By Linda Morgan
Review of Joseph’s time in Spokane, WA and Sandpoint, ID 3 Nov – 13 Nov 2018
(Photo courtesy Spokane International Airport)
Adult Education class of Spokane Community Colleges “History of Slavery, Segregation and Racism” taught by Mr. Chet Caskey lawyer and history professor (8 Nov) – Joseph was invited to share his insights on about his work with helping to restore American descendants of African Slaves to their ancestral heritage. He shared how important it can be for people to know where they come from to help with re-establishing their identity. His in-depth understanding of the African Slave Trade Triangle and history related to it was shared in ways relevant to the theme of the class in understanding the reasons for many of the difficulties people have currently in being able to reconcile with the past. His use of his stated Christian perspective gave the class a chance to see an added dimension to how intertwined reconciliation is with forgiveness. Class members were quickly engaged in his presentation and the question and answer time. Joseph was easily able to provide accurate and meaningful answers to complex questions. Class members left with a greater insights of the material that had been covered in the previous five weeks of class by Mr. Caskey as well as the current events in Joseph’s homeland of Cameroon.
Fellowship of TruSelf Passage gathering (10 Nov) – A gathering of 10-12 multi-denominational people that regularly meets to discuss and understand ways of implementing universal teachings into daily life. Joseph presented a very timely message on reconciliation using verses from the Old and New Testament of the Bible to show where the need for reconciliation came from. Each verse pointed to our path from being in the presence of God, in the Garden of Eden to why there is a need for reconciliation and how we can gain that. The teaching are of the soul and for the soul which goes beyond the typical social and psychological understandings and teachings in the world. When questions arose about the scriptures meaning, Joseph was easily able to relate contemporary examples to help clarify the understanding of the verse/s. His inspired use of key verses elegantly brought to light the process of reconciliation via love and forgiveness. Moving and inspiring.
JOSEPH: The work of reconciliation is costly.
Reflections from the Agape Gathering participants
The ultimate Biblical Model of Reconciliation The tree of life Marty: I as a grandmother made a play space for my grandchildren with all kinds of good things to do in the large piece of land I have; want kind of a loving parent would put such an attractive element into such a landscape and then say “don’t touch this one.”
Another comment: Like being set up for failure?
Pam: I love the language you use, it is so heart-opening. We receive the Christ within us; Yeshua shows us how to follow
Marty: I’ve been focusing on forgiveness—finding myself in a place where when I have been focusing on forgiving others I find myself focusing more also on forgiving myself. There’s a shift—I’m understanding more that feeling of separation from God—it’s the guilt—going back to that initial separation
Other: This is much more than a peace treaty. It’s about our relationship with God and each other
Larry: This has always been the lesson—forgiveness, especially forgiving ourselves
Other: Reconciliation is more than just a (surface) relationship. It’s friendship—intimate friendship. It is emotional—heart level.
Pam: There can be sneaky thoughts that cause misinterpretations. It’s about unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for us Unconditional love cannot co-exist—-until we let go—-much is buried in our minds. Others can bring those things out. We can be in hiding. We need to surrender. That’s the power of reconciliation.
Denise: You grew up with some association with Church and yet you felt you needed to reject and distance yourself from that influence. How is it that reconciliation seems not to be the central message of the Church?
Based on Jesus’ work and the convention between God and Humanity in Christ, how do you describe what the Spirit provides for us as believers and how does that relate to the ministry of reconciliation.
Looking back on the Haiti YouTube portions that show so much division— such as the man who said White is White and Haiti is Haiti and also the ones who said the Whites want money, power etc. How does this ultimate model of reconciliation go to work in such a setting, where injustice is not just an event in the past but an on-going reality. Can people reconcile when and where injustice continues to occur?
Report of Joseph sharing at the First Presbyterian Church Sandpoint, Idaho Sunday November 11 by Denise Williamson.
The Sunday School group that hosted Joseph to hear him speak on reconciliation meets around a table in the “fireplace room.”
The class started with question asked by Pastor Andy Kennaly about the violence reported on in the US national news concerning the school kidnapping, leading the way for Joseph to begin with a short summary of colonial control and divisions, of which none in Cameroon and in Africa had any say. The group seemed to readily understand that the “legacy” of European power brokering African land and resources is the foundation of such conflicts within the nation today.
The group also was engaged in Joseph’ sharing of how negativity and low view of self can be the product of years of being put down either as an individual or a group, and that the rethinking that God led him through is also applicable to any individual or group with such traumas in the past.
The group seemed to understand the contrast of how Joseph saw religion in the past compared to what the freedom of Christ’s way of reconciliation brings. The story of the lion cub growing into the Lion modeled the power of storytelling to get at deep truths, as it became the springboard for discussion: fear is often the reaction of the group in power when others rise to take their God-given place. What does fear lead to in society? —“iron bars” and imposed barriers often the reaction of people in power seeing the possibility that they may lose control. Also what unique role is played by those who are willing to submit to God’s rightful authority, then they are willing to come to embrace equality for all s God’s design. But what would/will be the price of such reparation, once this change and shifting of power and authority takes place. The people seemed so open to the idea that all people are designed by God with specific purposes and that all need space to participate equally. But “As long as we are in fear,” someone said, “We won’t want to see the Lion free.”
The church is building a peace garden and has taken down the fencing between its property and the neighborhood, as a symbol and a reality that they want to provide a more welcoming place. There is a need for reconciliation with our neighbors begins with the need to love ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us. One person said that the more time they spend with understand their own healthy relationship with the divine the less energy there is to be negative to others. One person asked if the issue of segregation is different in the eastern south of the nation than in northern Idaho, to which Joseph replied that he can’t address that as specifically as individuals who are living in any area, but that he knows that 400 years of injustice cannot be turned around in a just a few hours at discussion tables. Instead, for healing to come there is a need for people to come and give their all in their lifetime for our future generations.
(Photo courtesy First Presbyterian Church Sandpoint, Idaho)
This is the second time that Joseph has been sharing in Sandpoint ID area, and he has invitation to return again.