Hey Rachel, We still live in a very segregated world. You and I more than most: us evangelicals like to stick to people who look, talk, and think exactly like we do. I've been thinking about this a lot lately; how we emphasize right doctrine, on how this tends to grow us only in certain ways. Want to pastor a mega-church? Target a specific demographic and market exclusively to them. Want to sell lots of books? Find your community and preach what they want to hear.
But you, my friend, have not done this. You have gone the other way, very much embracing diversity in your life, in a time when we find precious little of this in our tribe. You do not live your life in fear, nor do you do away with orthodoxy. Instead, you view differences of opinion and background as a way to broaden your own understanding of God; and that, Rachel, is a beautiful thing to witness.
You champion underdogs, no-names, marginalized people. You let people like myself write for your enormous platform. You make people feel valued, listened to, and heard. You are the opposite of dismissive. You still are the earnest do-gooder of your youth; but now you have cultivated a listening ear.
Without knowing it, our evangelical tribe has nurtured and focused on only certain types of crops. We love us some homogeneity, using fertilizer that can be toxic to everyone but a narrow set. It has proven to be successful, in its own way; it just might not be the way of Christ. So when I hear a voice like yours, continuously seeking to give space and time and grace to those who aren't being heard, who have haven't been nurtured in the church: I listen.
Thank you for doing what you do. The writing is superb, the topics so very timely; but it is your ear, Rachel, for the stories that are actually being lived out, that is your true gift.
So here's to you, on the day your book is released. We are praying for you and all the East Coast in the wake of the storm, praying for the controversies swirling around your writing, praying that the time would finally be ripe for our people to lay down some of their fears in the name of love.
Here's to you, RHE.
Thanks to the big-hearted J.R. Goudeau for her wonderful idea to gather the internets up this day for a show of support for our dear Rachel. Head on over to her blog to find many more Open Letters today.