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I AM REDREV

living life trans-culturally

Welcome to I AM RED REV, a site that explores the life and reconciliation ministry of Adam "A.T.". Thomason with Jesus' brand of love as its foundation.

SEVEN REFLECTIONS FROM RECENT TRAVELS

 

How does a boy from the neighborhoods of Detroit end up as a man in the deserts of the Middle East with close friends?

 

Who knew in 2002 that a crew in Denton comprised of men with different wounds and narratives would be the next generation of leaders globally? Men wanting to find their eternal compass in life through a discipleship program would be the door to forging long friendships more than 10 years later. Men Like Dhati Lewis, Tom Nelson, Calvin Clarke, James Roberson, Brent Bowen, James White and others who opened up their lives to many confused boys with stubble looking for eternal direction to become kingdom men.  These ordinary men who the world views as artists, stars, CEOs, speakers with platforms, but men––Bj Thompson, Tedashii Anderson, Amisho Lewis, Lecrae Moore, Ben Washer, Keenan, John O, William Barefield, myself and others––who refuse to wave the white flag to the world’s cheap trophy. These men are not perfect, but are men who still fight to commune around the manliest thing––be it in Denton, Atlanta, Memphis, the Middle East––Jesus.

In returning from my time in the Middle East, I wanted to share seven reflections that I hope add some sense of eternal sobriety and kindling to the embers of one's soul.

 
First Reflection
: The American narrative is not the only narrative. This may seem obvious but is it? Out of the 196 countries that exist, I have had the privilege of traveling to 15 of them. Each time I travel outside the American context, it allows the truth of our narrative and the beauty of the world, people, stories and other narratives––which goes back to God good and bad––to be seen for what it is. The American narrative is 1 out 196 countries; which is less than one percent, however without travel you will buy into, good and bad, what those in America, those in your subculture say, to be taken as objective truth applied to all around the globe. America sells the dream that you can have a global perspective of 196 countries all from the comfort of your home through Google. Without experiencing other narratives, you will blanket the one before you as being objective reality. Our message of hope and love is one that includes the narratives of 196 countries. So the rarity, resources––Americans have them but waste it on entertainment––and freedoms we have in America allow us to experiences more than ours, we may not see all 196, but 15, 5, 3 is best compared to one.

Second Reflection: People around the world are in slavery, forced against their will, held hostage with no hope of justice. The same people are violated day in and day out as slaves, and those with resources are lulled into thinking their existence of freedom and democratic justice rings true for all. There is so much more work to do for the many voiceless.

Third Reflection: Americans have no clue what persecution is. Persecution has been redefined as what people say about your character, really your ego. Persecution here is more giving an answer to social media trolls. Persecution around the globe has physical implications as it pertains to finances, family, safety, pain and in most cases life itself. The circle I'm placed in experiences many people who type unfavorable judgments about them through social media outlets, but typing is the only thing we have to deal with. We spend too much time defending the ego of who we are to swine who like to wrestle in the mud because we think the gold in their opinionated snouts is valuable. A pastor-mentor encouraged me––upon stateside arrival, "if you wrestle in the mud with a pig for the gold in its snout, you are only going to get dirty and make it smile; pigs like the mud and love to see you in it" don't play in unnecessary mud.

 
Fourth Reflection
: The American church needs new wineskins of which to pour the new wine of Jesus' brand of love––which is investigative––into. Theology can be a help and a hindrance. Help as it provides you lenses of which to see God, the virtues of him and the ills of life clearer, however, it can be a hindrance because it creates lines and boxes that God and his followers were never meant to fit in only. If Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg in 1517, then it has been long overdue for our generation to nail some to the door of the American church in 2015. There are followers of Jesus' brand of love that does not fit into the old wineskin approach to life seen in American history. If you put new wine into old wineskins, the wineskins will burst and the new wine is ruined.

