In Christ, Your Past does not direct Your Future

There’s this lady I know……

I’ve known her for maybe 5 years.

The title of this post is a paraphrase of her personal mission statement (only because I can’t remember the exact words of how she says it.) But the point is clear……

In Christ – nothing is possible without Christ. He’s the reason for everything and He’s the source of everything good.

Your past – whether it’s mistakes you’ve made or bad things that have happened to you, your past is exactly that, it’s your past.

Your past does not direct your future. When you are in Christ, what has happened to you in the past or what you have done in the past doesn’t direct your future.

God directs your future.

For the last 15 years, this lady has been teaching that, has been living that and has been loving that into the teenagers at Madison Square Church. It has changed countless lives.

It has changed mine and I’m a LONG way from being a teenager.

And God has used her to be the hands and feet of the church. Through trials, and struggles, through very hard times and through extremely fun times, she has walked with teenagers and supported them in ways that will echo in their lives for generations.

While it makes me sad that she’s leaving her position at Madison Square Church, I’m excited to see what God has planned. She’s taking her vision for teenagers to another level. She’s going to be at New City Kids and helping countless more kids across our area.

Kids who live in tough areas of Grand Rapids.

Kids who need to know that in Christ, your past does not direct your future.

Christy, thank you. Thank you for being there, no matter where there is. Thank you for being a difference maker for teens in a time when it is very difficult to be a teenager. Thank you for being, as one teen said you like to say, “I’ll be awkward so you don’t have to.” Thanks for being awkward – our kids need that. Even if they don’t think they do.

As you move into this next chapter of being a difference maker, know that you’ve been a blessing and that there are many people waiting to see God through you.

Thank you, my friend.

Tom

Haiti, TPS, 50% and What It Is

The following statements have been made about the current administration and Temporary Protected Status for approximately 59,000 Haitians who have been living and working in the United States. Most of them (I don’t know the exact number) came after the earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010.

Temporary Protected Status is a program that allows people to come into the United States when it has been declared that their country is unsafe due to political violence, genocide, natural disasters, war and ……….

A link to the stories that have these statements in them is at the bottom of this……

USCIS staff wrote a memo in October of 2017 that said that the conditions, the reasons for granting TPS for Haitians in the first place, have not improved.

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week called for an investigation after they uncovered diplomatic cables that showed “officials at the U.S. Embassies in El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras all stated that it would be in the ‘U.S. national interest’ to renew the TPS designations for their respective countries.”

“Haiti has made significant progress in recovering from the 2010 earthquake, and no longer continues to meet the conditions for designation,” wrote USCIS Director Francis Cissna in a Nov. 3 memo for Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.


But in an October 17 memo, Cissna’s staff at USCIS directly contradicted this rosy picture. “Many of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 TPS designation persist,” the memo noted. (Both memos are embedded at the bottom of this post.)

In a memo distributed to staff Thursday afternoon, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—the agency tasked with processing citizenship for applicants—announced it has scrubbed a passage of its mission statement of references to the U.S. being a nation of immigrants. Oooo-kay.


Tom here – so we are no longer a nation of immigrants? And it was the son of immigrants from Peru who made that change?

So let’s take a look at all of these statements. They all appear to be from reputable sources. Many of them name names and have links or even copies of documents embedded in them.

But I’ve never heard of splinternews.com before. Have you?

So, let’s apply the Vanderwell rule of 50% to what they have said in these three articles.

Remember what that is?

Let’s assume that half of what these articles say are made up, false, exaggerated or something of that sort.

If they are……

If they are, does what they are saying still ring true?

Here’s the way I see it. People in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Department did some of the following:
• Exaggerated the improvement of the conditions in Haiti.
• Attempted to find information that could make the Haitians here on TPS look bad.
• Ignored statements by their own staff that contained a much more realistic view of the conditions in Haiti.
• Ignored statements by State Department people in Haiti and elsewhere that sending these people back would be deterimental to US national security.

Stop and read those last 5 words.

Deterimental (that means bad).

To US National Security – that means dangerous for us if we send them back.

