The full episode transcript is below.
You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:06
[Intro] How are you guys doing today? This is exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:16
[Intro] …But I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.
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 0:55
Okay, Be the Bridge family, I am so excited to have my friend, who is just fabulous, here with us today. Her name is Megan B. Brown. And so I’m going to tell you a little bit about her and we’re going to welcome her to our community. And so, Megan Brown is a seasoned military spouse and military missionary. She is a military liaison for the Speak Up Conference Global Missions Military Scholarship and the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Robins Air Force Base Military Spouse of the Year. She’s passionate about the military, her mission work, and teaching and preaching about Jesus. And she’s out of the local church. Her Bible study she just released back in May is called Summoned, and it’s called Answering God’s Call to the Impossible. And it’s published by Moody. And we’re gonna just jump into this. The great thing about this is when I was reading this, I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is another Bible study on Esther.” But she gives a different take than I’ve read before on this. And so we’re gonna get the jump in to a little bit about that. And then also talk about her connection to Be the Bridge and myself and all the wonderful things. So welcome Megan Brown to the Be the Bridge podcast! How you doing?
Megan B. Brown 2:33
Hey! Oh my goodness, I’m so excited to be here. I have a full cup of coffee. All My children are distracted with popcorn and television. And we are so excited to be with you this morning.
Latasha Morrison 2:45
Okay! Well, I’m so excited to to have you here. We met a few years back, I think it was at a IF:Gathering that we met. And we’ll get into that a little bit later. And you wrote a book! You wrote like a Bible study to equip the body. How did you end up writing this book? But before we do that, I know I gave your bio. And I gave this spill on you. But tell us a little bit, you’re your wife, you’re a mother and tell us a little bit about Megan that the bio leaves out.
Megan B. Brown 3:37
Absolutely. I love listening to my official bio. I sound like I’m so put together. I think a more accurate bio would be: “Megan Brown. You’ve most likely seen her at the local Chick-Fil-A.” And it’s almost like, I’m a homeschool mom. Right? So my husband is active duty military. We’ve been married for 15 years. We have four beautiful children. We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is the land of sand and shrimp baskets. And that is my jam, y’all. I love living on the beach where beach tacos are a daily occurrence. Right? So we’ve been on the coast for a while. We were actually stationed here from 2014 to 2018, where we started church planting. And so we are church plant fanatics. I love the idea of creating culture through a new church plant. It’s much easier to create new culture than it is to change old culture. And so I love, love, love church planting, y’all. We are down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We are part of Back Bay Church, a new plant in the St. Martin de Agricole area. I’m doing the homeschool mom runs. We’ve got an eighth grader, a sixth grader, a fourth grader, and a first grader. So it means that I read a lot and I am in teacher mode almost all the time. We have two fur babies. And I’ve been in active ministry for about a decade. So those are the fun ins and outs of my unofficial bio. Hi, my name is Megan Brown. I love chicken nuggets and beach tacos. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 5:14
So chicken nuggets and beach tacos. I love it. I love it. And you see, we read these bios, but sometimes you just want to get a glimpse of the the things outside of the bio. You know? What do you like to eat? And what do you like to watch? And all those different things. And so there was just so much there. You’re homeschooling your kids, I know that that pretty much has had you busy this entire year, with everything that’s going on. But you were doing this before the pandemic, right?
Megan B. Brown 5:45
Right. I joke and say that we were vintage homeschoolers. We were homeschooling well before the pandemic. So I mean, I’ll say this. Homeschooling in a pandemic is very different than normal homeschooling. But we’ve loved it. I think that there’s something to be said about the discipleship of our children through education. And I think that that can look a myriad of ways. For us, it looks like family discipleship and homeschooling. And man, we love it. We love it, love it.
Latasha Morrison 6:15
Cool. Cool. Now, I wanted to talk a little bit about this connection to Be the Bridge. And I wanted to, you know, just a few years back, we met. Can you tell me a little bit how we met and what started you on this journey? Even before you wrote this book, I know you were doing a Bible study, you told me the story, you were doing their Bible study and just livin life. And tell us a little bit about some of the Bible studies you do on the military base and what kind of made you seek out Be the Bridge a little bit more.
Megan B. Brown 6:57
Absolutely. So we met back, I want to say it was 2017 or 2018, I think it was 2018. I was in Dallas for the IF:Gathering event. And one of the staff members, her name is Sharifah, put together this women of color luncheon at the event. And I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had never been to anything like that before. And I was really, really, really excited. And so we walked into this movie theater. And all of a sudden it was like the atmosphere shifted. I mean, there was just praise in the air. And I got so excited to just hear what women are going to say and what was on the agenda. And so I sat next to this beautiful woman, her name is Sallimae. And we listened and just absorbed all these stories and all of these women sharing what it was like to be a woman of color in the North American church. And I remember thinking to myself, “These women are giving voice to words I have never allowed myself to say.” And I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s not just me. I’m not crazy. I wasn’t imagining that. Oh my goodness. Yay! These are my people.”
Latasha Morrison 8:08
Right, right, right.
