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As a faith leader and activist, Michelle Ferrigno Warren understands the power of proximity and of holding stories with honor and dignity. In this powerful episode of the Be the Bridge Podcast with founder and host Latasha Morrison, she and Latasha talk about God’s heart for justice, the lack of mercy immigrants are met with crossing the border, and the bad shape of the witness of the American Church.
Michelle shares about her personal journey in Italy of seeing the empire on display at the Colosseum. And you do not want to miss their discussion of the upside down Kingdom of God as they exegete Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25. This is the perfect conversation for the Be the Bridge community the week of Easter. May we join Jesus and the prophets in the work of resistance, in the work of being disruptors, in the work of granting life and peace.
[Our friends at IVP have shared that listeners can get 30 percent off plus free shipping at ivpress.com from April 4 – 18 with code BRIDGE]
Open Door Ministries
Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)
National Immigration Forum
The Power of Proximity: Moving Beyond Awareness to Action book By Michelle Ferrigno Warren
Join the Resistance: Step into the Good Work of Kingdom Justice book by Michelle Ferrigno Warren
Women of Welcome
Women of Welcome “Who is Welcome Here?” documentary
God’s Long Summer book
Prayer of Oscar Romero
Connect with Michelle Ferrigno Warren:
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Connect with Latasha Morrison:
Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts
Transcriber – Sarah Connatser
Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.
The full episode transcript is below.
Latasha Morrison 0:00
My team said, “Oh, that was a great Instagram Live video with Michelle because you guys seem so natural. Y’all did a great job!” (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 0:12
And that’s so fun that your team said that. Because my daughter called me right after she’s like, “The two of you have such a great vibe. It was so fun to listen to.” (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 0:22
Yeah, that’s exactly what our team said. They said the chemistry was really good. So yeah, so yay!
You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:35
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:46
[intro] …but I’m gonna 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 1:20
Be the Bridge community, I am always excited, as you know, to introduce you to new voices, my friends, colleagues, just all the things that I have the experience and exposure to, we like to bring those voices before you. And so I have today, Miss Michelle Warren. And I’ll just give you just a little taste of who she is. And we met several years ago. We’ll talk about that. But, Michelle is the President and CEO of Virago Strategies, a consulting group that provides strategic direction and project management for civic engagement campaigns alongside of communities affected by racial and economic injustice. She helped found Open Door Ministries, a community development 501c3 corporation in downtown Denver to address poverty, addiction, and homelessness through social programs. With her policy expertise in economic justice and human service issues, she has served as an advocacy and strategic engagement director for the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and done coalition work with the National Immigration Forum, where I actually got to do some work with her that we’ll get to talk about. So Warren is a senior fellow with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute and adjunct faculty at Denver Seminary. She and her husband live in Denver’s Westside neighborhood and have three adult children. She also wrote a book called The Power of Proximity. And we’re going to talk about today her new book called Join the Resistance: Step into the Good Work of Kingdom Justice. And this is the book that I had the pleasure of writing the foreword to. So we’re gonna get to talk about all those things. But before we get started there, we just need a moment to catch up a little bit. So the last time I saw you, you were in Atlanta. We went to lunch or to dinner. I brought my dog and he tried to terrorize you. Right? (laughter)
That is a great introduction, Latasha. No, don’t say that about T’Challa. (laughter) Let me just start by saying thank you for creating space to be able to have a conversation. You and I always enjoy having a conversation regardless of where we are. And T’Challa was just a new part of a dynamic to have dinner with each other when I went to Atlanta. I will never forget it. Not only the dinner but driving in your car with the dog.
