Written by: Keeshon Washington

This story is Part 4 of a 4-part series.

Read Part 1 HERE

Read Part 2 HERE

Read Part 3 HERE

Leaving Home 

When I was sixteen my mom had not compromised all of her desires for me. She was still my mom, and I still gave her a respected voice in my life. One desire she held firmly was that I should go to college after I graduated. I always resented this rule because even after being influenced by the Mennonites for several years, I still felt smaller than white people and thought college was a lofty idea. It wasn’t a goal that was meant for someone who had been through the things I encountered. My mom had gone to college, but she was a white woman.

One evening, I returned from a week-long canoe trip with the men of our church. When I entered the house my mom was on the couch crying. She hopped up and hugged me like something seriously wrong was happening. My dad had been messaging an African scammer for quite some time, and my mom saw this as cheating. Because of my dad’s pills, and I’m convinced, many years of abusive language and behavior from my mom, his mental state wavered. He did this because the person on the other side of the screen made him feel good, something nobody else in his life was doing at the time. My mom was also very mentally unstable, and blew the entire thing out of proportion to victimize herself and get the attention that she never received. My dad temporarily moved out, and they both swore that this was the end of their relationship. I can’t justify the actions of my dad during this time, but this situation had me fed-up with having to pick sides. They were both making horrible decisions, and the only way for me to do any better was to loosen some of the influence they had on my life.

Knowing my parents were separating was really difficult for me. Because they weren’t married, I knew this was a more Biblically sound arrangement. I wondered if we should keep it this way. On the other hand, I as their son didn’t endorse something like this from preventing them being together. They were still both under the heavy influence of drugs and if they didn’t have each other they would both end up dead. My mom by overdose, and my dad from not having a primary caretaker.

In spite of all of this, I approached my mom with an ultimatum. It wasn’t me giving up on my parents. It was me realizing that if I was going to set out on a course to live a Christian life, I would need to somehow get out of this arrangement. I told my mom that I would drop out of school if I didn’t get to go to Tidings of Peace Christian School (TOP). It was the school our church ran and I had wanted to be a part of it ever since I was baptized. Austin’s father, Clayton, was making a big push for it as well, and was willing to advocate for me in trying to convince my mom. The rule that my mom gave Clayton was that if I went to TOP, I would need to promise to go to college afterwards. Clayton promised her that would happen, which I thought was crazy, but I took it as a blessing. Whenever Clayton said he was going to do something, it was going to happen. After the summer was over, I was finally going to be a student at TOP.

This summer was also the summer I was able to forgive my parents. Clayton sat down with me and his discipling efforts became more aggressive. He pointed out a verse to me in the book of Matthew that proved that if I didn’t forgive my mother and father, God would not forgive me. I told Clayton that this meant I probably wasn’t forgiven then, so we purposed together to make sure it happened. I don’t remember a clear time or situation that caused this forgiveness to happen. It was almost as if God had just exacted my desire to become free from the pain of unforgiveness. Once I purposed in my heart to forgive, God granted me that peace.

This, to me, is the most common issue in the lives of urban youth. The pressure to forgive people of unforgivable things is not only difficult but a very confusing idea. Nearly everyone I encounter that has made progress on their spiritual journey finds themselves stuck at a place of unforgiveness. This is a deadly state, because without freedom, damnation is imminent. 

The part that I could tell my mom wasn’t happy about was Clayton’s offer to have me move out and live with them. I learned years later that Clayton was offering it to me and would make it happen if it was what I wanted, regardless of her answer. There were plenty of reasons Child Protective Services could have taken me away from my parents, and I had been interviewed by them before. Clayton wasn’t sure if he could continue to be aware of the abuses happening in our home and not do something to help. I moved out in August and began to ready myself for the school year.

That school year didn’t meet my expectations. I thought that despite the challenge of me being an example to all the younger students, I would find it to be an oasis. A first-year teacher and a lot of difficult subjects later, I realized quickly that this wasn’t going to come easy for me. I still saw it as a worthy investment, because I wanted to return and be a teacher someday after college. At this point in my life, I realized there was a difference between appearances and what is actually in the heart. I had benefited greatly from becoming a Mennonite, but now it was time to truly change what was happening on the inside. The Mennonites were super easy to trick, but God wasn’t going to be fooled.