Megan B. Brown 8:10
I just felt overwhelmed and overcome with just thanksgiving and gratitude for that space that was created there. And simultaneously, it made me want to explore some of these conversations in a deeper way. And so at this point in our ministry, I had been leading Bible studies for years. We moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in early 2014. After my husband’s deployment to Afghanistan, I was overwhelmingly convicted about sharing the good news of the gospel through home Bible studies. And so I wasn’t a qualified teacher. I’m using bunny ears at the time, I was really unsure of what I was doing. But I knew the Lord would make up the difference. And so I opened my living room. And in that time, we had six women gathered around my coffee table, and it was the motliest crew. Like it was me, my weird neighbor, a rocket scientist, a brand new military spouse, a young mom, and a commander’s spouse. I mean, you want to talk about a range of age, life stage, socio economic background, I mean, it was totally different. And we found that the only book that would bridge those gaps is the Bible itself, right? And so the next week, we had 17 women. And I thought, “Wow, Lord, what’s happening here?” And the week after, 25.
Latasha Morrison 9:31
Wow. All in your house?
Megan B. Brown 9:32
All in my house. And I remember on that third week, opening my blinds to the front of my house, and watching women dragging red wagons and lawn chairs, because they just were so desperate to hear the word of the Lord. They wanted to know what this book said and who God is and what Christ had done. And I thought to myself, “Alright, Lord, I guess I’m a Bible teacher now.” And so, by the time I got to that luncheon, I’d spent four years in the trenches. And these conversations were constantly coming up. And really the story that I shared with you, this was after our meeting in 2018, but really this happened all the time. Any time I would host a Bible study there would always be a conversation raised about reconciliation; it was it was a guarantee. And at the beginning, trying to equip women to have this conversation, well, it was kind of a daunting task. Because as a woman of color myself, it’s painful to have to go into these spaces and be like, “Well, you probably shouldn’t say that,” or “You will absolutely not say that.” And, I mean, there’s all of this layered intensive work that needs to be done to reach women at the heart. And so, after that luncheon, I was going back to my regular quote unquote, job and ministry leading studies. And it was amazing to me that in the middle of a Bible study someone dropped a racial slur. And I just remember feeling like it was a bullet. And I think it was interesting also to me that there were half of our group that didn’t even bat an eye. It was just normal conversation. And the other half of us were like, “Whoa!” And as the leader, I remember standing up and being like, “Alright, guys. Timeout, timeout. There’s something we need to talk about. We need to talk about it now.” And I remember I pulled the curriculum, I closed the book, and I’m like, “Hey, we are going to take a break from this Bible study, and we are going to change direction. We are going to have a different conversation. And we’re going to be brave about it. And I’m going to address that what just happened to so not okay, and we’re not going to keep it that way.” And then it was a lot of aftercare for the women that were in the room, right? It didn’t ended that conversation. But what I found was amazing, is that we spent the next number of weeks going through the Be the Bridge curriculum, instead of the Bible study that we had started. And women bravely came back, even the woman who said the word came back.
Latasha Morrison 12:15
She didn’t bow. She was uncomfortable, but it sounds like it was a lot of ignorance there and she wanted to learn a new way. You know, if she kept coming back, right?
Megan B. Brown 12:26
And it was multiple people that were involved in this conversation. It wasn’t just like a one and done. It was layered. And so we brought all of our kids. And we brought all of ourselves to the kitchen table. And we just did the hard stuff. We talked about it. We talked about acknowledging the issues, we talked about lament, we talked about these huge principles. Really we focused on the theological understanding of the imago dei, and that we need to really recalibrate our minds and our hearts around what Scripture is actually teaching us. And so at the end, and this was my favorite part, we brought our kids in on the last day. And we wanted to bring our kids into this conversation. And so we have, you know, there were 12, 13 of us. And so that was probably 20 kids. I mean, a lot of us are home schoolers, so we have all our kids. And so we sat our kids down, I have this huge kitchen table bench. And so there were kids on the floor and kids on the bench. And I’m talking to them like I was just teaching a Sunday school class. Right? We’re just talking through it. And then one of the big questions we asked at the end is, how can we celebrate our differences, while remembering that ultimately, God is our Father and that we are uniquely made, but we are inherently are made in His image? How can we celebrate these differences? I read Revelation and we talked about what the end of the, what it will be like when we are in heaven in the courts of our king, that I was going to be an Asian woman in heaven, that these beautiful children were going to retain their ethnicities in heaven. And it almost was like the light bulbs came on. Yeah, I don’t think we think about that. And so there was this little red haired, freckled, eyeglasses, little sweet little boy who reached out to Mimi who has beautiful natural hair. And he said, “You know, I can tell Mimi how beautiful she is. I can tell her that I love her hair.” And she got teary eyed and then all of us got, all the adults are like ahhh. But we wanted to pass that torch to the next generation of understanding properly who our Father in Heaven is and what that implies about who we are and how we should treat one another. Really beautiful moment.
