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Whether you are feeling hopeful or struggling to find hope right now, pull up a chair for this conversation. Join the Be the Bridge Executive Team as they talk about the impact of a yes, what true peace looks like, and how our stories are connected. Latasha Morrison, Tange Johnson, and Micah Smith discuss how God can use us to impact others and how we can cling to hope even in the midst of things falling apart. They lean into lament and remind us that hope is not wishful thinking or optimism. This episode will help the Be the Bridge community prepare our hearts and minds for whatever is to come this year.

Join in the conversation on our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts on this episode! 

Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts with Integrated Entertainment Studios
Assistant Producer & Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Quotes:

“We have to have hope in this work that we do to persevere.” -Latasha Morrison

“There are people out there learning how to think as bridge builders, learning how to engage as bridge builders. We’re seeing people who are transforming into these cross racial communities that live differently and act more justly because of it. And that’s something that really gives me hope out of the work of Be the Bridge.” -Micah Smith

“We may not know the ways that God is working. We may not always know the people whose lives we’re touching. But it’s happening. I try to stay in a perpetual state of awe of God, because that keeps me in a place of hope for our future and my now.” -Tange Johnson

“Be around people that can empower you, so that you in turn can empower other people that need some help and hope in times of uncertainty.” -Latasha Morrison

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Resources Mentioned:
Maverick City Music audio clip
Be the Bridge book by Latasha Morrison
Be the Bridge groups
Born a Crime book by Trevor Noah
Be the Bridge Recommended Resources
Be the Bridge Academy
Be the Bridge Youth and University
Pre-order Brown Faces, White Spaces book by Latasha Morrison

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Connect with Latasha Morrison:
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Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

Audio Clip
[music playing] My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Narrator
You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator
Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison
[intro] …but I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison
Well, today, Be the Bridge community, we have a special treat. It is now 2024. And we have some special guests from the Be the Bridge community that I want to introduce you to. And we’re going to talk to you kind of like creating a pathway of hope this year. There’s so much that is happening right now in our world, in our lives personally. So even as the stuff that’s happening in the world, just know that people are dealing with just as much in their personal lives, in their community, and within their families. And so I have the Chief Operating Officer of Be the Bridge that’s on with us today, Mr. Micah Smith. Say hello.

Micah Smith
Hi, nice to be here with you.

Latasha Morrison
And, I have the CTO, Chief Transformation Officer, here with us today. And so we’re introducing you to her probably for the first time. Her name is Tange Johnson. Say hello.

Tange Johnson
Hello, everyone.

Latasha Morrison
Listen. So we are here just to kind of give some guidance for this 2024 year. We just ended a campaign and it was powerful. It was successful. It was called Empowered by Hope. Because we have to have hope in this work that we do to persevere. Without hope, listen, let me tell you, I know a lot…and this is not, I’m not talking about optimism. That’s emptiness. I’m talking about where our hope comes from, our faith in Jesus. Like that is what keeps us going, because of the promises of God that keeps us going in this work. And the work we do ultimately is the work of hope. The work of a Be the Bridge is that work of hope with anticipation, waiting, we are pouring into communities; we are equipping communities, inspiring communities, partnering with communities. And how do we see hope at work? How do you see the hope in the work of Be the Bridge? You guys have a very different view from some of the people that are listening who are in the trenches. I was just talking with someone and they’re a speaker. They were like, “Be the Bridge is everywhere.” You know, and I’m thinking like, “Okay, is he talking about the book? Yeah, the book needs to be everywhere! What is he talking about?” But he was talking about the people. He was talking about the work that the people are doing, the people who are listening to this podcast, the people who are in their communities, in their churches, you know, in their organizations that are leading in this work. They’re taking the content that we are creating, and they are living it out. And they are helping with the formation of other people to do this good work, this whole work, this work of restoration, this work of redemption, this work that can reconcile. That is what’s happening. And so he was just saying that he was in this rural part of the state. And he says, “No matter where I am, and when I start talking about this, someone comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, I’m a part of the Be the Bridge community.'” And he’s just like, “What in the world? This organization is everywhere.” And that just brought a smile to my face, because we may never know that person that’s in Bristol, Tennessee or that person that’s in Montana or that person is doing this work in Idaho or Iowa. We do know we have touch points in every state, but we don’t know the names. We don’t know the churches, we don’t know all of these things. Now, we’re hoping to improve that as it relates to our data. But there are people that are doing this work that have read the book, that are doing the guide and the discussion cards, all these things, and they have been on ramped through Be the Bridge to even go deeper into other studies and being activated within their community. And that right there, I was like, that is hopeful. You know? It’s like there’s a remnant that’s out there, that despite what they’re seeing, what they’re hearing, they are holding to this message of hope; they are holding to this truth of the all of us have the right to flourish; they are holding to making things right. You know? So what are, how do you see hope at work in Be the Bridge, Micah? How do you see hope at work at Be the Bridge?