Graduation in itself was a statement. My extended family came to support me, and I feared that they would judge me. My dad and mom were considered the failures of their respective families. I never saw it that way personally, but that was how we were always treated. I grew up feeling like the crack baby that neither family would ever fully accept. It had nothing to do with my race, but everything to do with the decisions of my parents.

There has always been a wall between me and the people I share blood with. Some people we are indebted to by coincidence, and for some others that commitment is easy to embrace. Family relations were always tense, and I dreaded them finding out more about my life path. They all wanted me to become more than my parents, and graduate from a great college and get out of the city. It would come as an initial disappointment to some of them that I planned to attend a Mennonite Institution and return back to my home area. The graduation broke the tension and forced my family to either accept me or move on. To this day they’ve expressed more desire to be in my life than I could have ever expected. I’m grateful for that and hoping to better communicate with them in the future. Many of the people in my extended family are successful and decent people. I’ve been blessed in ways others have not, and my previous identity issues are not as strong today.

The next year I worked as a staff member at TOP. I assisted Clayton in filling some holes while Austin was away for his first year at Faith Builders. I would be joining Austin soon and we would get to overlap during his second year. We had grown distant due to his marriage and life path, but I enjoyed getting closer to his family back at home and began to settle in as more of an established family member.

Clayton began working with me to begin the process that would fulfill the promise I gave to my mom. I promised her I was going to college, and now I had to do it. I toyed with the idea of getting a full bachelor’s degree in education, but comfortably settled into a plan to attend Faith Builders Educational Program (FB). I applied early in the school year and made it a matter of prayer for the rest of the year. I was very anxious, because I knew that I was going to be in debt by the time all of this was said and done.

I was working with a student one day when the school secretary came in with mail for me. Once I was finished with the student, I opened up a letter from Faith Builders. I was granted a full scholarship. I ran through the halls interrupting classes. I never felt so relieved and blessed in my entire life. This felt like confirmation to me, as if God was giving me permission to take some time away from home and become a more solid person. I was about to invest two years into my life, and I knew that I had a ton of support heading into it.

Adult Life 

My two years at FB took me to places I was able to avoid most of my life. It certainly wasn’t the hardest time of my life, but it exposed many of the hidden things that I kept secret from anyone else. I was suddenly in an environment that took me away from my main support group. I would need to wholly rely on God to help me in the difficult times, and there were plenty of those.

This time also helped me to embrace and accept my identity as an Anabaptist. It’s not that being Anabaptist was the most important thing in my life, but because of the group I had decided to join, it was significant. FB is unapologetically an Anabaptist institution, and this is exactly what I needed. I left FB asking myself if this was really the path of life that I wanted to take. FB gave me an idea of the history, teachings, and values that identify the Anabaptist tradition. I ultimately decided that I was happy to continue, that I wanted to go home and continue being a part of the brotherhood.

Getting home presented a greater set of challenges. I spent two years in a vacuum, and now I was back in the real world. I was also now a “real teacher”. This was my dream. I had wanted to be a teacher at Tidings of Peace for years. Years of investment and hard work were now going to be put into practice. I couldn’t wait.

My first day as a teacher confirmed to me that education was where I wanted to invest my life. Education is the most effective tool we have to combat poverty in America. Working closely with students that were growing up in the same environment I did was invigorating. It felt like I was in my element, and I was doing what I was made to do. That feeling hasn’t waned today. I may not always love every part of my job, but I love the big picture.

As far as where I am today with my family, I am in a very good place. My dad passed away 5 years ago, and I just recently lost Clayton to prostate cancer on Christmas of last year. But I was adopted into the Shenk family (officially) early of last year, which was largely due to Clayton’s desire to see me as an acknowledged part of the family. We had been family for years, but he wanted to make sure everyone knew.

My biological dad and mom came clean off of the drugs soon after I moved out, and mom has kept clean ever since. She lives comfortably in a suburban home away from all of the troubles that she found living in the city. I love her and find her as an important part of my life going forward.

Overall, I dedicate most of my time to the lives of my students. I love to engage other urban ministries, and I do this by either going to share with their young people or by just coming to observe. I enjoy writing because it is timeless. I hope that by sharing my life with others, I can proclaim a Gospel and God that is accessible to all, and worthy of our devotion.