Latasha Morrison 14:42
Yeah, yeah. I think, you know, going back to that, as I was reading your Bible study, I think it was day four, you kind of go into describing that moment. And one of the things that you talk about is before that going into that luncheon…And this is the thing, for those of you who are listening, and maybe you’re not understanding why there was a woman of color luncheon, “Isn’t that reverse racism?” First of all, you have to understand the definition of racism and what that means. And if you want to know more information about that, you can go to the Be the Bridge website. But when you have these predominantly white events and environments, and if you’re trying to be inclusive and you understand that we worship differently, we receive things differently, we look at things through different lens, and if you’ve never been on the other side of that coming into a space that’s maybe unfamiliar a little bit, is what this organization did was create kind of like a brave space to say, “We see you, we acknowledge you, we know you’re taking a risk in being here. And we want to celebrate you in this moment and let you know, when you walk out of these doors, these other women are excited to see you.” So it’s like a touch point. And if you’ve ever been to another country, if you’re a white woman listening to this, if you’ve been to another country where you’ve been the minority or the marginalized or wherever, this kind of sets the stage when you’re coming into an environment you begin to understand that country’s culture or what you’re going to experience, what you’re going to witness. It helps take down sometimes the walls that you’ve built up. And so that was the reason for the luncheon. You mentioned something in your book, Megan. You said that you were around 32 at that time and you had not let yourself identify as a woman of color before that. And then you describe that your biological father emigrated to the United States from Thailand in the early 80’s. But he was absent from your life. So although you are biracial, you didn’t identify with that because your father hadn’t been in your life. And he had left before you were born, and you never allowed yourself to explore that Asian ethnicity. You grew up in the deep south, and you said that your “ethnicity was a little more than a reason to be mocked or ridiculed. This luncheon would change everything for me.”
Megan B. Brown 17:42
Latasha Morrison 17:43
And to me, it went back to: this is the why. This is the why. Because your ethnic identity is something that God has given you. And when we try to become colorblind about that or when we try to ignore that we do a disservice…
…to a part of God’s creation. And so, what was going through your head? And, I want to know the journey after that. And why…go into details about why you had never really explored that. Maybe you didn’t have anyone to ask questions to or it was something you were ashamed about? Just explain because I know that this is going to connect with so many women.
Megan B. Brown 18:31
Absolutely. So this is one of those places that I kind of tag in my mind as just those vulnerable conversations. Because for me, growing up in the south and understanding fundamentally how different I was, I look back at how I engaged with it in the past and it was pretty rough. I mean, I would have to emotionally prepare to meet new people because I knew right out of the gate they were going to hit me with the question: “What kind of Asian are you? or “What about this?” or “What about that?” And I tried to downplay it so much so that when I was in high school and middle school, I wanted to dye my hair blonde and I wanted colored contacts. And I wanted to diminish the things that were different about me. And I remember being maybe in eighth grade and asking my mom if I could break the rule about hair color, and I could color my hair blonde. I wanted to blend because my separateness or my different ness was such a point of pain. People were mean. you know, when I was young and in elementary or grade school, it was the children pulling their eyes or saying rude things to me. But when I got a little older and when I was in high school, it was the oversexualization of my ethnicity. And it was the gross and lewd comments made by my classmates that just made me just shrink. And then when I got older and I was in college, it was grown men that said crazy things to me. And I just remember always feeling like I had one foot in each space, but I was welcome in neither. Like I didn’t really fit in rooms full of full ethnic Asian women because I did not grow up with that Asian experience, not with the culture, not with the…Right? Like, I was raised in the south. I mean, you know, it’s a very strong culture, the southern culture. And then simultaneously, I was rejected by those people multiple times, based on…and it was always interesting because I would catch myself making a joke about my ethnicity to see who would laugh. And then I would know, “Don’t be friends with that person.” Right?
Latasha Morrison 20:40
Oh wow. Wow.
Megan B. Brown 20:42
It was just like a mental note. Like I would just make a joke to see how people responded and the people that were like, “Why are you joking about that?” I’m like, you’re a safe person. I like you. Hi.
Latasha Morrison 20:49
Megan B. Brown 20:50
“Nice to meet you.” Just kidding.
Latasha Morrison 20:52
Megan B. Brown 20:53
It’s all these weird, like coping mechanisms about surviving without the micro aggressions. And people, hear me say this, I get asked this question a lot. “What’s a microaggression? What do you even mean? What do you mean when you say that?” And what I mean by that is, there will be times where I’m not thinking about anything, I’m just with my family, and people will catch me off guard. For instance, I was at a kid’s birthday party, minding my business, reading my book, the kids are jumping on the trampolines. And one of the family members of the person whose birthday it was, I’d never met this person, came and sat down next to me before asking my name before hey, how are you? “So you’re mixed, aren’t you?” And it always catches me like, I’m always like, “Whoa, whoa, we’re going? Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Megan, can I ask you an equally inappropriate question?” Like, it just never, it’s, I’ll say it this way, I’m always painfully aware of my differences on the outside before I’m aware of anything else when I’m around new people.