Our sermons and Christianity are domesticating men and women to boredom by the thousands. The zenith of our discipleship has become Sunday mornings, 200k building funds for unneeded window renovations, handing out flyers, talking theology in groups, sports games, holy sex, salary, no porn, no masturbation, holy relaxation, and stewardship of finances for freedoms to enjoy pleasures. We have a ‘front porch Christianity’ while 99.813% of the world is a harvest waiting to be brought in, with few workers, "new wine worker." I am not talking about a declaration for a select few, but the reality of all who follow Jesus' brand of love.  To quote a friend, “we have been duped into playing another game, calling it the Kingdom, and wondering why we aren’t seeing the power of God change the world through us”.


Fifth Reflection: I am part of a rare story, race of people, and cultural existence that has weight globally. Being Black American or African American has been a topic of shame for some, confusion for many, yet delight for others. I have heard it said that “blacks in America are one of few people groups who don’t know their heritage and are absent of the ability to trace who they are." I and many of my friends believe this, as we hound the internet, Google search engines, DNA testing sites, trying to find “who we are" with hopes to uncover this missing link to our state of being. Truth is, the missing link has been staring back at us daily in the mirror; sure most blacks have the surname of a person that goes back to a slave master––in most cases it has a history of degradation and shame to it, but we are free. Our heritage as a people is new, and it starts with freedom on the American soil.

When I traveled recently and in the past, the world does not see “Thomason, the black man from slave ownership,” they see a rare breed of person who has ascended a very racist and bigoted society. They see a rare breed of person who has learned intelligently at different levels history as it should be––not as it was told to him––to set himself and others free with an oppressed existence. They see a sense of hope to ethnicities not of a fair-skinned hue, and some gender, across the globe, whose heritage is not lost, but found in the masterpiece of God's story. They see a God that birthed him and others under the thumb of America but set them free to understand suffrage and liberation from this thumb. They see a dark man and others, with a current story and heritage that others need to be inspired by. The black American does not need to travel to Africa, get Kenté cloth, wear a “kufee”, and grow locks to find themselves. The black man needs to look present at the heritage that God has freed them to be about, a heritage of diversity, traveling to anywhere without hindrance, education for justice, struggling, soul celebration, social change and love by serving others. The ability to navigate majority culture and its language while maintaining an appreciation for one's subcultural beauties right from American soil and ascend is foreign––but it is our heritage. Dark skin in America may have one connotation or many, but a dark skinned, educated American globally, is the rarest of realities and source of hope and liberation to thousands.

 

Sixth Reflection: Black lives matter, but there are many lives globally who should matter specifically to the African American as well––who gets being considered less than. Black lives matter to the American story, but they are one of the most potent weapons globally that blacks will not realize if they stay insulated within the American narrative, not seeing their strength and usage globally. The reality of black lives mattering exists so we can speak globally with our unique power and insight to many lives that matter as well––those oppressed because of ethnicity, dispersion, class, from Syrian refugees to the Indian of the lower cast system.

Seventh Reflection: Jesus is the only one that is truly famous and his brand of love is the only one that can change the world.  The world has never seen a person change and challenge the world with his teachings and brand of love like Jesus. Fame to Americans is more on what you have done in a lifetime and how they remember you annually. No one in the American music story will ever top the awards, accolades, and iconic status of a Michael Jackson. However, Michael Jackson in his talent is forgotten, not even ten years later. True fame is remembered moment by moment. 

Jesus walked and existed more than 2000 years ago. Jesus was lowly in stature, yet overwhelming in his treatment of people in love and command of officials holding higher rank than him. Jesus currently sits on the tongues of humankind across the globe––good and bad, he is the only name you can bring up and people know him, have a perspective of him and long to figure him and his dismantling love out over 196 of these countries.

 

In closing, the reality is this, no man makes it alone. The mentors you have and friendships you surround yourself with will be indicative of the places you go, values you hide in your heart and make manifest. How did a boy from Detroit find himself as a man in the Middle East? He didn’t, God placed him there by surrounding him with kindred relationships through people, bonds that are more than a means to an end, but the end itself, bonds that value the other's God given story and narrative beyond their own.

 

 

 

  Download the sample here  RED REV study (a study on race relations)

 

Download the sample here 

RED REV study (a study on race relations)

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Designed by the I AM REDREV team. Background images by Kari Crowe