Micah Smith
Yes, thank you. And thank you also for referencing collecting data, because always find hope in that with my role. So, (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
Spoken by the operations person.

Micah Smith
Yes, exactly. But beyond that, there’s so much more. And I actually was thinking about an event we held in the fall, a Be the Bridge LIVE event in Dayton, Ohio. And I was watching that virtually. And I was thinking afterwards as I was kind of processing it. And I was like, “You know, what I’m watching isn’t one of these big flashy events, where we’re going to go out and do something in this one moment. It was more along the lines of people sharing where they are on this larger journey.” And some of those people were involved in other organizations that overlap with us and walk alongside us. But a lot of those people were part of a local Be the Bridge group. And you can see how they were sharing where they were on their journey of growth as they’re going through this process of forming community and forming cross racial community. And so it was, it was like, it was more of a be something event than do something event. And so we’re seeing these people who are like becoming bridge builders, who are being bridge builders. And that’s something I’ve always really just loved about the organization. It’s not a, we’re going to go and we’re going to do something, it’s that there are people out there learning how to think as bridge builders, learning how to engage as bridge builders. And so we’re seeing people who are transforming into these cross racial communities that live differently and act more justly because of it. And that’s something that really gives me hope out of the work of Be the Bridge. There’s times when people are engaged in action, and there’s times when things are hard and people are just uninterested and apathetic out there in the world. But Be the Bridge is about living a kingdom justice lifestyle, whatever is happening around us. And so just seeing events like that, that we’re doing, seeing people utilizing the resources to be this, is just a consistency of growth. I mean, it’s an up and down process for everybody, but overall, you see people who are just really engaged in trying to live differently and how that changes things. And that was my experience, too. I mean, I came up through Be the Bridge, using Be the Bridge resources. And it’s not an all or nothing, it’s a journey. But seeing people who just consistently stick on that journey and who are living it out. And that event was about like, “Hey, here we are. Here’s the spot we are in this bigger process of what we’re trying to become and you start to see how it’s changing things around them.” That’s just something that really gives me hope in the work that we’re doing here as an organization.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. And Tange, this is, you’re not even six months into this.

Tange Johnson
Right.

Latasha Morrison
At the time that this plays you will be six months into it. And I know you were, like so many others introduced to Be the Bridge through an event, a local event that we had. What do you see hope in, in the work of Be the Bridge?

Tange Johnson
Thank you for asking.

Latasha Morrison
You’re welcome. (laughter)

Tange Johnson
The thing that stuck out to me the most when you were explaining the experience that the person you were speaking with had in Tennessee, it was just the intentionality of God, how intentional he is and how he connects the dots of our lives. And you referenced my initial meeting with Be the Bridge, and that was in 2019. I had no idea that I would be in this space. I’m not gonna say it, Micah. I was gonna say, I’m not going to give you the details on that. (laughter) Well, I will say that I had no idea that I would be in this space. I actually was a little resistant to being a bridge builder because of my personal pains. My personal, I wouldn’t say trauma, but just the concerns I had with where the church was going and how the disconnect, the discord that existed. And I was kind of, I had a bad attitude about it. But to go back to how intentional God is, he introduced me to Be the Bridge then and brought me here now. And there was no denying that it was God. So when I think about that person, that speaker who saw that lady at that meeting, it just let me know that we may not know the ways that God is working. We may not always know the people whose lives we’re touching. But it’s happening. Now he gives us glimpses sometimes with that encounter, and that subsequent exchange with you and that that speaker, however, that’s not always the case. So when I see that, it lets me know the power of, it gives me hope that there’s power in our yes, that when we are obedient to what God has called us to do, especially in this difficult work. He responds to our obedience with doing things that blow our minds. And I tried to stay in a perpetual state of awe, in awe of God, because that keeps me in a place of hope for our future and my now.

Micah Smith
That’s good.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. You know, as I was just reminiscing about that, that’s so good. When we said that our yeses are connected to so many different people.

Tange Johnson
Yeah.