Latasha Morrison 22:07
And that’s why it’s really important for us to understand that term, microaggression, as it relates to even gender – men and women – and ethnicity and all those things. And I know that’s become kind of like a bad word in terms, because I guess it makes people feel uncomfortable. But I think it’s important, especially when you’re on the other side of that, when you are on the other side of receiving that microaggression it’s important. And I think a lot of people who try to downplay that word have never been on the other side of that. So in teaching ways that we see each other and greet each other without the first thing, “What are you?” You know, “I’m human.” (laughter)
Megan B. Brown 22:56
I guess what upsets me about microaggressions is that it requires me to keep the peace at my own expense. Like that’s what really makes me angry.
Latasha Morrison 23:04
Repeat that again. Repeat that again.
Megan B. Brown 23:06
I have to keep the peace at my own expense. That there’s this, I don’t have a good choice. You know, I’ve talked about this with my husband, I’m like, “What are my options here?” Right? Like, I can just swallow it and keep it and be like, alright, let’s just keep the peace at my own expense. I can overreact and really teach somebody in that moment, like, “Girl you crazy. Why are you doing that?” (laughter) Right? But then I look like the nut ball, right? So that’s really not, and as a Christian minister, I’m supposed to manage my anger and bridle this tongue, but the Lord is sanctifying me in this way. And so then, you know, what am I good options? And so when it comes down to it, I’ve got to keep the peace and I’ve got to keep it at my own expense. And that’s just how it is sometimes. And so I have to remind myself in those moments, that at the end of the day, it’s not about me anyway, it just makes it a little difficult. And so the journey, I remember getting off the plane coming home from Dallas, calling some of my close friends and being like, “I think my life just changed; I think that life will be different now.” And one of my very well meaning, who I love, best friends. She was like, “What are you even talking about? You’re not a woman of color.” (laughter) And I thought this, I’ve done a really good job camouflaging this for like 32 years. One of my closest friends is like, “What do you even mean?” Right? That’s the level at which I was masking, is that people that were intimately close to me, were like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I didn’t even know that you were even thinking about that.” And so, basically, and the woman who coordinated that event and I still keep in touch because I tell her all the time, that was a milestone, not just in faith walk but in life. And so to be unapologetic about being able to accept that identity and to explore it…just the update on that journey, part of our homeschool curriculum involves Thai children’s books. My kid, my daughter is in first grade, my children are older. And instead of only researching Eurocentric histories of the world, we’re learning about Southeast Asia. We’re learning about these things together, and there’s a redemptive quality of all of the things that would not let myself explore. Now the Lord is letting me explore it, and my children have it from the start. We have this book. It’s called The Girl Who Wore Too Much. And it’s about, it’s a Thai fable about a girl who has too many pretty dresses so she wears them all. And so, which I identify with, really, and so I’m reading this to my first grader, and she’s engaging. She’s looking at the pictures. We have a book that’s called Eyes That Kiss in the Corner. And it’s beautiful. We’re learning to accept this as a family. It’s a beautiful thing.
Tandria Potts 24:32
[Voiceover] Wow, incredible insights. Don’t go anywhere. We’re going to pause for a quick moment, and we’ll be right back.
Latasha Morrison 26:21
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Tandria Potts 27:54
[Voiceover] Thanks for staying with us. Let’s get back to our conversation.
Latasha Morrison 27:58
I know a lot of times those who have transracially adopted that’s similar situations like that. But I love how you are exploring that. I was just having a conversation with another friend who was was adopted, but her biological mom was white and her father was Chinese. And she’s researched so much. She’s even found the actual village that her father, her grandfather came from. In learning the language and the food and she’s visited the country and I’m like, I think you probably know more than even some Chinese people whose families emigrated here. But there’s this rich history there. And it’s a part of our story and who we are. And so we’re gonna get to talk a little bit more about this, but I wanted to talk about just your new book, and what made you write about Esther. Why Esther?