But they ignored those statements.

What else did they do? They continued to work for the US administration after the President referred to Haiti as a #$%$$tHole and said that all Haitians probably have AIDS.

If half of this is true, we have a current administration running the government that, well, I don’t think there’s any other conclusion for it.

They want to get as many people of color out of the United States as they can.

(If you have another conclusion to why these actions are happening, feel free to lay out your theory in the comments below.)

And they will falsify, ignore and attempt to malign people to make that goal happen.

Remember – the 50% rule – and we still have a disturbingly convincing case that the decision to end Temporary Protected Status was not done because Haiti is now a great place to live. Instead it was done for more sinister and uncomfortable reasons.

And as I have friends who live there, I’ve worked for organizations there, and know many Haitians, this makes me sad and angry at the same time.

Tom

The articles in question……

https://splinternews.com/immigration-agency-removes-clause-referring-to-the-u-s-1823250677

https://splinternews.com/dhs-ignored-its-own-staffs-findings-before-ending-human-1825323760

https://splinternews.com/dhs-officials-sought-negative-information-on-haitians-b-1826051056/amp

What I Know and What I Don’t – about Police Behavior in Holland Michigan

Friday morning, May 4, there was a domestic violence issue in Holland.   That’s all I’m calling it because I don’t know any more than that.   One of the parties involved, here again, I’m stating only what I’ve been told from people who I know personally and who I believe to be trustworthy, one of the parties left the scene and was believed to have a gun in his possession.

Later in the day, the Holland police officers pulled over a car in the parking lot of the Maple St. Ministries.  Watch Rev. Grier’s video that she took from her office window……

https://www.facebook.com/deegrier/videos/10160150118965447/

A couple of hours later, Rev. Grier also posted this video……

https://www.facebook.com/deegrier/videos/10160150610425447/
At 12:12 am on Saturday (so 6 hours later), The Holland Police posted this on Facebook:

 Holland Police Arrest Felony Suspect on Traffic Stop, Locate Gun Used in Domestic:

About 6:15pm on Friday evening, Holland Police officers made a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of 17th and Maple. Officers had information that a suspect, who was involved in a Domestic involving a handgun earlier in the day, was in the vehicle and was believed to be in possession of the gun. There were four people between 19 and 23 years old in the vehicle that were ordered out at gunpoint. The suspect was arrested and charged with Domestic Assault, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and had an unrelated warrant for his arrest. The driver was arrested, cited and released for a driving offense, and the other two passengers were released approximately 20 minutes after the stop.

(Bold print is mine)

There are three things that I don’t know that I would like to have the Holland Police answer for the public:

1.  Their statement says that they “had information.”   What information was that – was it a positive ID that it absolutely was the guy from the assault Friday morning?   Or was it a matter of, “here are four people from about the same age who are all people of color, driving around…..  Hmmmm…..”  If they had a reason beyond racial bias, they should share it with the community to restore trust.

2. The suspect was believed to be in possession of the gun – why did they believe that?  Did he flash it at someone while driving down 16th st?   Or did they assume?    If they had a reason beyond racial bias, they should share it with the community to restore trust.

3. Regarding to the guns to the head – after all four of the occupants of the car were out, searched, handcuffed and lying on the ground, the police officers not only still had their guns out but had them pointed directly at these four people’s heads.  What I would like to know, what I believe we need to know is a two part question:  a) Why did they feel they needed to continue to actively aim their guns at their heads when the police officers were no longer at risk from them?   b) Can the Holland Police provide documentation of another case with a similar pursuit and arrest involving white people where they kept their guns aimed at the occupants of the car even after they were out, searched and handcuffed?  If the police claim (and they do) that they were following standard protocol, then I would urge them to show information where they used that same protocol in a similar situation and the only thing that was substantially different was the color of the skin of the people in the car. 

It can’t happen in our neighborhood.  The way it looks right now, racial bias and execessive violence did happen in our world.

And we can not let it go quietly.

Tom

Once upon a time there was a family.

In this family, there was a Dad. Dad went to work every day to provide for his family.

