many more. You blessed us again tonight…..

Tom

Stateless girl, 12, stranded in Dominican Republic – 680 NEWS

http://www.680news.com/2017/08/04/stateless-girl-12-stranded-dominican-republic/

“One stroke of the pen and Dominican Republic created 750,000 stateless individuals,” says Earle.

I’m not going to get into discussing the details of this particular adoption, but there are a couple of very important numbers that we need to know about…..

60,000 (the number I’ve heard is 57,000) is the number of Haitians who are in the United States under TPS – Temporary Protection Status. Essentially the US allowed them to stay here because they were in the US when the earthquake happened in 2010. President Trump is working toward revoking that and many Haitians in the US are immigrating to Canada because they think their odds of being deported from Canada is less than from the Trump Administration.

The next number – 750,000. The Dominican Republic changed the status so that Haitians who were in the DR are no longer there legally. This newspaper article talks about the “sweeps” that the DR government is currently making in an effort to get the Haitians deported.

These numbers might seem to be abstract, but they aren’t. Each of these represents a family, a person, a history and a future. The system is broken. It needs to be fixed and just sending the numbers back to a country that isn’t able to take them in is not the answer…….

Tom V

Why are thousands of Haitians streaming into Canada from the U.S.? – Montreal – CBC News

Since 2010, the US government has said to these Haitians, we know your country is really really struggling. You can stay here for now.

The last time I was in Haiti (in May) it had been 5 years since I had been there. I was asked, what surprised you when we got here?

What surprised me was that basically nothing surprised me. Yeah, there were some improvements since the earthquake, but very little.

Now the US government is saying, “You’re wrong, everything is good, you are going back.” Because, apparently someone in the government took a 3 hour tour of Haiti.

Now the Haitians are fleeing to Canada because they believe the US government it’s going to make good on their threat of sending them back to Haiti and sending them to a life of poverty and splitting families up because from what I understand, if let’s say, “Mr. Smith” is here under temporary protected status and Mrs. Smith is here and in the process of getting her “green card” which is a step towards citizenship in the United States, if Mr. Smith get deported back to Haiti and Mrs. Smith goes with him, she loses her place in the green card line.

And that green card line could be as much as 22 years long.

So the US government is ripping apart families because they believe that Haiti is in “good shape” and it’s okay to send one parent back and leave the others here?

The immigration system in the United States is broken and it needs to be fixed, not just “enforced.” Enforcing a broken system doesn’t solve the problems…….

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/haitians-may-lose-protected-status-in-us-1.4233797

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