Latasha Morrison
And I was just speaking with someone. And he was like, “You know, and just think about where you were cultivated where you grew.” You know, I think about coming to faith when I was in college, and there was this church called Koinonia Christian Center that I was planted in in North Carolina, in college. And Pastor Rosie O’neal. I was remembering this because I was just yesterday, I was looking through Instagram and an actual video of her in the church came up, you know, she’s, you know, doing all kinds of amazing things. Still an amazing woman. I remembered her story of adoption. She was adopted by her parents from Germany. She lived in Germany, and now she’s reconnected with her biological sister and her nephew, and they were in Disney World. And she was, you know, talking about that. And that was like, wow, that’s a full circle moment. I remember her talking about that years ago, when I was, you know, in school and to see where that is now. And then I was thinking today like her yes, you know, to becoming a pastor, starting that church where she has helped disciple so many college students. And I think about a lot of my friends who are, you know, still walking with Christ now where we were, you know, discipled in that church and how her yes has now become our yes. And then our yes has become someone else’s yes. And I’m just thinking about the impact of that. And sometimes you don’t take the time to think about that. And that is hope. And we are here because of 12 yeses. We’re a part of a remnant. Not everyone said yes to Jesus. Not everyone chose to follow Jesus. Not everyone, you know, chose to become a part of The Way. But some did. And like to see now this trickle down effect, you know, that’s happening, that is the hope, where you know everyone is not going to get it. There are some people that are going to refuse it, there’s some people that are going to reject this work. But their story won’t be that, “I never knew.” You know? Their story would be, “I refused to listen.” That’s a whole. That’s a whole nother level of conviction. Like, I don’t want that story. (laughter) I don’t want that story. Yeah, or either, or either, “You know what, my ancestors rejected it, and I’m just gonna carry on the tradition of continuing to reject.” That is like, that is some heaviness. Now, we know that this year as we’re going into it, there’s going to be a lot of tension. There are going to be people that lose their way. There are going to like, you know, even some of this, what we’re seeing is, it’s like we see two different crops of Christianity where one bears fruit and the other one is not bearing fruit that resembles Christ. We see this conflict. We want to be truth tellers. And we want to be people of peace. How do we faithfully hold this together? How do we tell the truth, but also be a person of of peace, Micah?

Micah Smith
Okay. Instantly, the first thing I thought of on this is my go to quote. I have it in my office here. And it’s from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who says, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It’s the presence of justice.” And so it makes me ask, how do we define justice? Because justice is the glue, I think that holds these two things together here.

Latasha Morrison
Yes.

Micah Smith
And so for me, the most simple way that I can think to define justice is right relationship. Right relationship between people and within systems. And right relationship to me as a Christian is based on this foundational principle that every person is loved and valued by God. And so when I look at justice in this way, we aren’t asking, “How do I stay comfortable, no matter what is going on around me?” I think that’s what a lot of people think of when they think of peace, is this concept of comfort. “So how am I gonna stay comfortable?” That causes us to deny truth telling. We have to stay in the lies in order to remain comfortable a lot of times, because we do not live within justice in the society around us, and we’re looking at the broader world or the nation or communities. And so what instead we have to do is be honest, and say, “How do I see where the relationships are broken, and systems and people are operating out of that brokenness?” That requires truth telling. And also, I have to ask, “What privileges and what access and what influences and what gifts and what skills do I have as a person that can be utilized to restore right relationships?” That’s some internal truth telling that I have to engage in. And out of all that, then I can work to engage in the work of justice, of restoring right relationship in which people are seen and valued. And so that brings us toward a true peace that comes from when we’re just living in a justice that’s reflective of Kingdom justice, and not this false version of justice that’s just about personal comfort, even when we’re, that allows us to be willing to marginalize and devalue other people around us. So I guess to sum all that up, justice is what holds this together and the right concept of what that means, what peace is, and defining those terms.

Latasha Morrison
I like what you said, you know, peace does not come without tension. And I’m so grateful for this conversation, because so many people when they want peace they want to ignore. And they’re really saying they want comfort. And they want to turn away and they want to look away. And there’s a lot of things now happening in our society where we can’t turn away from, we can’t look away from it and feeling that it’s going to go away. Some of these things unless we face it, unless we are seeking justice, we’re rendering justice, there will be no peace. There is no, you know, peace without justice. Justice, you know, is the drum major for peace. And so we have to remember that in this work that we’re doing is that if we want true peace, that we have to seek justice. And a part of seeking justice is being a truth teller. And what we do within Be the Bridge is, you know, we’re truth tellers and we lead with grace. You know? But even in our grace, it’s uncomfortable. So there’s discomfort in truth telling all together. So when someone is giving you their truth it’s uncomfortable. And so we always tell people to prepare for the discomfort, because we’re gonna be uncomfortable together. Tange, you know, how do we faithfully hold these together? How do we faithfully hold, you know, being a truth teller and being also peacebuilders?

