Introducing the African American Voices of Missio Alliance

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At the end of last year, I announced that I would be joining the writing team of Missio Alliance. Missio Alliance is a network of people who are passionate about the Northern American church, evangelicalism, and engaging the cultural challenges of our day. One thing I love about Missio Alliance is their intentionality in building a diverse learning environment and leadership community. Last month, I introduced my friend, Carolyn Custis James, and Dr. MaryKate Morse as leading women voices of Missio Alliance. Today, I have the privilege of introducing leading African American male voices within Missio Alliance.


Efrem Smith
Efrem Smith

Meet Efrem Smith. Efrem is the President and CEO of World Impact, a Christian missions organization committed to facilitating urban church planting movements through evangelism, discipleship, and the empowerment of the unreached urban poor. You can read more about his passion for the African American church and multi-ethnic church planting here. He is the author of The Post-Black and Post-White Church and Jump into a Life of Further and Higher. I also recommend reading one of his recent blogs, “#BlackLivesMatter and Evangelicalism.

I am so honored that Efrem Smith has endorsed and written the forward for my upcoming book, “Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship.” I am also honored to be a part of the writing team and friends of Missio Alliance with him.


Dennis R. Edwards
Dr. Dennis R. Edwards

Next up is Dr. Dennis R. Edwards. I have not personally had the opportunity to meet Dr. Edwards, but he is the senior pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis and I look forward to hearing and learning from him. You can read about his passion and concerns for the church here. His concerns about power, violence, and lack of interest in biblical engagement are of particular interests to me. His hope is that “Christians will continue to be enthusiastic about engaging Scripture and also to let Scripture inform us regarding issues of power and privilege.” I look forward to listening to some of his sermons and drawing from his as well.


The co-founder of Missio Alliance, JR Rozko, recently posted on his Facebook page, “I’ve learned that one of the most crucial dimensions to evaluating which leaders are worth following is taking a good hard look at the wells they draw from for their own intellectual formation and who they look to as heroes and exemplars.” I could not agree more, so I close with the question:


Who are two leaders that you learn from and why?


Blessings, Natasha




Dear White Brothers & Sisters: Why #BlackLivesMatter Must Matter to You

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On Tuesday, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who choked an unarmed African American male, Eric Garner, to death in July. Garner was being arrested for selling cigarettes and not paying taxes. After being wrestled to the ground by several police using an unauthorized technique, Mr. Garner’s final words were, “I can’t breathe.” The cops stood around and waited as he died. This troubling scene was recorded on video.

Just last week, a Cleveland police officer fatally shot a 12-year old African American boy, Tamir Rice, dead within a matter of seconds of arriving on the scene. Tamir was playing alone with a pellet gun. That killing was also recorded on video. The deaths of these two are now part of a growing list of police brutality against African American males which has resulted in outrage all across America.

In order to process, dialogue, and document history, advocacy, and responses to these and other important issues, many people have turned to the social media platform provided by Twitter. Twitter users employ hashtags (#) so that other users can see all the tweets related to a certain topic. In response to these incidents and more, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has become popular on Twitter, and it promises to be a critical tool for continuous dialogue in the future.

After the grand jury decision in Ferguson, I joined a Twitter Teach-In hosted by #Evangelicals4Justice (@Evangelicals4J). As a member of this diverse group of evangelicals, I responded to the question, “Why is it necessary to declare #BlackLivesMatter?” The theological answers were clear: Inside and outside of the womb, God cares about the senseless loss of a life (Gen 9:6); Because God demands an account for the loss of life, we must demand an answer as well (Gen 9:6); and because Black people are humans who are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:37).

During this Twitter exchange, I received a response from a white male evangelical asking, “Does that mean that other lives don’t matter? I’m tired of being discriminated against 4 being a white man.”

Continue reading on Christianity Today.