Megan B. Brown 29:11
Oh, man, well, I’ll say it this way, my journey in writing was kind of accidental. I was leading Bible studies. And with the vast array of the demographic of a military community, I couldn’t go to my local Christian store and get Six Ways to be a Better Friend, Nine Things about New Motherhood. Topical studies are, they’re great and they have their place. But for us, these women needed meat, they needed to get into the Word. Some of them had never owned a Bible. One woman came to my house for a Bible study and she was carrying this really old King James Version, and it was water stained, and it looked like it had been through some hard stuff. And I was like, “Tell me about that. Is that a family heirloom? That’s interesting.” She’s like, “No. I’ve never been to a Bible study. I have never owned a Bible. I found this at Goodwill. Is this the right thing? Is this what I need? I found this for $1.” And I’m like, “Yes, give me that. You don’t want that. Let me switch you.” Because I keep, as you can see behind me, I have a myriad of books. But I always keep study Bibles to give away to newcomers, because they might not have ever held one in their hands. They don’t need basic Christian principles, they need access to the Word. And so I eventually, my husband came home one day after I was doing ministry forever. And there were 16 commentaries and interlinear Bible. And I had rewritten the book of Ephesians in the original language in Greek. When I say I’m extra, I’m extra. And he looked at me and he was like, “Woman, what are you doing with your life?” And I said, “I just want to learn all of these things. I want to know.” And so he said, “Babe, why aren’t you going to college?” And I kind of giggled, because at the time, my husband was a tech sergeant, and we had four children, right? What money am I going to college with? There’s no money. And a couple of days later, he came back to the house, and he had a white envelope in his hand. And he sat me down on our kitchen table, and he just slid it across real chill, like “Here you go babe.” And I opened it up, and he had transferred his GI bill to me, so that I could pursue higher education, which was one of the greatest gifts he’s ever given me other than our children, right? Like this is a great gift. So after he transferred his GI bill to me, I enrolled at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. And one of the first classes I started to take was Old Testament theology. And we were studying, you guessed it, the Book of Esther. Now I had read Esther before. And I had read a couple of commentaries and Bible studies about Esther. Be brave, like Esther. Be courageous, like Esther. And the more I read Esther, I’m like, hmm, this is about sex, slavery, and racism. Why aren’t we talking about any of that? And so I looked at some of the things and the resources that were out there. And and they were lacking. And really, the drive to write this study came from really three places. The first spurred from a discussion board. I don’t remember who posted it in the thread. And these are not my words, I’m gonna just quote the thread right from the straight. And it said, “Why is the Book of Esther in Scripture? Is she a (air quote), hero or a harlot? (unquote).” And I remember balking at that. And my husband could see that look in my eye when I get a little crazy. So I’m cracking my knuckles. And he said, “Baby, what are you about to do?” I said, “I’m about to take somebody to school.” (laughter) And so here I am clickety clacking away, and I really spend some time forming my thesis, if you will. And what I came up with, is that Esther had been taken captive, kidnapped, and was forced to give herself to a pagan king. I would hardly quantify that or qualify that as the quote unquote harlot. That really made me kind of angry. And then, and I say, kind of angry. That’s like the understatement of the year. And then secondarily, I looked at the fact that God’s faithfulness is not in His provision of a perfect or pleasing life nor is it found in the prevention of painful things. This woman was an orphan, her parents were dead, and she’s being taken into captivity. Like we’re not talking about the cush and rich and lush lifestyle that you would want. And finally, I found that his faithfulness is in the firm fact that he keeps his promises. And ultimately, when I looked at the life of Esther, I thought to myself, she is both broken and very bold. And that should give women empowerment, to know that our paths and our choices and all of the things that we think sum of us up are not what the Lord sees when we place our trust in him. He sees a redeemed child through the finished work of the cross, and that emboldens us and empowers us to be able to respond to what he calls us to do. And in Esther’s case, he called her to do something big. When I look at Esther, I think of her as the female version of Moses. She’s not just some, you know, nice young lady that was courageous. It’s a big deal. Like when we talk about, you know, biblical leaders of old, you think Moses and Joshua and the prophets and there’s this cloud and this wait and then Esther gets reduced to like a six day devotional about how to be brave. And I’m like, “Whoa, bro. Gross.” (laughter) So that’s that’s really the heart behind the study is to not only showcase that God does amazing things through ordinary people with busted lives, but also that women have a key, irreversible irrevocable role in the Gospel story.
Latasha Morrison 35:27
I love that.
Megan B. Brown 35:28
And so that’s it. Yeah, that’s my soapbox. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 35:32
And I think one of the things, I love the fact how you discussed the cultural background for the Book of Esther. Because I think sometimes that’s skipped over how we study scripture and understanding what was happening and why was she in the king’s home. But we through our sometimes patriarchal lens will say that she was doing something wrong, she was the harlot. Not understanding, you know, that her parents were dead. And understanding just the cultural what was happening in the background of that. So I love that you go into that and that was some of the things that provoked you writing this story was that you saw so many things that were written, that didn’t highlight the entirety of the story. Because when I first saw it, I was like, “Oh, another book about Esther.” (laughter)
Megan B. Brown 36:32
I kept thinking that myself when I was writing it! (laughter) And you know, when I watched, okay, so I watched the Veggietales version. And I was like, “That ain’t how that went down.” It’s not beauty pageants and tiaras.
Latasha Morrison 36:47
Megan B. Brown 36:48
I was talking to some of the women I was discipling and they had understood it more like a Hallmark movie.
Latasha Morrison 36:53
Megan B. Brown 36:54
Like, oh, they fell in love and it’s like Cinderella. Let me tell you man. It was not a monogamous Western marriage that we think about. She was ornamental at best. And you know, there’s a translation that says, oh, “He loved Esther more than all the other women.” No, like that’s not what it means. He lusted after, he approved of, she won favor. But I think that we have twisted the narrative of Esther into this really whitewashed 1950’s housewife version of what it is. And that is so far from the actual truth of Scripture that when we interpret it that way, we make a great an egregious error. It’s bad. And we misapply and we misunderstand and then we miss God. And so yeah. But I said that to myself, I’m like, Oh, girl, I’m writing another book about Esther. Here we go. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 37:51
I was like it and then we really need to write a book about Vashti and just how that’s a whole nother conversation. We’re not even gonna go into that. But we could be on here all day talking about her boldness. (laughter)
Megan B. Brown 38:05
Yeah, she was like, “Pass.” When we look at scripture through Western eyes…
Latasha Morrison 38:13
Megan B. Brown 38:13
…we have to understand that absolutely the Bible was written for us. Yes, the Bible was written for you. Reject the lie from hell, that it’s not for you. And it’s not for today. But you have to remember it was not written to you.