Tange Johnson
Well, I’m pretty visual. So as the both of you were speaking, I thought about peace. So for those of us who are Christ followers, we believe in Jesus. Jesus is peace personified. He’s the Prince of Peace. So he came. And I thought about what he did on the earth, what he accomplished. He was all about, and is all about justice, that to your point, is, in order to get to that point, a lot of truth needed to be told. Jesus wasn’t concerned with our feelings, or the feelings of the Pharisees and Sadducees or the people the day, he just wanted to make sure out of love that you were clear on who he was, who he is, how God feels about them, about people, and our response to that. I don’t want to oversimplify some of the agitation that exists when people are hearing truths and responding to it. But at the core, as Christians, who are Christ’s followers, we have to one, be honest with what is true in the Word of God. We are image bearers. If we are image bearers, and he created everyone equal, we cannot create our own doctrine around what, I mean because it, around what is said in the Bible because it suits us. And if so, if we do, what if we align ourselves with Scripture and are intentional about following what Christ says, as we say we are, then this shouldn’t be difficult, we should be able to hear the hard stuff. We should be able to, because of truth, turn our direction, the direction where we were going and walk in truth. So I I see that this year has the potential to be really difficult for many. Because so many things are happening. And because our emotions are involved, because they directly impact us, sometimes truth gets clouded with emotions. So our responsibility at Be the Bridge is to continue to one, make sure that we are aligned in truth, make sure that we are committed to project that truth out. And we continue to walk in that. Because yes, there will be agitation, but there will be no peace without justice. And God requires us to continue in that space. So that’s just my illustrative mind, the way that I think through that. It’s our sole responsibility to once we know truth, speak truth, because that’s the only way that we will accomplish what the Prince of Peace called us to accomplish after he left in the world, if we continue with justice and continue with truth.

Micah Smith
I was just thinking while you’re talking, even while Jesus was here, we were realizing that he was causing tension sometimes as he was working for peace in the way he spoke to like the Sadducees. and Pharisees. You know, those sorts of people. A lot of times he was engaging, he would walk into the tension, because you know, you have to go through that tension in order to move towards your true peace state. And so I just thought that was an interesting thing to bring up and wanted to piggyback off that real quick.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. So good. And you know, and I think, as we think of hope, you know, hope is also about perseverance. You know, hope looks at the past and it also remembers what God says. So our hope is, what is to come, you know, and also remembering the faithfulness of God. And so because God has a track record, you know, that also gives me hope. And so it’s in what God did, what God is doing, and knowing what God will do. And when we talk about this hope it’s not, you know, I want to make sure that we understand it’s not optimism or wishful thinking, as we talk about, we’re talking about some hard things. How do we hold on to hope when the world is falling apart? You know? When the literal world is falling apart, and maybe our communities, maybe our families, maybe marriages, maybe relationships, when all of that is falling apart how do we hang on to hope? So, you know, it’s like, it’s this confident expectation and trust in God’s promises and his faithfulness. And this goes beyond this wishful thinking. It is grounded in the character of God and in the certainty that He will fulfill his promises. And I think that is the thing when we’re thinking about, you know, because it’s easy for us to give up. I see people giving up, running out of gas. We also have to look at what is fueling you. What are you ingesting to fuel you? And so we have to make sure that we’re fueling ourselves with things that give hope. Hope givers. You know? The word of God is a part of that hope giver. There are people, there are sometimes people around you that will kind of take air out of you, you know, versus putting air in. They will extinguish you versus igniting you. So what are some things, you know, as people are listening, as we look into this year for our community, those who are listening, and sometimes you don’t have the words. You don’t have all the history. You don’t have all the knowledge. What are some things in our community that can allow them to hold on to hope this year as we engage in difficulties, in just hard life? You know? We don’t know what’s around the corner. But we know that there’s some preparation that needs to happen in our hearts, in our minds, there’s some conditioning that we need to do to prepare for the year to come. What are some of the things that you’re doing as far as that conditioning as you prepare for the new year, Micah?