Oh yes, yes. He was in his car seat, right?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 4:22
I believe so. I don’t think I’ve ever quite experienced…it was good to meet a dog mom with a new, what I kept calling a COVID puppy. (laughter) Like that socialization. He’s sweet. He cares much about you and feels like he needs to defend and protect you with his small little self and his very aggressive little bark. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 4:52
You have described him perfectly. He is a little fellow. He is very territorial. He is very protective of his mama. He has all the barks. And his barks, you guys, his barks are not like the little soft barks. Those of you who have met T’Challa that are listening to this….if you met him before he was two, or before he was one, he was fine then. But once he turned one, it was like a new dog. And so he had barks for barks. And they’re aggressive barks, like I’m gonna eat you up type of bark. So, yes. And yes, he does have a car seat because little dogs can fall in a car when you throw on brakes and driving in Atlanta traffic I’m trying to protect my investment. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 5:46
Aww that’s so sweet. I wanted to tell you. He endeared himself to me. You know? I mean, I have a lot of people in my life. I got animals; I got little humans. And I remember when, this is sort of some of the parallel. I was the mom with the brand new baby that did not have a cute newborn cry. You know what I’m saying? (laughter) Or the little baby cry. “Oh, it’s so cute.” Mine was just like, “Get that woman and her child out of here.” All three of them. Not one of them. Now, the good news was they didn’t cry that much. But when they did, nobody wanted to be around them.
Latasha Morrison 6:23
You cleared a room. You would clear a room, a plane, all of that.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 6:23
Yeah, yeah. I’m gonna tell you, I can identify with little, you know, people and dogs that we love and really not sounding like anybody else, but their family loves them. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 6:26
Yes, yes. I know. I know. But that was actually not too long ago when you were here in town.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 6:44
It was in the fall!
Latasha Morrison 6:45
Yeah, it was in the fall so. So it’s great to hear you. We met, I think we met…I don’t know the year but I know I was living in Texas at that time. And we met at North Park University. It was an event, I got invited to an event that was Evangelicals for Justice I think it was. And that’s when I met Lisa Sharon Harper.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:12
Oh are you serious? That’s when you met her too?
Latasha Morrison 7:13
And I think I was afraid to talk to her. I was afraid to talk to her. Yeah.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:19
Oh, that’s really funny.
Latasha Morrison 7:20
It took me a minute to talk to her. Soong-Chan Rah. I think Mark Charles was there. There was a lot of people there in that room. I can’t remember everyone, Kathy Khang was there.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:41
I’m going to start listing. Dominique Gilliard was there. Michael Emerson was there. Daniel Hill was there.
Latasha Morrison 7:51
Oh my goodness, I forgot.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:50
Nikki Toyama-Szeto was there. I mean, the list, Alexia Salvatierria was there.
Latasha Morrison 7:52
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:56
The reason I bring up Alexia is one. She’s on my mind. But I know exactly when it was. Exactly. It was July 2016.
Oh, my goodness.
That was a few months before a very important election.
Latasha Morrison 8:13
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 8:14
It was right after the Republican Party declared their nominee for president.
Latasha Morrison 8:19
Okay. Okay. Okay.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 8:22
I had been working, oh, gosh, like the November before. So, November 2015. I mean, we didn’t know who’s gonna be president. We didn’t know what narrative was going to be. In my job, my boss and I had decided that we were going to do this 150 mile walking pilgrimage during August, September 2016, to highlight the issues around immigration. So since it was on the California coast, I of course, called my friend and compadres, Alexia and said, “Okay, we’re walking 150 miles, every three miles, we need like a water break and a stop. Help me find every Intervarsity, every volunteer group.” And so she and I had been working tirelessly together. I want to say February, March, April, maybe it wasn’t February, maybe it was March. But anyway, so in July, we almost didn’t come. Because we were going to do this pilgrimage in August. And I thought I do not have time to go to Chicago and talk about how horrible everything is in evangelicalism with this new candidate. I mean, like I’m spitting nails. I’m so frustrated. Like, that’s the last thing I need to do. So I just want to tell you how redemptive it was to sit with you and meet you. I remember when it was. Cause the week later we’re walking 150 miles with leaders, 150 leaders from around the country trying to raise awareness about injustice around immigration and what the church needed to do.