In closing, let’s look back at where this all began. One invitation to VBS, and many reckless nights since then, I am where I am today because of God’s grace. Thankfully, there were laborers sent to York to reach out to people like me. It is especially urgent in the current times that we live in that we all commit to labor for God in His fields. York is just one of many places God’s people are needed; find a place to reach out to others and start acting. You don’t need to go door-to-door, but any relationships you gain will not go to waste.

For more practical advice on how we could improve our Anabaptist kids/youth clubs, visit Keeshon’s blog at The articles written there are for the purpose of encouraging and informing others working in urban environments. 

The end

Keeshon Washington is a teacher and mentor at Tidings of Peace(TOP) Christian School in York, Pa. He became a member of the local Mennonite church there when he was just 13 years old and after graduating from TOP spent two years attending Faith Builders educational programs. Since returning, he has dedicated his time to teaching social studies, discipling several young men, mentoring youth, and bridging gaps wherever he can in the Menno-world. Read more from him and what he is passionate about at [email protected] 

My Ethics, Your Ethics, and the Dilemma Between

Anabaptist Perspectives, Uncategorized

Written by: Roseanne Bauman

Part 3

Most adults who have achieved a certain level of maturity have a well-developed set of cultural values and a preferred decision-making ethic, whether or not they are aware of those paradigms within themselves. I am no different. As a Christian professor at a secular community college I am comfortable with my established worldview. However, my current class of nursing students, who are foreign trained professionals from many countries around the world, are helping me reevaluate my paradigm. 

In a class on ethics I used as an example the timeworn question, “What would you do if someone asked you, as the nurse, to baptize their baby?” The scenario is that the baby is imminently dying and the parents are afraid the priest won’t arrive on time to baptize it, and the baby will not go to heaven, so they ask the nurse to baptize it quickly. Nurses are encouraged to assist people to carry out their religious rituals where possible. During the discussion, one of the students mentioned that they couldn’t really answer the question because they had no idea what baptism was! OK! Back up the bus! I have made an assumption out of my cultural background that everyone would understand this scenario. I am challenged daily to think about examples that can be used when the group’s cultural backgrounds are so varied.

You should have seen how shell-shocked these poor people looked after our class on spirituality, death, grief, and laws around consent and refusal to treat. In one two-hour span we wandered around religion, faith, death, questioning God, suicide, brain death, organ donation, what to do with a body after death, declarations of incapacity, powers of attorney, and DNRs. I think I have removed any doubt in their minds that Canadians are heathen! Oh, how I’d love to have time to hear all their perspectives on these things! Really, which option demonstrates care for a family member best? To tell them the truth about their medical condition, or to shield them from the truth and let their family make decisions? I vote for the most astute student who said, “If Canadians are so concerned about autonomy in decision-making, I would think they would at least keep their Powers of Attorney up to date!” The idea about family coming to view a body before it is removed to the funeral home just didn’t sit for some of them. The doozy of the day for me was “What is the difference between a spirit and a soul?” It would take considerable time to explore even a frame of reference that could be used to begin answering that one!

One of the differences in cultural values we teachers battle with all the time is working with students from more collectivist cultures.  What do we do when a concern for the group and cooperative achievement are more important than the competition and individual achievement our educational system is built on? It is easy for me with my cultural value system to say students who share work are cheating. I can even quote scripture to support my position ethically. However, this group challenges me to ask, is scripture not just as supportive of an ethic of putting the welfare of others ahead of individual achievement? Is my way really the high road?

Another thing I find challenging is communicating with students who are working from a whole different set of communication rules and power structure expectations than I am. When a student says to me, “Do you know who I am? I could purchase your entire college if I wished to!” am I to understand that the proper response is to grant the student the desired grade or credential based on wealth and position? Or what about students who understand an assigned grade as the first offer in a bartering process? I am no good at bartering grades! And what about the remainder of the class who don’t know they should barter? I have an ethic about treating all students as equally as possible! Or what about a student who begins with flattery and ends with begging and prostration on the ground before me to obligate me to give them what they want since they have so honored me? Relationships ought to trump some arbitrary rule about a passing grade after all! Isn’t God’s economy all about loving people? Oh, where is the well-developed “one-size-fits-all” paradigm I thought I had now?

As I navigate this world that is opening my ethnocentric eyes a bit, I still refer to God’s Word to help me decide what is right or wrong, but I am a little quicker to assess whether or not my initial responses are perhaps purely culture bound. I am a little more open to considering where my views originate and to let that inform my interactions. And I am happy to discuss what is going on when I am confused. I want to see what I can learn.