Micah Smith
Well, yeah, this is a hard question. Because sometimes I find myself really struggling for hope in some of these seasons with all the stuff going on. It just seems like there’s always something new happening when I’m looking out at the world around me. That’s the real of it. I mean, it is hard. And I don’t know. It seems like right now, the world just seems like it’s losing its mind. But I don’t know that that’s necessarily new. It’s just now. So people have been dealing with this for a long time in different ways. And I think it kind of goes back to some things we’ve been talking about for me is that we can get really caught up in looking at what’s happening in all these places with wars that are going on and people being harmed in those. We see the natural disasters, we see the political climate, all of those things, we start looking at those we’re gonna get lost in despair. And so for me, it’s like kind of always come back to this mindset that the Kingdom already exists and already has this worked out. It is functioning correctly in God’s kingdom. And that’s the place that we’re citizens of. And I think our work is grounded in that. The work we do at Be the Bridge is grounded in that. We talk about it a lot. I mean, we talked about this on our prayer call recently. You know, it’s like constantly coming back to that idea of like staying centered in the right place. If I look around to the world, I’m not going to be a hopeful person. I’m not gonna have that hopeful expectation. But if I can stay focused on the kingdom, and that I already have a citizenship there. And I’m simply an ambassador in this broken world. Then that is a way that I can hold on to hope even as I’m walking in what’s happening around me. And we can shine a light in that. And I think, you know, Be the Bridge tries to do that so well. We’re not always perfect at it, as no one is. But I think that we have these communities and these people, and even internally within the organization, this constant coming back to the correct center, so that we can keep doing this hard work in hard times without burning out, because we’re able to function out of that, that kingdom focus that we have in that center. I mean, I know I’ll just call out Michele Evans right now. Because she’s always like making sure that we come back to it, we’re always going back to prayer. We’re always getting back to like, this is bigger God’s work. And I know, Tasha, you also do this. Because you’re like, “This isn’t my work. This is something that’s God given and we’re aligning with it.” And those things are helpful to me, to remember that, like, we’re trying to walk out what God has given us to do. We’re not just trying to do it on our own. We’re doing it as a community of bridge builders. And we’re doing it as a part of something that already is with the kingdom and God’s design.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. And I think that helps you take things not as personal when that work is rejected, or when people are in denial of it. Because when you look at this as God’s work, you know, that’s hope is like people are not necessarily rejecting you, they’re rejecting what God is doing. And, I know that helps me continue in the work. And it also helps give me compassion for people that are in that state and to exercise that humility that’s needed when people are in need of rescue and of a true relationship with their Savior. And so I think that is something that I always go back to. What about you, Tange, when we think about this work, how would you advise our community to hold on to hope this year?

Tange Johnson
Well first of all, Micah was over there preaching. Well I’m sitting here rocking back and forth. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
He just does it so like casually, but this man is a wealth of wisdom. And I love it. (laughter)

Tange Johnson
I almost got up and started running. (laughter) But that’s true. I say this often, that it’s important for us to build an altar to where God has delivered us from something, where we’ve overcome something, where God has been faithful. Remember in Bible days when God did something they built an altar in praise and worship to God for that. And we have to do that ourselves mentally, emotionally, and sometimes journaling these things. So we can go back to them when these times come. And say, “God, I remember you to be faithful in 2012 when you did this. And because you cannot change. You cannot. You’re immutable. That we trust you in the same way. And this does not take you by surprise.” Micah just like you said, this is not new. There’s nothing new under the sun. Evil has existed. Chaos has existed. Injustice has existed from the beginning of time. However, God is still God and he’s in the midst. And so I would say that it’s very easy for these life circumstances to throw you off balance and throw you off course emotionally. Me as well. And I know when I am that way, because I find myself in the fetal position on the couch, just like rocking, because it seems so heavy. But I have to, in those times, make myself stand up and raise my hands up. And sometimes it’s having someone else raise my hands up and remind me of who God is and what God has done. And that encourages, that gives you hope and strength, because you know that he hasn’t left you. And, and even, to your point, what we spoke about earlier. God gives us glimpses that he’s in control, when you get an email from someone saying, “You changed my life. The words that you said changed my life.” He’ll give you those little, like, I say, pushes to kind of keep moving, because he lets you know that in good or bad, all these things are working together for good of those who are called according to his purpose. This is his work. So he does it the way that he chooses to do it for ultimately for good. So those are things that encourage me.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. And so those are things that we hold on to. I like what you said about journaling and having an altar of remembrance. Because a lot of our faith is about remembrance. This season that we’re coming out of, you know, when we talk about Advent and Christmas and the season that we are preparing to go into as it relates to the Lent and resurrection, like these cycles of remembrance, where we’re recalling what God has done, you know, and allowing us to have faith in what God will do. Hope provides us with strength and assurance in challenging times. It reminds us that God is in control. Despite what things that like, God is in control. It may seem like chaos all around us. I have to remember that, because I’m recalling what God has done in other chaotic times. Even when circumstances seem uncertain, it offers us comfort, peace and a sense of purpose knowing that God’s plans are ultimately for our good. And those are the things that we must cling to during these seasons of difficulty. And we have to surround ourselves, I think the other thing is too, surrounding yourself with people who are going to also help encourage you in that. You know? There’s a pastor who’s like, you know, “You gotta fly with the eagles!” (laugher) But it’s not so much as that. But it’s like you can be around people that can empower you, so that you in turn can empower other people that need some help and hope in times of uncertainty. Where people that can’t pray, that you can pray. People who can’t lift up their arms, that you can lift up their arms, because of the work and the preparation that you’ve done. This is the type of hope that instills perseverance allowing us to press on with confidence knowing that God is faithful, and that his purposes are going to prevail. And that’s hard. Like, that’s hard to see. Sometimes in the midst of everything that’s happening, it’s hard to see and hard to understand. But I think about even decisions in my life. Be the Bridge was birthed out of uncertainty and discontent with what was happening in the world. It was birthed out of a catalytic moment of something tragic that happened to someone’s child. And that was the push that I needed to say yes, counting the cost that, you know, people don’t like to support this work, that people die from this type of work, truth telling. You know, all of these things. But that tragedy, there was hope in the midst of that tragedy that I would have never seen if it hadn’t been for that moment. And so who are some people that you are gleaning hope from during this time now or in times past?