Latasha Morrison 9:42
Wow. Wow. And then now that you’re mentioning immigration, Michelle does a lot of advocacy work. And so you were leading Women Welcome, right?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 9:58
I mean, I was informing it. I mean, I, yeah, I was gonna say I’m gonna pull back a little bit. Not because it’s not great, but I do not seem like poster child for Women of Welcome. I will say I’ve been working, let me just backtrack a little bit. I have worked on the issue of immigration not as an issue, but a neighnor since like 2002.
Latasha Morrison 10:21
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 10:22
So it’s like 21 years in the movement, work of immigration. And it wasn’t like I learned from a distance. I live in a neighborhood that 86% of my zip code is Latino.
Latasha Morrison 10:34
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 10:35
And you don’t say I love immigrants and I love my neighbor, but I don’t care about immigration. I usually tell people like if you say you love immigrants, and you say you don’t care about immigration, you must not know any immigrants. So I’ll just say that I had been working alongside my community for a number of years. And in realizing that there weren’t almost any white people in the work. And that there wasn’t anybody that I knew of rooted from, from an evangelical or, yeah, evangelical tradition weren’t a part of the work. And I was like, this is so wrong. And so I wanted to build that consensus. So one thing led to another and I actually worked for the National Immigration Forum as a consultant from 2012 until 2019. And during that time, they did start Women of Welcome. But I had been doing a lot of different things, but always trying to bring leaders, whether they’re business leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement leaders, bring them to a place of understanding immigrants and immigration in a more holistic way, so that it wasn’t just this vitriol, political response. And so yes, and I remember the call I made when I asked you to come to Oaxaca. I don’t know if you remember.
Latasha Morrison 11:54
I remember the call. And I was like, “Wa who?” (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 11:57
Well, it was brand new. It was brand new. I had been working mostly with the guys. Not purposely, but that’s just who seemed to be in it. And then they asked me to come over and build a grassroots, they had been doing mostly digital things, and I’m more community organizing grassroots. And I was like, “Yeah, I can, I can do that. I think. I’ll try it.” And so yeah, so I got to lead a few border trips and one of them was with you and a bunch of great women to Oaxaca, Mexico.
Latasha Morrison 12:25
And that was like, really, I would say life changing and life giving.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 12:30
Oh that’s so good.
Latasha Morrison 12:31
Because when you’re, until you get up close and personal, and hear the stories for yourself. You know, being in ministry, I had always had friends and, you know, different communities that were immigrants. But it was different, I think seeing it on the front lines. I think I was seeing it from the back lines a little bit, you know, in helping people navigate this really unjust, unorganized system we have here. But seeing it on the frontlines was very different and seeing it with other women from different backgrounds and perspectives was really interesting. And then I think some of the highlight too, that people in Oaxaca thought that I was a superstar. They thought that you guys were my film crew. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 13:29
I know. I loved it. Tasha, you were just like, opening up your arms and posing, taking pictures. I’m like, “Are you okay?” You’re like, “Yeah, they think I’m Oprah.” (laughter) That’s what you kept saying to me.
Latasha Morrison 13:39
(laughter) I kept saying it.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 13:42
I was, “I can say don’t do that.” You were like, “No, I’m good. I’m good.” (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 13:49
I was like, they were like, they’re asking, “Who is she?” I said, “Just tell them I’m Oprah. Come on let’s take a picture.” (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 14:00
I’m never gonna forget that trip for that because of the way you posed for every picture. Because I was like, “Maybe she could look like Oprah, I guess.” Oh, my word. So there was something really…
Latasha Morrison 14:13
I lived right into it. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 14:14
You did, you did. You ate it all up. And I was happy to carry your bag and be a part of your secret service or whatever.
Latasha Morrison 14:23
That is so funny. Oh, my goodness.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 14:26
I want to say this, that trip. First of all, I’m always learning. Like I have led so many border trips. I’ve been to the border so many times. You know, the border, in some ways, is at my doorstep. And you know, we may or may not get into that conversation just with my neighborhood, my community and people who’ve lived with me over the years. But that trip was really unique. And in that, I remember wanting to not stop at our border, maybe cross over to, you know, Tijuana or cross over into Juárez. I wanted to really go deeper into Mexico to have a different conversation of the push factors of why are people even taking this dangerous journey through Mexico. I mean, I know the lines and I know the statistics. But I wanted to really listen. And I don’t know if you remember those details, but it was very intentional. Like we spent time with the Mexican government.