Aug. 16, 2020

Learning from our Neighbors

Learning from our Neighbors


Introduction:  I would like for you all to meet Lavern & Rosanna Yoder.  Rosanna is my cousin and I used to work with Lavern with Choice Books in Sacramento, CA.  Lavern, Rosanna & their 3 children live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a 600+ apartment complex.  Lavern’s have been dedicated to the kids there for years and they have been using their talents in having kid’s clubs, ESL classes, tutoring and more.  All of this is run through their non-profit called Streetlight Christian Ministries.  Head on over to their website to read what they do, sign up for their newsletter and more!!  In working with them, I have been amazed with their dedication to the kids and in living the way God called them to live.  

Is living in a 2 bedroom apartment in a city the calling for everyone to do?  No, however my encouragement to you is to read this article with an open mind.  Many of us have been sheltered to the point that we think it is crazy to live in the city.  However, regardless of where we live, we can always learn from our neighbors in some way. They have a lot to teach us if we just let them.

– Dave

When my wife and I got married and moved into an apartment complex in Sacramento, CA, my neighbors began to give me an education.  Several years after this education began, I was reading the Bible and read the story Jesus told in Matthew 25 about the king and the servants who were given talents.  It struck me how much I am like these servants and how I also have decisions to make regarding my talents.

Growing up, I never worried about my father coming home from work.  Now I work with boys whose parents never came back to pick them up from daycare.

I took for granted that family gatherings are a fun time with my cousins until I talked with my neighbor and discovered that she won’t go to a family gathering for fear her uncle would try to harm her.

I didn’t know I had a safety net around me until my neighbor was evicted because her child was taken away by Child Protective Services, and she no longer had child support to pay for her apartment.  Right now, I have dozens of people I could call, and they would send me $1,000 with almost no questions asked, if I had a legitimate need.

I grew up enjoying acapella 4-part harmony singing.  I come from a musically inclined family and singing came almost naturally for me.  Now I go visit elderly friends with a group to sing and they can’t believe how we “sing like angels”.

When my neighbor’s car wouldn’t start, I pulled jumper cables out of my trunk and helped them out.  How did I learn that? I’m not really sure. I think I was born knowing how to do that.

My neighbor asked me, “Why do you work so hard?  You don’t have to. That’s what the government is for.”  But I know a secret. Work not only provides income, it also changes how I feel emotionally, physically, and in some ways spiritually.  But I only know that because I was taught to work hard.

One of the first questions many Anabaptist people ask me is, “Is it safe to live where you live?”  I have learned that safety is of the Lord. But it surely helps that I don’t do drugs or sleep around or drink or wander aimlessly at 3:00 AM.  Those are personal decisions I make, but they are greatly influenced by my Anabaptist heritage.

When my wife and I were going out on our first date, no one had to take my wife aside and make sure she had pepper spray in case she needed it.  It had never occurred to either of us that assaults are not unusual on first dates.

Sometimes when I travel to speak or go to a conference, I stay at a complete stranger’s house.  I might even arrive after they are in bed. But they trust me because of my family or someone I know or their pastor.  That is not normal!

My neighbors would line up down the sidewalk for my wife’s homemade cookies.  One of our neighbors said, “When you start a bakery, I will come every day for a cinnamon roll!”  Why does Rosanna know how to bake like that? She was taught by her mother.

Recently there was a knock on our door.  When I opened it, there was a neighbor with a jacket.  She wondered if Miss Rosanna would be able to sew extra patches on it since Rosanna sews her own clothes.

One of my Muslim neighbors is afraid something bad happened to her son because he went under a tree after dark.  All the Muslims in my neighborhood know that demons are in the trees after dark. And so, she lives in fear. I am so thankful I don’t have to fear superstitions!

Several years ago, my phone rang.  It was Life Matters, a ministry that works with people in apartments.  We work with them in doing our kid’s club. The person on the other end asked if I knew how to garden.  Well, I don’t really have a green thumb, but I know what a garden looks like and my parents had a garden.  That is enough. The person says, “You and Rosanna seem like that kind of people.” So, now we are in charge of a community garden for anyone in Logan Park Apartments where we live.

The thing that I realize with many of these blessings is that my wife and I were not given the choice to be born where we were born.  We did not choose to learn many of the skills we know. We have been handed a tremendous gift. It is a terrible shame when we throw these good things out just because we don’t understand the value of our heritage.