Tange Johnson
Okay, I’m gonna…there’s a few people. First are my parents. Who, like I told you, I’m really into stories and how God, I mean, you know, brings people together in the work that they do. So they have always been a source of wisdom and guidance and stability for me. And they tell me the truth. And that has helped me to mature. And that’s them. But additionally, I see the young people. I’ve worked with young people in different capacities over the years. And I have nieces and nephews and mentees and even the young people who are associated with Be the Bridge. And I get to see how they are advocating not for them only for themselves, but are being sorry, we’re raising up leaders who are speaking against injustice and our truth telling in their respective spaces. And they are very excited to be a part of Be the Bridge initiatives. They see the importance and the value in that. And their experiences are different than ours and our experiences are different than our parents. But I see how that fight, that torch has been passed on from generation to generation. It evokes in me a sense of hope and also responsibility to make sure that they are equipped as possible to lead the charge for when we’re gone. And so, so yeah, those those people, they bring me a lot of hope.

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Latasha Morrison
A lot of people see youth as a threat. I heard someone mentioning, you know that, “All these young people are voting,” you know, like it’s a threat. And I’m like, “Wow, there’s hope in that.” Like the fact that we can look at young people wanting to engage in…politics are about people. So young people wanting to do the work of people, when we would look at exercising their civil rights, like if that could be looked at in a negative way there’s something distorted in that. I see it as something hopeful that there’s care and compassion, people are empowered when you see that. So when you bring up the youth, especially like the the youth of Be the Bridge like some of the things that we’ve heard, you know, we’re like the future is gonna be bright. But we want to make sure that we’re walking with them. Not just, you know, we talk about handing them the baton. But they don’t want, they’re like, “No we need you in this work. Don’t just be passing me the baton to take on, you dump all this mess on me that you broke.” But, you know, how do you continue, how can we do this and partner in this work together with our youth? And I think bringing youth along with us, you know, just as Jesus did, as he modeled that, telling the children to come unto him. So I think that’s really important. Micah, what about you?

Micah Smith
Yeah, I was actually going to bring up youth, too, but come at it from a slightly different angle. I’ll start with a person who gives me hope is my therapist. And I’m a strong, strong supporter of therapy. Just thinking about, I had a great session yesterday, and just finding more hope in myself and learning how to love myself and all those sort of things.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Micah Smith
And as I think about that, I think about all the work that I’ve done with my therapist to break these generational cycles. And then I think about how tomorrow I’m going to be sitting down with a friend and her oldest son who’s in seventh grade, my two middle kids who are eighth and 10th graders, and we’re going to be having a book discussion over Born a Crime. And just thinking about, this is a second one we’re doing. And how we have this whole thing about wanting to have our kids think through and discuss and understand different perspectives. That’s like the main point of this. So we can be more empathetic and compassionate and understanding. And so like that is just like thinking about how, when I was growing up, this was not something that was happening in my household. That’s not a moral statement, even with my parents. That’s just like, as a white person, we were not talking about these things, we just had a certain way we looked at something. And now I’m looking at how I’m seeing a lot more, there’s a lot to be discouraged by out there, but there’s also some things to be hopeful about. And we’re seeing people have to address the injustice within our history and how that’s impacting us today. And sometimes some of that is pushback. Some of that is like, I need to talk about how we don’t need to talk about that. But that’s even more advanced from where I was, where it just wasn’t a thing to even think about. Now we’re having to actively like try to work against it. And that’s a hard thing to look at positively. But I think it is that we’re being forced to confront it. But then also, there are people who have these kids who are learning these different like ideas and perspectives not as a threat, but as something to learn from. And just thinking about how these are tangible ways that we see people changing the dynamics going forward into the future. Because these people are going to be the community leaders going forward. And so that’s one area with youth that I’m just really excited about and how that plays out.