Latasha Morrison 15:20
Yes. Yes we did.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:21
So that was unique. We spent time with NGOs that were working. And I remember…
Latasha Morrison 15:29
The Catholic Church. It was like, the Catholic Church is doing, I mean, most of the centers that we went to were being ran by the Catholic Church.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:39
Yeah. And then even I don’t remember if you were in my breakout session, but we had been to that one NGO, and we got to break up and listen to young people…
Latasha Morrison 15:49
Yes I did.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:49
…share their stories and why they were doing things. And you really want to hold people’s stories, I mean, anybody who gives you their story is a gift.
Latasha Morrison 15:57
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:58
This is a gift to receive with the generosity with which they share. And I do worry about like secondary trauma, but more even retraumatizing people are telling their stories. So you have to hold that tension. But I was so grateful for each person who shared, who wanted, not everybody wanted to. And I learned a lot on that trip.
Latasha Morrison 16:20
Oh my goodness.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 16:20
I just learned so much.
Latasha Morrison 16:21
I can never unsee. I can never unsee and unhear just the stories. Especially from the children where when we went there, like we played some games, and they’re children like any other children, you know, playing games, but they’re dealing with this heavy trauma, just, you know, just this awful system within their country and then within our country. And some of them, the goal wasn’t even necessarily to just come here it was really to find safety and security to get away.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 17:05
That’s exactly right.
Latasha Morrison 17:05
And that was to consensus, especially with the family that we met. The mother, we met the mother and the daughter, the father and the son they were away working. And I think the son at the end, we got to see him because he was doing work around the center. And they were a family, what they were trying to do is save their children. They didn’t want their children, their son recruited into a gang. So they were doing what any mother or father would do, risking their lives to save their children. And to hear her tell her story. And I think she said, I said, “What would you want us to communicate to people?” And it’s so funny, I have not like, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about this because this was in 2019. And now that we’re having this conversation it’s good. But I said, “What would you want us to communicate to anyone in the states?” And she said, “That I am not evil.”
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 17:05
That’s right. That’s right.
Latasha Morrison 17:26
And she said, “I’m fleeing evil.”
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 18:17
That’s so powerful. I have chills.
Latasha Morrison 18:19
And that, I just remember. Like, I’m telling you like, I don’t know if that was suppressed. But I just remember those words. I can see her face, I can see that little girl’s face. And I just, and I remember there praying, I remember just saying, “Lord, don’t let me unsee this.” You know how you can just, you can take things in, you see so much, that you take things in and you normalize things. And I always have to pray about like, don’t allow me to normalize this. And then meeting a little, I think it was a little 11 year old girl that had just given birth.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 18:56
That’s right. I was gonna say she was in, I feel like she was in my group. That is what I haven’t thought about until we were talking right now.
Latasha Morrison 19:02
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:03
An 11 year old who had a brand new baby as a result of rape.
Latasha Morrison 19:08
Yes. And she was a baby.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:10
She was a baby.
Latasha Morrison 19:10
It wasn’t an 11 year old that looked like she was 13. She was 11 year old that looked nine. She looked nine years old. I just remember her white tennis shoes and her pink shoe strings. And her little shoes had little butterflies on it.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:30
Wow. I almost started to cry. That’s really profound. Yeah.
Latasha Morrison 19:36
And she had a bow in her hair. And so, I’m just, you know, just those stories. And I got an opportunity to be a part of a documentary that you guys were doing.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:52
Oh that’s right, I forgot that.
Latasha Morrison 19:54
And the documentary. That’s why they thought you all were my film crew. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 20:00
Oh that’s right, because we did, we had a film crew. You’re helping me remember. Yeah, yeah.