I want to be fair.  My children are growing up in a very different environment than I did.  They will have a very different view of the world than I did. They are learning very different things than I learned.  We don’t talk about cows very much around our dinner table. We discuss people and cars and who was at the park and what tricks you can try on a skateboard.  And yet, I want to give my children the same values I have been given. The surroundings will look different, but the values can still be there.

Those of us who grew up in Anabaptist homes have been given such a head start in life.  A good work ethic, good singing, and safety are not what makes us Christians. But these things give us huge advantages in life.  But we are given a choice like the servant with the talents in Matthew 25. We can either bury our talent and pour all of our energy into protecting what we have, or we can invest in the lives of others and give the talents to the “exchangers” so God can receive His own with interest when He returns.

Written by:  Lavern Yoder

March 2020

Thank You God for Answered Prayer – Relaunching the Blog

Thank You God for Answered Prayer – Relaunching the Blog


1 Chronicles 29:13: “And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”

Hello everyone.  We are excited to announce that Anabaptist Perspectives will be relaunching our blog emails starting in January 2020.  We are grateful to God for His direction in the past and are praying for his direction for the future as well. We have been praying for some time that God would lead someone to Anabaptist Perspectives to fill this calling. We praise God for His perfect timing in leading a brother to us that loves managing this type of ministry.

My name is Dave Eshbach.  Some time ago, I came across the Anabaptist Perspective’s website and YouTube channel.  I was extremely inspired by what I read and watched.  Later on then, I saw that they were looking for someone to help start the blog back up and to manage all the details.  After some talk and prayer, I felt God leading me to accept the position.  Growing up, I often desired that others would teach me how to study the Bible, how to have a deep relationship with God, and so on.  Because of the longings that I had growing up, I was determined to do something with my life.  Do something for God to impact others and to show others God’s love for them.

Our little family of 3 lives in Richmond, Virginia. We recently moved here to spread the Light of Jesus to this dark city. Living in an apartment, we have close neighbors and love the opportunities that come up to witness for Jesus.

My desire for this blog is that God would receive all the glory.  We as humans are nothing compared to God and His universe.  Isaiah 40:15 says:  Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Currently, our goal is to send out a blog at the beginning of every month starting in January. Please pray for myself, the board, and the proofreaders as we together with God’s help use our talents to share God’s Truth with the world each month. We feel the weight on our shoulders to teach the whole truth so no-one would be led astray but be drawn closer to Jesus.  Also, pray for the writers that they would be open to God’s voice as they they write what is on their hearts.

Would you like to see a certain topic be covered?  Please feel free to email me at [email protected].

May God be praised in everything we do!!

1 Chronicles 29:13: “And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”

Anti-Abortion or Pro-Lives? A Call to Redemptive Engagement with the Abortion Crisis

Anti-Abortion or Pro-Lives? A Call to Redemptive Engagement with the Abortion Crisis


Charis Kauffman, along with her husband Kenneth and and their 2-year-old daughter, lives in Brooklyn, NY. As a family they are discovering that their passions are bigger than their energy. If the Kauffman family is not at home when you stop by for a visit, you can likely find them in one of the many coffee shops throughout NYC, sipping on a mug of craft coffee.


The recent passing of the Reproductive Health Act by the New York State Legislature has served as a chilling wake up call to many Christians. The passing of this Act removed a long-standing ban on abortion after twenty-four weeks, effectively making it possible for a full-term abortion of any child if sanctioned by a healthcare professional. New York joined eight other states that provide no legal protection for infants inside the womb. However, the public reaction and emotion surrounding this bill have seemed to be stronger than when previous states enacted similar laws. The political climate may be partly to blame for this response, but two other factors contributed to this as well. One, the Act was signed into law by a governor who is affiliated with the Catholic Church. Two, the passing of the bill was celebrated by lighting up famous sites in NYC with pink.

My heart is heavy. I have wept over this tragic decision here in my state. I ache deeply over the evils of abortion and the millions of human lives this horror has claimed. I hurt for the thousands of women who are merely seen and used as pawns for political power on all sides of the issue. I grieve for how little value we, as a nation, are putting on human lives. And, quite frankly, I am troubled by the responses of many conservative Christians to this issue. In writing this article, my desire is to confront some common misconceptions and counter-productive attitudes surrounding the abortion issue while casting a vision for a more redemptive response.