Micah Smith
The other one I want to bring up is, I was, you know, I’m into data all the time. I brought that up at the beginning. (laughter) I was looking for something in our system that looks at our donors. And I noticed that we have this donor who’s given $5.40 a month. And they’ve been doing that for over three years. And I noticed we have a lot of people who are like $5 and $10 donors in there. And who have been doing it for three plus years. And I started thinking about it, I started thinking, this puts them back in like 2020, roughly, and all the stuff that was going on there and all the disruption that was happening in the world. And, I thought, you know, when all that happens a lot of times, okay, it gets to be really big thing, everyone’s making a big deal about it, we’re going to change the world, and then it gets hard and people kind of drift away. And you don’t see him anymore, and what happened to everybody. And I can get caught up in that, like seeing the people drifting away. But then I see these people who are like, okay, they didn’t drift away. They probably didn’t have a ton to give in the first place. And they committed to giving a little bit to help the work that we’re doing. And they have continued to faithfully give month after month after month into the 30s and 40 months now. And just thinking about how those people give me hope, who just like have stuck with it and see those little ways as mattering. And so I just keep looking at that. And our donors are an example of that. And I appreciate our larger donors, too. But I just think about these little donations they matter and they say something about where a person is and also their endurance, like they’re willing to stick with it. There’s a lot of people who are willing to just keep going, and we kind of get lost in the people fallen off because the work gets hard, but so much hope in those people who just keep going. We see it all through Be the Bridge.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, like their commitment, you know, our donors commitment allow us to do this work. Without them we’re not able to do this podcast. Because we have to pay a producer, like we have to pay for an engineer. You know, the platform that we’re using, all that costs, you know, Riverside. Like, all these things that cost that add up. And, you know, basically the cost of a drink or the cost of a meal or a car payment, or whatever that may be for some people, that looks different, but people are doing what’s tangible to them to bring about hope and peace and justice through the work of Be the Bridge. I was just thinking, you know, this is going to be a time where we, you know, it’s like to hold on to Scripture during this time as we talk about remembrance and recalling. I want you to think about just a scripture that just stands out to you that you want people to hold to in this moment.

Latasha Morrison
I want to read, as we get ready to close, Romans 5:1-5. And, you know, this is entitled “Peace and Hope.” And I’m just going to read that as you guys are thinking. And I want to give just some scriptures, just some to help guide people through the darkness. Because I think one of the things that we’re seeing and why we’re dealing with the things that we’re dealing with in our world is how we’ve also interpreted scripture and just the hermeneutics that we’ve embraced that are not life giving, that don’t represent the fruit of the Spirit. That’s a good litmus test. Is the Scripture leading you toward compassion, humility, where that is representing the dignity and the image of God in all people? And sometimes when it’s not leading you towards love, you know, that’s a good litmus test, and where something may have not been interpreted well or right and righteously. And so it says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,” and this is the NIV, “we have peace with God through our our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God, not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that the suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given given to us.” And so when we reflect on that, this scripture reminds us of the incredible gift of salvation we have received through the faith in Jesus. It reveals the depth of God’s love and his desire for restored relationship with each of us. It also encourages us to live in the peace that comes from knowing who we are, we are justified by faith confident in our standing before God. It invites us to continuously embrace and appreciate the grace and peace that flows from Jesus Christ. What are some things that kind of stands out to you? Some scriptures that you hold on to when times get hard and when it feels like it’s easy to lean into hopelessness or, you know, it’s easy to doubt. And it doesn’t, and hope is not without doubt. You know what I’m saying? So I don’t want you guys to hear that hope is without doubt. I think doubt can be exercised in a positive way. Because to me, sometimes doubt can fuel my faith. When I when I lean into it and work within it, you know, it can do that. What is something that stands out to you that you would like to share with our community?

Micah Smith
I have this kind of thought coming to me as we’re talking. And I think there’s something we’ve talked about but we haven’t named. And that’s lament. And thinking about how there’s hope in lament. And so it goes along the lines of what you were saying about this is different, what we’re talking about is different than just this positivity all the time, trying to be positive and pretend like everything’s good. And so there are times when I just don’t feel hopeful. And I just have to acknowledge it. Because there’s a lot of pressure in trying to feel hopeful all the time. And it’s okay to take a minute and acknowledge that there’s times where I just don’t feel like things are coming together, everything’s falling apart around me. But then, out of that, I can take comfort in the fact that we don’t always have it all together. We don’t always have to feel like you’re holding on to hope. Because the fulfillment of hope doesn’t rest in me. It rests in God.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Micah Smith
And he has given us a spirit so that he has us even we don’t got it that day. So just like thinking about going to him in that and trusting in him in that. And it takes me to Lamentations three, which, you know, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” I always knew that song and loved that song. But for so long, I didn’t understand the context of that song. Where it comes from this scripture, where we’re standing in the destruction of Jerusalem, of Israel, and most people have been either killed or taken into Babylonian captivity. And there’s just these people left. And so I was just going to read a little bit of that, with that context. In Lamentations three, “He has made my teeth grind on gravel and made me cower in ashes. My soul is bereft of peace. I have forgotten what happiness is. So I say my endurance has perished. So has my hope from the Lord.” And that then that’s, I feel like that’s a personal perspective. And then then it’s like, “remember my affliction and my wonderings,” it’s like it turns to this prayer, “remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall, my soul continually remembers it, and is bowed down within me, that this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, the Lord is my portion says my soul. Therefore, I will hope in him.” So I just love like sometimes when I just feel like everything’s destruction around me, I just come back to that place and imagine myself in that position where they were and turn back to this prayer, remembering that God’s got it even when I don’t.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. And I think, I’m glad that you brought up lament, because this is definitely something that we, for our community, we tell people to hold to. Because when you don’t have the words, you know, when you’re trying to cling to hope like that, the response of that is lament. And we’re in a lamenting season right now. You know? There’s so much to lament. And you can do those things in tandem. Both of them are true. You can be hopeful in lament. You can have joy and lament. The world, especially Western culture tries to put us in a box where if you’re lamenting, you can’t have joy or if you have joy, you must not be lamenting. But you know, there there are gray areas. This is not some pretty little box that we can fit all of our our emotions into. Tange, what is a scripture that you’re holding on to in this season?