Latasha Morrison 38:28
Repeat that again. Repeat that again.
Megan B. Brown 38:31
The Bible is written for you, it was not written to you.
Latasha Morrison 38:34
Megan B. Brown 38:35
And we have this big responsibility, this job, if you will, to dig and excavate the text to find out what it meant to the original audience, and what it means to us in light of the original meaning. We can’t just, one of the comparisons I make is, and I jokingly say one of my favorite scriptures – I love all of Scripture – but Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most well known scriptures in women’s ministry. Right? “I know plans for you, declares the Lord,” right? Okay.
Latasha Morrison 39:05
“Plans to prosper you. Not to harm you.” (laughter)
Megan B. Brown 39:07
Yeah, that was when the temple was razed to the ground. Men were murdered in the street, women and children were taken captive, and they were being escorted out of God’s holy city. That is heavy, weighty stuff. That scripture isn’t talking about that the Lord has a particular plan specifically for you, and it’s going to be great. God’s great plan for his people was that they would be denied his presence, and that they would be scurried off into the night into the unknown. And they had to trust his promise that he was not going to end their lives. And so, when I look at Esther, Esther was written about 100 years after the prophet Jeremiah penned those fateful words. And I believe it’s that promise that Mordecai and Esther were clinging to, in the midst of their madness with you know, a genocidal maniac in the helm that wanted to eliminate millions of people. Man, racism is bad. And so yeah.
Latasha Morrison 40:09
Let’s talk about that. I really want to talk about that. And this is the thing because a lot of people think like, “Oh, I would be…” When we read this book, we see ourselves as Esther or we see ourselves as Mordecai, but really, a lot of us especially living in the States, a lot of how we think is like Haman. Snd so what was Haman ultimately trying to do and why?
Megan B. Brown 40:41
So when I read the book through the lenses of understanding it in the proper historical context, I even made a point in the book. We like to identify as these biblical heroes and heroines. We like to puff ourselves up, and my editor changed my wording, but really were the sad screw ups and goobers that just jack it all up. We’re more like the mischievous, malignant, mean-hearted, jacked up brothers and sisters in the Bible. And we need to realize that. These stories are not about us. These are God’s stories. God is going, “This is the story of these people. Look at this goober. And look what happens when you submit to me, but look what happens when you don’t.” I feel like Haman and really when we look at what happened to him, and you know it’s a spoiler alert guys. But I even wrote it in the book, the piece of wood, the spear that was meant to kill us all was our greatest redemption. Haman, Haman got his. Right? But at the end of the day, what I want us to see through the story of Haman is that pride on its own is an incendiary sin. Pride attached to hate and misplaced aggression is bad news bears. And so when I was talking about Haman in the book, and I was talking about Mordecai, they have a conflict in the scriptures. And it’s interesting to me that Haman is like, “You know what I’ll do? I’ll take out his entire people group. I have a personal vendetta with this one person, but it’s time to attack his ethnicity. Let’s just wipe…” It was a tribal thing. And to me, it’s interesting how quickly racism can elevate from personal preference and irritation and approval to the mass genocide of millions of people, men, women and children.
Latasha Morrison 42:39
Yeah, this was beyond prejudice. This was beyond I have a problem with Mordecai and him not submitting to this rule. You know what, I’m gonna take out everyone, not just in my city, but in all the provinces.
Megan B. Brown 42:55
From India to Ethiopia.
Latasha Morrison 42:58
Megan B. Brown 42:59
Everywhere. And I think that when we think about the fact that the Persian Empire was only slightly smaller than the United States. We are not talking about an itty bitty city state. I wish, I pray, my hope is that we will learn to understand the massive implications of the truth of Scripture. We can’t be thinking about them as fairy tales or fables. They’re not bedtime stories. The Bible does not shy away from the dark, deceitful, vengeful, negative, nasty stuff that resides in the depraved human heart. It invites us to look at it.
Latasha Morrison 43:40
Right? And not look away from it, not whitewash it, not change the narrative, not change the story…
Megan B. Brown 43:48
Not explain it away. Right.
Latasha Morrison 43:49
…but to look at the ugliness. But also to see the salvation of Christ and the hope of Christ in that. That’s so good. Because I love how you do connect this to racism and genocide. And I think so many times before, when people are reading the Bible, we can disconnect from some of the overall cultural things that’s disparaging us right now. What can we learn from this story today?