As Christians, we believe that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His own image. This is a dignity that we must value, defend, and promote for all humans, born or unborn. All humans are created for purpose, for relationship with Jesus, to be known and loved by God. We must be pro-life!

Too often, followers of Jesus equate pro-life with only being anti-abortion. I too was guilty of this. It was while volunteering at a holistic pregnancy crisis center as an older teenager that my eyes were opened to the complexities surrounding the abortion issue. As I heard women’s stories, saw their pain, and prayed with them, I came to understand that I had to embrace much more than an anti-abortion stance before I could claim to be pro-life. I realized the Christian’s duty surrounding this issue is not cookie-cutter clean; it necessarily is messy because it is inherently broken. Pro-life means being pro-baby, pro-mom, and pro-dad. It means holding up a standard of morality while being willing to wade into the messiness, joining Jesus in His pursuit of cosmic redemption. Prettily packaged answers of abstinence, adoption, and the need for new laws are not enough. There is a place for Band-Aids (thank God they exist), but our primary focus should be on limiting the wounds.

Confronting Common Misconceptions and Poor Responses

We often need to clean up our own core assumptions and reshape our own mindsets before we can begin to engage in healthy, redemptive ways with contemporary issues. The abortion crisis is no exception. Here are some troubling mindsets and responses that I (and others who gave input for this article) have heard or noticed among conservative Christian circles.

#1. The Baby is Unwanted / The Mother is Selfish

While this may occasionally be true for abortion cases, it is often not the case. Many women who feel like they must choose abortion come from horrible situations. As a mother, I would shudder to have my child grow up in the generational clutches of brokenness and evil that many women are caught in. These women often feel the same way . They have no desire for their child experience the horrors with which they live. Many are caught without finances, resources, and limited opportunities and they see no way out. There is often incredible shame alongside pregnancy and these mothers have no desire for their child to have to carry the shame of how it was conceived and the situation it was born into. When this is all you know and the only “hope” you have for your child, it doesn’t take much to convince yourself, or to be convinced that abortion is the loving option.

Friends, please be careful of assuming or using language that implies that an aborted baby is an unwanted baby. This mindset and these accusations only serve to create a culture of judgment and shame that will drive women away when they most need our love and support.

#2. The Mother Needs to Get Her Life Together and Stop Sleeping Around with Men

As was mentioned above, many women who choose abortion are living in hopeless situations without anybody in their life to give them love and support. Many times sex is the only path for them to feel at all wanted or loved. Or sex may be “forced” on them as a way of staying in a relationship and having housing and a place to belong. Carrying a baby full-term often means losing a job, embracing shame, losing a boyfriend/husband, and possibly homelessness.

It is much easier for us to judge and give advice than to engage in the mess with love and support. If we want to save children, though, we must be willing to love and support mothers. I cringed recently when I heard the testimony of a mother who chose an abortion after being shamed by her pastor but felt loved and understood by the people at the abortion center. This was the reason she was willing to choose their advice. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated scenario.

#3. Adoption is the Abortion Alternative

Please, don’t get me wrong! I am all for adoption. I have close friends and relatives who have adopted. I wish more people would choose to adopt. I think adoption is heroic.

But…adoption is not the cure-all, or even the best solution for the abortion crisis. As mentioned above, a woman who chooses to carry her child full-term and adopt, is still often likely to lose her job, face rejection, and stay caught in the same terrible lifestyle. So often the cry of “just give me the baby” is coming from an attitude that forgets or disdains the mother and the father of the child. Adoption is beautiful and good but it is a reflection of brokenness. It is only an option because of sin in this world. While it may be a beautiful answer with beautiful stories, I fear that sometimes we see adoption as the only alternative to offer because it is the cleaner alternative to the messiness of caring and supporting the mother, the father, and the child. Adoption is a Band-Aid and I’m grateful for it. But friends, please don’t promote it as the primary alternative/cure or use it as a way of helping from a sanitary distance.

Pursuing Redemptive Responses

So, what is the cure? Ultimately, the cure is for Jesus to return, fully eradicate evil, and bring to completion His desire for a pure, redeemed world. Until then, the whole cosmos continues to groan in brokenness, longing for redemption (See Romans 8). Jesus does not stand at a distance simply observing this groan until the time of consummation; He is active! Our Savior went into the heart of brokenness, getting bloodied and enduring the worst torment imaginable in order to provide a path of redemption. He emerged victorious and stands as a gigantic figure of hope for a broken, sinful world. But He still wears a bloody robe and is on a redemptive campaign (Revelation 19). He calls us to join Him, the bloodied King, on this redemptive quest into the middle of this groaning, cosmic mess.