Tange Johnson
Mine doesn’t, the scripture that I hold on to is not directly related to hope, but I find hope in knowing that God sees me. And sometimes the reason that I feel unstable is because I feel like, “Wait God, where are you?” As is if you’ve left me or you left the world. And I have to consciously put myself, remind myself that I’m important to God and that he’s with me. So my favorite, all time favorite passage that brings me to tears is Psalm 139. And of course that he created me specifically uniquely, but also that I can’t flee his spirit, his presence. Like wherever I am, he is. So Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you’re there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you. The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you.” And that, I draw, I personally just draw strength from being reminded that God is with me and that God is in control, that he hasn’t left. And I think that that’s important for this time. We talked about how intentional God is, and that even through chaos and evil, God does good things. He allows good to permeate from the darkness, light to come through, shine through the darkness. And so we talked about being conscious of that. And when we come to a place of recognition where God delivers us or shows himself, we need to build an altar. And then those times where we feel lost, and we feel as if he has taken his hand off of us, we need to be reminded that he’s with us and that he can’t leave us even if he wanted to.

Micah Smith
That’s beautiful.

Latasha Morrison
So good. I mean, and I think in this is just a little reminder, just remember that as people are clinging to hope, as people are clinging to God, that we don’t silence someone’s lament or someone’s hope.

Micah Smith
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
I was just reminded of just thinking about Job. In Job’s lament, it says, “Therefore, I will not be kept silent, I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit. I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” And I see a lot of that happening around us. And sometimes we’re wanting to silence it. But God is saying, “Allow them to speak.” There’s going to be so much birthed out of this anguish that we feel, that sometimes we can’t comprehend it. But it’s the thing that keeps us sane, it’s the thing that keeps us whole. And it’s the thing that reminds us that God is still in control. So I’m thankful for where God has taken Be the Bridge this year, where God will continue to take this work that we do and the people that we have been so gracious to lead. This isn’t a perfect work. You know, we are not perfect people. This isn’t a perfect organization. But we are an organization that looks to the hill from which comes our help. And our help comes from the Lord. And that is something that we hold true. And we cannot do this work apart from God. And sometimes the people in the church are not as kind as we would want them to be in our lament and in our hope. But we are clinging to God in that, that God would turn hearts, that he would transform minds, and that he would redeem souls in the midst of this. So thank you guys for joining me on the Be the Bridge Podcast. We are empowered by hope. Make sure that you pick up you know maybe this year you’re thinking about joining a Be the Bridge group, go to our website, find out how you can get connected. Maybe you’re looking to dig deep in this work to continue your growth and process. We have on our website, we have a list of resources. We have an Academy that we launched where you can lean into this and grow with your community. Micah mentioned about the book study that he’s doing with his children and partnering with another friend and their kids. You know, we have Be the Bridge Youth and College. You know, there’s so many books that are out there. We have more content now then, you know, on this subject matter to help people who want to be helped, to heal people that that are looking to be healed. You know, so check out our website, go to our website, follow us on all the socials, you know, download the guide, start a group, join a group, all the things. And then also, buy the book and the book that is to come. And so thank you so much for your support. Although we are preparing for a year ahead of us, we don’t know what’s around the corner. But God is preparing us. And together, we can endure, together we can persevere. Make sure that you’re not doing this alone. Partner with people. If you don’t have people in your community, look for people online. Connect with us so that you know that you are not in this alone. And thank you to all of the people who have locked arms with Be the Bridge. You are part of our hope in this journey. So thank you so much for listening to us. And thank you for joining us on the Be the Bridge Podcast.

Narrator
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.

Audio Clip
[song playing] My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.