In this family, there was a Mom.

Mom took care of their children.

As the children grew up, life was busy but it was good.

And if you went down their street, they were part of a community.

But……

Dad and Mom weren’t born in their town.

They were born elsewhere.

But this was their town.

They were raising a family…

They were making a difference….

They were part of their town.

Until one day, the government decided they weren’t part of their town.

Dad went to work one morning.

And he didn’t come home.

Not because he didn’t want to come home.

He didn’t come home because the government said that wasn’t his home and that this wasn’t his town.

The government decided that he was no longer allowed to live there and no longer allowed to be part of that community or to be with his family.

Shock, grief, horror ran through the community, how could this happen?

Mom carried on, even in her grief and shock.

She had to – they have children who needed her – more than ever.

Dad was gone – she had two roles to play.

And then it happened.

The unthinkable again.

Mom went to the store.
And.She.Didn’t.Come.Home
The government decided that she didn’t belong in that town either.

That town where they were raising a family.

That town where many people considered them neighbors and friends.

Why? You might be asking that question. A lot of people asked that question.

Ask a different question – “If Dad and Mom were born there, if Dad and Mom were part of the majority culture and race in the town, do you think they would be hauled away by the government and told they can’t be there?”

So what happened to Dad and Mom?

I don’t know.

I have another question that you and I and we all need to think about……

What town did/does this story take place in?

Berlin Germany in the 1930’s?

Or Grand Rapids Michigan in 2018?

TJV

The Passing of the Torch – a tale of two Doctors

Once upon a time, there was this kid from Muskegon (for those of you not from Michigan, that’s about 45 minutes northwest of Grand Rapids.)

As he grew up, he wanted to become a preacher.

So he did.

And it was good.

And he was good at it.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

And that kid went on to get additional education. After a while, he got another Master’s degree and then he got a doctorate.

But he never wanted to use that title. That’s just not what he was about. He was about helping people and serving God.

And it was good. It wasn’t easy but it was good.

Many times, it was hard but it was good.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

Four of those hard times came when his body was hit by cancer.

Those times impacted many people, touched many lives, encouraged many other people going through hard times.

In 1972, he beat the cancer.

In 1984, he beat the cancer.

In 1990, he beat the cancer.

And then it came back in 2017. A different type, a new battle, but still that “c” word.

By then, this kid from Muskegon was pushing close to 80 years old. That’s far enough along in years to have grandkids pursuing careers.

There was this girl from Jenison who wanted to become a nurse.

And she did.

And it was good.

And she was good at it.

And God used her to help people, particularly very sick kids and their families, in very difficult times.

It was hard, but it was good.

And then this girl from Jenison wanted to do more.

And God opened doors and she learned more and figured out more ways to help kids and their families.

And she taught college students who are learning to be nurses.

And she got more education.

After her grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, she said to her dad, “I think it’s too much to hope for, but I’d love it if Grandpa could be at my graduation.”

Dr. Vanderwell could attend Dr. Vanderwell’s graduation and be part of watching her become the next generation of Dr. Vanderwells.

But it wasn’t to be.

35 days. 

God called the first Dr. Vanderwell home 35 days ago.

For 35 days, there wasn’t a Dr. Vanderwell here on this earth.

But there is again.

In many ways, she’s a different Doctor.

But in many ways, she’s the same and has learned much from the first Dr. Vanderwell.

Do what you do to care for people.

Do what you do to make the world a better place.

Do what you do to spread the love of Jesus.

Today, we witnessed the passing of the torch.

From Grandpa to granddaughter.

While it hurts that he wasn’t able to be “here” to see the graduation, I know, we know, that he saw it from Heaven.

And it was good.

May God continue to bless the new Dr. Vanderwell and give her the continued passion to impact people and change lives like her Grandpa did – even though she’ll do it in her own special way.

And this Dad is proud of both generations today. Proud to be the first Dr. Vanderwell’s son and proud to be the second Dr. Vanderwell’s Dad.

God is good. (All the time)

All the time. (God is good)

Tom