Megan B. Brown 44:27
Really, I think I said it earlier that we have a tendency to look at our circumstances and think about God’s faithfulness. Well, things are bad for me right now. Is God good? Right? The heartbeat of this book is that God is good when things are bad. I think we can learn a couple of things about ancient Persia and also maybe some parallels to today. There’s an interesting thing about the book of Esther, that the name of the Lord, God’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the book. It’s absent. And the phrase, “If it pleased the king,” if you went through with a highlighter and highlighted, “If it pleased the king,” “and it pleased the king,” and “It pleased the king and the king was pleased,” it’s all in there. There’s a subnarrative, right? Everyone is worshiping an earthly King, the will of a godly King, the King, our King is not there. But God is silently swiftly moving in through these broken pieces. And we can see his hand in the role reversals and in the sudden swaps. I joke in the book like you’re gonna hear Alanis Morissette singing Isn’t it Ironic? the whole way through. Like, oh isn’t it ironic, right? That’s ironic. There’s a literary tool there. And I think the big thing to take away is that in current times, when we have all of our eyes on, I’m just gonna say it, Washington, and we don’t have our eyes fixed upon the author and perfecter of our faith, we may be missing it. And by may, we definitely are. And we have to remember that while we think that the things that are coming out of Washington are what’s controlling our narrative, we’ve got to remember God is moving in and through all of the lives of his people, and he’s going to do what he’s going to do. And we need to trust that his plan is good. And we need to lean into that, and remember that his faithfulness is in his promises. And the promise that we cling to is what? Right? That Jesus has been resurrected, and that Jesus is coming back. And that’s where our hope is at and in nowhere else.
Latasha Morrison 46:40
Yeah, yeah, that’s good. That is so good. You know, going back to this journey that you’ve been on, and you read a little bit of, you talk about and you reference Revelation 7:9. And this is one, when I’m doing talks and trainings that I go back to this. Because it doesn’t override my Christian identity and my identity in Christ, but also really was helpful for me to understand that it matters. When I look in the mirror, I see beauty, because this is what God has created. And that God is in each and every one of us, and that what God made is good. And that it’s not okay to be colorblind because we are denying the aspect of God in that mindset, and in that ideology. And so one of the things that you, Revelation 7 is telling us that there is no division in heaven. And one of the things I always say we act like there’s gonna to be like a south side of heaven, a north side, Asian people are going to be over here, you’re gonna have Vietnamese on the east. (laughter) It just makes no sense, and how we view because we think so tribal. But I think Revelation 7:9 gives us a beautiful picture of what’s to come. And I do firmly believe in, “On earth as it is in heaven.” And so, we probably need to put some practice in, right about now and get some things straight if we do think we’re going to be together. And so, I just wanted you to kind of just read that.
Megan B. Brown 46:41
Latasha Morrison 47:06
Because I know that that was important acknowledgement and kind of a wake up call for you as we come to end in just a moment.
Megan B. Brown 49:14
Revelation chapter seven, verse nine: “After this, I looked and behold a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and languages standing before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, ‘Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” The word of the Lord. Amen. And when I think about when the fact that we are offered a foretaste of heaven; we’re offered a foretaste of heaven in a multitude of ways. And I think when we deny reconciliation, when we deny the holy and sacred work of building relationships, we reject this foretaste of heaven. We say, “No, thanks, Lord, we’re good here.” And I think that that is a shame. And so when I think about reading this, and I imagine in my mind, and I close my eyes, and I see me and my brothers and sisters, and my kids and my husband, because I mean, my husband’s, you know, run of the mill Midwestern white guy. I love the idea that we’re going to be together in heaven, palm branches in hand, and we are going to be praising the Lord together. It’s a beautiful picture. And it’s it’s one that I keep in the forefront of my mind, when we experience hurt and hatred here, that this will not always be so.
Latasha Morrison 51:02
Yeah, yeah. One of the things, just a series of questions that I try to ask each guest that appears on the Be the Bridge podcast. Because sometimes we can talk about all the things that God is doing. And I think one of the things we don’t practice that I feel that is also an act of worship, because it draws us closer to God, and it doesn’t let us displace sometimes our sorrow, is the act of lament. And what are you lamenting in this season? What is something that you are lamenting in this season?
Megan B. Brown 51:49
I think one of the things that I’m lamenting is making…well, let me back up a minute because I have to make the space to lament. And because of the particular things that are happening in our world today, specifically in the Middle East around our military community, lament is the only word I have. Right? You know, I don’t have eloquent words. So I’m just going to use some of the words that my friends and my sisters and military spouse communities have been saying, another friend of mine said that Afghanistan was sort of like the third partner in her marriage. It determined where we lived, how we raised our kids, when we had them. We’ve been 20 years at war. And so when we look at the the things that are happening, the atrocities that are happening, the lives that were lost, to serve over there, there’s a lot of lament. And if I had to be honest about what I’m lamenting right now, it’s just the state of our hearts and the state of affairs over there, the children that have lost parents, the killings, I mean, the service members who have just recently lost their lives, I’m lamenting all of that. And I haven’t really done that publicly, I’ve been asked to make statements and to say words, and honestly, my heart is just not in the place where I have elephant words, or that I have unfiltered unconcentrated grief.
Latasha Morrison 53:23
Repeat that again, the dog just started barking.
Megan B. Brown 53:26
Yeah. So I’ve been asked to make statements or to share my thoughts or to give feedback, and really, I can say, with honesty that my my head and my heart aren’t there yet. That all I have is unconcentrated, unfiltered grief and lament. And so when the honest answer to what am I lamenting today, I’m lamenting the current circumstances of my family members in our military community. Suicide rates are up, people are wondering, “What have we paid? And was it worth it? And what’s happening now?” And so we’re just, we’re grieving and lamenting over the lives lost, and the lives that are continually lost. And we’re praying for our leadership, for our military community leadership. We’re praying for the brave men and women who are currently serving over – well, you know, depending on when this airs – currently serving over there. And we’re just praying for healing and restoration. Jesus, come quickly.
