We’re thinking about having a baby. We’re not nursery-painting or buying monogrammed burp cloths or anything. We did rescue a friendly, abandoned puppy as a first step in practicing consistent responsibility.

We’re thinking about having a baby. We’re not nursery-painting or buying monogrammed burp cloths or anything. We did rescue a friendly, abandoned puppy as a first step in practicing consistent responsibility.

Thinking about having a baby made us all reflective and philosophical about the world in which we would bring the baby. Will our baby thrive where we are? What are the ideal surroundings for raising our boy or girl? How can we make sure our child grows up to be a multi-lingual, multi-millionaire, model/singer/astrophysicist/Nobel prize/Grammy winner who loves the Lord and cares for us in our old age?

We started thinking about how the community would treat our baby, who would be biracial.

Then we grew wistful and sad and just started to talk about what to have for dinner, because we wondered where we belonged in this world.

When I came to Dallas from New York City, I went looking for a church, and quickly realized that I would have to choose whether I’d go to a predominantly white church or a predominantly black church.  My heart aches when I think about how downright congenial and squeaky-clean segregation can appear at times in our evangelical communities, whether inside or outside of church.

Having to choose which part of me (skin or soul) should be reflected in the church that I attended just seemed to sell everyone short.

To add insult to injury, I have also been to churches with brothers and sisters who have given me such a cold reception because of the color of my skin that I doubt I’d ever visit again. At times, I have seen more loving unity in my "heathen" hometown than in the buckle of the Bible belt.

John 17:20-23 says:[bible]John 17:20-23[/bible]

I love to reflect on the concept of Jesus praying that prayer not only for the disciples that were present with him, but also for believers today. Our oneness bears witness to the truth that Jesus was sent by the Father. Our unity is a real-life example that God loves us. We make the gospel illegitimate when we choose comfort over the practicing the presence of the entire spectrum of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dallas has a rich heritage of Christian education and ethics, megachurches and megaministries, but is the Christian community of Dallas one?

Can I raise my baby here?

By God’s unifying power, and the love of our community, yes.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life
With each other

One life
But were not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other



(Italicized lyrics from U2’s One)

Sharifa Stevens

Sharifa Stevens is a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised child of the King, born to Jamaican immigrants, and currently living in Dallas. Sharifa's been singing since she was born. Her passion is to serve God's kingdom by leading His people in worship through music, speaking and writing, and relationships with people. Her heart is also unity, inspired by John. Sharifa hates exercise but likes Chipotle, bagels with a schmeer and lox, salmon sushi, chicken tikka, curried goat (yeah, it's good) with rice and peas, and chocolate lava cakes. She's been happily married to Jonathan since 2006...and he buys her Chipotle.


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    Brittany Burnette

    Calling out the Church … Thank You!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. You asked great questions, Sharifa. And at the end of the day, the words of Christ remain: "The glory you gave to me, I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one – I in them and you in me

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      Sharifa Stevens

      How Tragic? Very. But…

      But – there's hope. We have the Holy Spirit.

      I don't think this issue is that different than Gwynne's on music – churches tend toward sameness, because it's so messy and difficult to do something different. It was Peter's problem in the book of Acts, it was exhorted and expounded upon by Paul in Galatians. Grace through faith in Jesus Christ is soooo scandalous, that believers were trying (and continue to try) to put velvet ropes up and uphold social criteria to keep the wrong people out and the "right" people in.

      The Holy Spirit is our hope and teacher, and I trust that the Spirit will balance this tragedy out, person by person; church by church.

      And praise be to God, who gives grace to the humble and exalts them in His time. Every Christian doesn't behave like a bouncer, and every church is not a social club. Happily, there are people who reflect the image of Christ in every-day righteousness, with their words, deeds, whom they invite to their houses, and

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    Heather A. Goodman

    You quoted two of my

    You quoted two of my favorite things: the John 17 passage and U2. (This post also brings to mind another U2 line: I can’t live, with or without you [thinking of the church].)

    I’m learning that I’ll never find the ideal. There will never be the place I’d want to raise my kids. And I hate that. I hate that sometimes the Church hurts more than it heals. That’s been one of my fears in having kids. On the other hand, with a vision of the future resurrection, I’m always to work toward the ideal, which means to be loving, life-giving (rather than life-taking or life-sucking), beauty-creating, peace-making, sacrificing, healing and joyful. And maybe that’s part of having kids. Teaching them to be these things (and, if I’m honest, probably learning how to be those things through them).

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      Sharifa Stevens


      …what you’ve brought up is one of the things I am so scared and humbled to think about in terms of child-rearing.

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    whom shall I fear?
    you’ve hit my keenest fear – I don’t trust myself to raise kids, and I don’t trust the environment in which I would have to raise them. I cower to this fear.

    I’ve been pushed to re-think this. if I’m going to fear, why not fear the Lord, instead? instead of focusing on my mistrust, why not thrust my trust into His hands? and, what is the “purpose” for having kids? there are many reasons, but surely one of them is to strengthen the Kingdom (hopefully). child-rearing is missional.

    in that vein, our church (local and universal) desperately needs you and Jonathan, and your children. Skillman would be so much less in your absence.

    easier said than done. NB – I still don’t have any kids. 🙂

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    Beautiful thoughts – we were so sad when we started looking for a “new” church to attend around here, because we so want to be part of a community of believers that reflects what it’s going to look like around the throne… But there’s none to be found, that we saw, anyway. Glad to know there’s a day coming when that will be reality, but I sure wish we could see more of it this side of eternity… (You absolutely can raise that baby here, btw, cause he/she/they are going to have an auntie who will club anybody who dares breathe anything but highest compliment about his/her/their precious little self(ves). )

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    Angela Seagler

    It sure is good to

    It sure is good to hear your real voice and heart! Thank you for daring to tell the truth. Keep it up. We all need to hear the inner cry of one another. We will all heal better for it. Blessings on your jouney and baby making…beautiful and fully alive they will be in the unified, brave, and loving arms of mom and dad. Love you!

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    selah. Father, help us persevere in doing good, persevere in unity of purpose so our impact finishes Your call and proclaims Your otherness, Your kingdomness. these eden leftovers stink. i want to run from the stench; but help me stay the course until i am, we are clean, together. use SC, use Sharifa, use B, use Cheryl, use Angel, use Margaret, use Leslie, use Michelle, use me.

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    Gail Seidel

    You’ve got it!
    Sharifa, your honesty draws me to your heart for REAL community. I would love to be your neighbor so I could love on your baby!