Can we as people of Jesus be His light, His hope, His hands and feet in practical ways? Messy ways? Painful ways? Jesus-like ways? There are so many practical methods to engage with and support redemptive ministry. Here are some suggestions.

Photo by Charis Kauffman

Engage In Redemptive Relationships

If we are going to help change the narrative of abortion, we must begin with local relationships. Advocating for new laws, sharing opinions on social media, and writing blog posts (like this one) have their place, but these are not the primary way to make a difference.

The narrative really begins to change:

  • When a mother in crisis is loved, supported, and shown a new path. When she finds a real friend that she can rely on and gives her hope.
  • When fathers and men in broken situations are pursued and befriended. When we help them learn the value of love and, through loving them, they learn how to love their wives/girlfriends, and their children.
  • When we engage with broken families, inviting them into our homes and adopting them into our families, providing new circles of friends.
  • When we learn to listen to an individual before we judge their situation or motives.
  • When we adopt children and do foster care, changing the narrative for the next generation. When we are willing to pursue the messy situations like adoption or foster care of babies with medical conditions, helping to show the medical world and the parents that there is a way to love and care for these children.
  • When we stop shaming unplanned pregnancies, inside and outside our churches, and instead celebrate the gift of life. Yes, sin must be addressed, but nobody involved should have to carry that burden of shame. God is a God of redemption.

We, the people of Jesus, should be able to show much better love than the worker at an abortion center. People in crisis go to and trust people that understand and love them. The onus to put abortion centers out of business does not have to rest on politicians; it is our task! Let’s be willing to get messy, risk pain, and follow our redemptive Lord into redemptive relationships.

Provide Redemptive Opportunities

Alongside redemptive relationships should be a pursuit of providing redemptive opportunities, giving a tangible path to a new life.

Here are some ideas:

  • Provide good job opportunities for single mothers and low-income families. We have many incredible, untapped opportunities in our businesses to change the abortion narrative. Be willing to embrace the mess and risk of hiring ladies in crisis and fathers of unplanned pregnancies. Too often we have embraced the lie that they just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, not recognizing the incredible ways that they are limited through lack of connections and opportunities.
  • Provide safe houses for women in crisis with opportunities for education and learning new skills. There are some incredible ministries that are doing this and we could learn from them.
  • Provide care centers for women that offer holistic, free, and judgment-free care as an alternative to abortion clinics that often offer other free services for women.
  • Provide childcare for single mothers so that they can hold jobs and not be faced with homelessness or forced into abusive situations to provide food and shelter for them and their children.
  • Provide inner-city schools and after school programs to help change the story for the next generation.

Support Redemptive Ministries

I am so encouraged by the hundreds of individuals and ministries who are involved in holistic, redemptive causes. These are grueling, messy pursuits and these people need our support, both physically and emotionally.

  • Support your local PCC (Pregnancy Crisis Center). Be willing to volunteer and get involved in caring for women in crisis. Many times these centers are struggling for financial means to stay afloat and need our financial assistance.
  • Support families in foster care and those who are adopting. These are draining ministries both financially and emotionally.
  • Support the families who receive a grave medical diagnosis for their unborn child. Families facing this are often given the option of abortion by medical professionals as way to spare their child from suffering. These people need our support and help to face the life-altering changes that often comes with these diagnoses. I asked a friend with a medically fragile child for suggestions on how people can help in these situations. Here are some of her ideas:
    • Money Gifts
    • Simple encouragement
    • People to help with household chores during long hospital stays
    • Inviting them to birthdays, after church meals, and special events. Even if they can’t make it due to medical reasons it means the world to be remembered.
    • Having one or two people to learn the special needs of the child and provide babysitting for date nights, assistance with doctor appointments, etc…
  • Give people involved in abortion ministry or women’s ministry a platform to share about their work and opportunities to educate others for this ministry. Spend time with them in their work, learning from them.
  • Support inner-city schools and children’s ministries.
  • Support organizations that are involved in holistically confronting the abortion crisis and caring for women or families in crisis. Here is a list of some organizations doing this well:
    • The Archibald Project
    • Save the Storks
    • The Esther House
    • The Morning Center
    • Show Hope (providing adoption aid, post adoption support, and care centers)

Friends, the abortion crisis should be a call-to-action for us. This call-to-action is much more than simply taking an anti-abortion stance or raising our voices in protest from a distance; it means being pro-life for all. What our country really needs is a massive human wave of Jesus followers going straight into the mess of broken relationships and evil that has caused this abortion crisis. We follow a Savior who offers redemption and hope to the broken and the evil. Let’s wade in with Him. There is hope!