Latasha Morrison 54:39
That’s so good. Thank you so much for sharing that and we hold that tension with you. And the thing we say in that is, we lament. You know? And so, may God have mercy.
Megan B. Brown 54:56
Latasha Morrison 54:56
And I know you feel that because you’re so up close and personal. And then myself being from a family of those who served in the military and my father who serves and my grandfather and my uncle and so many others, cousins, from a military town, we feel it in a different way when you’re up close and personal. And those of you who are listening who this has impacted your family, for those of you who are working alongside this in any capacity, we lament with you. What are some things that are bringing you hope during this season?
Megan B. Brown 55:42
You know, I kind of, I refer to our homeschooling journey as the redemption of my own education. Right? Like I grew up a complacent child, I was not necessarily interested in education. I didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities that were in front of me. And so what I’m hopeful about is that I’m raising up a generation of children who love the Lord, who love others, who are learning how to shape the way they view the world through the gospel, through a life of evangelism. And I’m excited about the work that God has called me to in this season, which is really to reach his children who are far from him. One of the things that I got early in the feedback of this book is that it’s really resonating with Millennial readers, because they’ve never understood that the scripture had something to say about today. I’m hopeful in the mission that God has given me to be a mouthpiece for him to a completely lost and unchurched generation. If you are a millennial, and I jokingly say I’m a Zennial. Like I learned to do computer on dos key commands; I didn’t have social media until I was an adult; my first cell phone was like that green screen dinosaur from Nokia, right? You could play snake. Texting required some serious coordination, guys. But what I’m understanding and hearing from readers is that millennials and Gen Z are hearing that God is calling them to himself. And so in the midst of pain, in the midst of heartache, in the midst of suffering, that they are hearing that the Lord is for them, and is calling them, and I guess that is what I’m hopefully working with in this season is that God is using my voice to reach children that he is in fierce pursuit of. And that is, that is good.
Latasha Morrison 57:38
That is good, that is so good. Thank you so much. And, you know, the work of Be the Bridge is, you know, we want to lead people and culture toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And we really explain what true reconciliation looks like. Because that, too, has been whitewashed and misused and abused and what it takes for that. But you know, sometimes when you’re you’re doing this work, or you know, we forget what reconciliation calls, even as you’re talking about just the restoration of relationships, you know, even outside of racial reconciliation. And what does…but sometimes we can’t dream, we’re doing this and we’re hopeful of it, and we’re talking into it, we’re speaking to it, we’re praying about it, but have we really imagined or reimagined what this can look like. So what does racial reconciliation look like to you, Megan?
Megan B. Brown 58:48
So I have a unique advantage in the fact that in the military community we’re made up of a conglomeration of people. We’re from all over the country, and they just throw us in a room and they impose a ranking system and they’re like, “Hey, get along.” (laughter) So it’s one of the most multicultural communities. And I love it, because, you know, the makeup of our community is already done for us. And we have the privilege of maintaining relationships with people from other countries and people from our own country that are from different regions and different backgrounds and different cultural experiences. And the richness of that is such a gift from God. And if I had, I guess, a dream of what reconciliation looks like is that that would leave the military community and it would come into my local church, that I would feel that same love and community and multicultural care in the local church that I do at the spouses dinner or at the Air Force ball or that we have all these beautiful cultural expressions in the family of God. That’s really what I think it looks like. I think it looks like local churches waking up to the to the truth and the vision that the military community is one of the greatest missional forces of our generation. And if we were properly cared for, welcomed in, plugged in, and discipled, that we could release the third great awakening from our community. We move every two to four years, we’re on every, we’re all over the globe. And I think that if we could take this beautiful cultural richness and care that we have as a community, and carry that torch into our local church, I think we could see some really cool stuff done on the reconciliation front.
Latasha Morrison 1:00:42
So good. Thank you for just dreaming with me in that. Because we have to see it. And I think once we see it and believe it, it starts to just shape our belief system, and then change our action to be a part of that solution. So we have Megan Brown here. And she has an eight week study of Esther, Answering a Call to the Impossible, and it’s called Summoned. And I’m so grateful. And then I look on here, the foreward was done by my good friend Vivian Mabuni. Vivian is just…
Megan B. Brown 1:01:19
There is Asian girl magic all over this book.
Latasha Morrison 1:01:20
Yes. Asian girl magic all in this. And so I’m so grateful for that. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for writing this study just to grow the body into a rich and I think this is gonna be good for all the listeners of Be the Bridge. And so although this is a story, you know, because it’s about Esther, because Megan is a female, it doesn’t mean that those of you who are of the male persuasion out here, that this is not for you. Because it is for you. You have mothers, you have wives, you have daughters, you have friends, all of these things, you are in a community. And so this is very important also for all of us to read and to understand and to delve into because we are all a part of the kingdom of God.
Tandria Potts 1:02:17
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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 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.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai