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The title “New Mexico Church Spreads Gospel Through Radio” (Apr. 2020) could have been written in the 1950s, when the church in Farmington, N. Mex., was the Christian Reformed Mission. At that time Rev. Herman Schripsema was the missionary, and he realized that the Navajo people were avid radio listeners. With the help and advice of his assistant, Chee Anderson, a weekly program was produced called “Navajo Question Time.” ... Each week one question was selected in advance to be answered in the Navajo language. ... The tapes were delivered weekly to KIUP in Durango, Colo., the only station in the area that would broadcast a half-hour religious program in the Navajo language. ... Rev. Schripsema always credited the radio programs as important to the growth of the Farmington mission, which was organized as a church in 1962. At that time the morning worship service was led entirely by Navajo people in their own language.
Ellen Joy Schripsema Sharpe // Anchorage, Alaska
The article “Rewriting Belonging” from the June Banner caught my attention. The author deftly presents a biblical argument for our churches to welcome our diverse neighbors and communities with “the Spirit of wide embrace,” God’s Spirit. For churches that are steeped in the tradition of a high tolerance for the status quo, this is a tall order. Our natural tendency is to offer the ‘wide embrace’ to people in our comfort zone, people who are just like us. As the author observes, “Jesus’ way demanded ... setting aside discrimination and offering a wholehearted welcome to diverse people.” May the Spirit of God search our hearts to seriously consider: are all welcome in this place?
Ron Sato // Cypress, Calif.
Speaking Against Racism
Since Shiao Chong’s first Banner article up through his current editorials I’ve been keen on his wisdom and clarity of expression. That’s why I was surprised and a bit disappointed at his seemingly trivializing approach in his July/August editorial “Speak Out Against Racism.” ... The truth that “all lives matter” is a biblical maxim. Martin Luther King used the concept to point out that racism wasn’t only a Black justice matter. While I understand not wanting to sidetrack the issue of equality and justice for the Black community with the trite excuse “but all lives matter,” there is a good reason that many who deeply care about Black lives choose not to join the chant “Black lives matter.”
Jeff Stam // Hudsonville, Mich.
Your editorial regarding your experience with racism in the July/August edition was personal, poignant, powerful. Thank you for it. … As a lifelong educator, one of the things I’ve learned about lessons is that no matter how often they are taught to the same audience there are always some who fail to learn them. These failures have many reasons: beyond one’s ability/capacity, unwillingness, distractedness, and defiance are among them. An educator realizes that attempting to reteach the lesson too many times ultimately brings diminished results. This brings a question: When will we know when it’s time to stop teaching the lesson and address moving on? Are we there? ... God, why must we wait so long? Historically, the church played a prominent role in the eradication of slavery. Can it bring peace to troubled lands now?
Jim Krosschell // Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thank you much, Chong, for this editorial. Sadly, it does not surprise me that your passion, patience, and boldness in writing what you knew would engender not merely detractions, but, in fact, cavils and outright denials of your points. I applaud your forthrightness, your clarity in expressing not merely your personal experiences of having been a victim of racism and thoughts about how your own attempts at assimilation amount to a significant denial of your heritage and a diminishment of other persons of different colors and backgrounds. Do please continue to affirm and assert your heritage without apology—as I take for granted a part of my privilege, but am learning to tone down.
James Dekker // St. Catharines, Ont.
I would like to congratulate you on the excellent quality of the July/August magazine. Starting from the “Breaking Barriers” ad with the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder note by Enrico Di Giandomenico, the piece on racism by Shiao Chong, the anti-Semitism article by Rev. Doug Bratt, and the crowning gem, “A Death without a Funeral,” by Gayla Postma. The magazine had no empty/nothing pages. Just what we need when we are confined home and craving good Christian reading.
M. Emma Anderson // Prospect Park, N.J.