“End Those Muslims!” – A Response to Jerry Falwell Jr.

“End Those Muslims!” – A Response to Jerry Falwell Jr.


The following is taken from an interview with Dan* conducted by Reagan Schrock. Dan is on staff with an Anabaptist relief organization and has spent several years living in the Middle East. He is a pastor and will be moving with his family back to the Middle East to aid in the refugee crisis.
*name withheld for security reasons


Three years ago Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the largest Christian Evangelical University in America, said,

“If more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they go out trying to kill us…Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.” 1

The context for his statement was in regard to the San Bernardino shooting that was currently in the news at that time, in which two Muslims entered a holiday party in California and shot a number of people. That incident followed a string of other terrorist attacks that had been going on in the United States and other Western countries over the last several years.

Liberty University often comments on current events and this was a reaction Falwell gave as a means of instruction to his students. The motive that I see driving statements like this is fundamentally a widespread concept among many Christians about the nature of America. In the book The Myth of a Christian Nation,2 the author discusses the idea of America being designed as a Christian Nation: for Christians, by Christians, Christian’s running the government, Christians participating. There is a lot of fear among people that have this view because they feel like this idea is gradually being pushed out as America becomes a more pluralistic society and more people arrive from other countries. They have a sense that America is being threatened, and we need to protect ourselves; that, as Christians, we need to stand up for what we have and for our rights.

I believe that comments like Falwell’s are motivated by a core idea that the rights of Christians in America are under threat and being trampled on by leftists, Muslims, and others. If it takes physical force to defend against those opposing forces, then that’s what they are prepared to do. Falwell intended to direct his statement towards Muslims who were involved in terrorist attacks and not all Muslims in general, but whatever the case, he was speaking about ending the lives of souls that God created.

I would say the majority of those who identify as fundamental, evangelical Christians would have supported Jerry Falwell or been in a similar way of thinking, though certainly not across the board. There are people at various levels in their response to Muslims and their responses as to how much they want to interact with them. Fear is definitely prevalent among the evangelical Christian community, and possibly parts of even more mainstream Christianity.

So now we ask the question: How would Christ respond?

When reading the New Testament, you will see almost exactly the opposite of what Falwell prescribed. Jesus made statements such as “love your enemies”,3 “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”4 There is one constant message that Jesus gave: The people who treat us badly are the people we are supposed to treat the best. It is very counter-cultural and counterintuitive, but that’s absolutely the message that Christ gave to His people here on earth.

The Anabaptist story is about 500 years old now, and throughout their history the Anabaptists have been an oppressed, persecuted people who have said, “We will stand up for our beliefs in Scripture no matter what it costs. Even if it means death by fire, drowning, stoning—we are willing to suffer and die.” However, times have changed and now the majority of conservative Anabaptists live in America with comfortable lifestyles and little persecution.

So how do we respond to terrorism and Islam? I fear that sometimes we are too affected by our neighbors and friends who would spread fear and make us want to respond in defensive ways by saying, “This is our country. We don’t want to let you in.” As Anabaptists we should never feel proud or superior in our understanding of Scripture, but the way of Christ is always the way of love. We have a tremendous opportunity to follow Jesus’ teachings and respond in nonresistant love when facing opposition or persecution.

Jesus said very clearly that we are not to fear those that are able to kill the body, but to fear him [the devil] who is able to destroy both body and spirit in death.5 Obviously, as humans, we do have some fears and I think God understands those, but He’s encouraging us that what we should really fear is spiritual failure and spiritual death. Fearing people and certain groups that may have the potential to harm us physically isn’t really the point. We may take some precautions, but our chief goal is not to preserve our lives. This concept involves a radical change of thinking. We’re here only for a few short years anyway, and if we can get that mindset, it changes everything. Jesus is teaching us a way of peace, love, and forgiveness, and that’s a powerful message to any enemy.