Latasha Morrison 20:03
We had a film crew with us following us around. And there’s a documentary because what we were trying to do is bring these stories up close and personal, for people to see, and to get their stretch, to have them reimagine, and have them lead with empathy and grace and mercy and compassion. And these are our brothers and sisters. Like, you know? We live in different countries, but at the end of the day, these are our brothers and sisters. And many of them are people of faith.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 20:39
Latasha Morrison 20:39
And we met so many people that were coming in that were doing pitstops for food and to be able to wash and to change clothes. And I said thank God for the people of peace. Thank God for the places of peace. Thank God for the places that are doing the work of justice.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 20:58
Latasha Morrison 20:58
You know? And to provide refuge for people in their time of need. And so that was very impactful.
Yes. Give us mercy for those who are not.
Exactly. May God have mercy.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 21:14
Many of the shelters on the Mexican side of our southern border, where people are gathering and getting ready to cross, and they are praying and they are asking God for safe passage; they’re remembering their family that they had to leave some just in terrible situations and praying for mercy. And then I often think about the church that’s receiving them on the other side, and that breaks my heart. It’s like the same faith and mercy that we cry out for on both sides of the border. What kind of mercy are we going to show when people come to our side? And we are not a merciful people. And we are not going to be remembered in our history in this moment and many of our moments in recent history as being anything but unmerciful. And those are the questions we have to ask ourselves. What is our distinctive as the people of God who are supposed to be agents of peace in the world?
Latasha Morrison 22:16
Yeah. Whew, I tell you.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:19
I haven’t thought about that in awhile, Tasha. Thanks for letting me hear that story. I learned so much on that trip.
Latasha Morrison 22:23
I know. That was just really impactful for me. And, you know, just the work that you’re doing. And I love, just the friends that I have that expose me to so much and have me not be tunnel visioned. You know? And so that’s really helpful. I want to talk about your book, your new book. You wrote, your first book is the Power of Proximity. And you wrote another book, how you show up is as important as showing up. How you show up is as important as showing up. And I thought this was a great conversation to have with our community within Be the Bridge. Be the Bridge we’re very unique in the sense where we are an organization that’s all about equipping and empowering people toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And we have a very mixed audience. We have some people that have been on this journey for a while. We have some people who are just starting this journey. And one of the reasons that I started Be the Bridge was, I was saying that we wanted people to understand XY and Z, when they didn’t understand ABCD.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 23:18
Latasha Morrison 23:30
You know? And so we wanted to create a way for people to on ramp into the conversation, so that they can understand the XY and Z. And then that we have also been a refuge for the BIPOC community in a sense where they’re finding, where we can sit with one another in our pains and our joys and our sorrow and understand each other and learn about each other’s story and to become more unified within our advocacy and also within our resistance. And so we’re in this unique thing, because we have this community a BIPOC that needs one thing. And then we have this community of a white bridge builders that needs something, you know, something else. And so, that’s a hard thing to juggle and to do. And so we’re always looking for resources that’s going to help in that journey. And I just had the opportunity that interview someone else before this podcast, that’s really gonna help, their voice is going to help, you know, within that BIPOC community. But then when I say Join the Resistance, I think this does two things. I think it’s going to help the white bridge builder, but also, I think it’s a tool for the BIPOC community also in this. Because it’s a tool for us to use when we’re having these conversations. And so, you know, you know what, and just so I can give, you know, one of the things you say is “The book equips Christians for good work of joining Christ in His restorative work in the world by learning how to show up to the work of resistance or the movement. It helps them understand their place in the moment, in their overall movement toward justice and healing.” And those are, you know, that’s, I mean, this is, you know, why I was like, “Yes, I can do the foreword, because this is our language here.” And then you say, “What is distinctive is that it guides you step by step towards those directly impacted by injustice, joining what they are doing and away from achieving political power or commentating on injustice. Join the Resistance grounds Christians in the theological call to be active agents of salt and light. And join Christ in His restoration of the world, going beyond individual, and even social restoration, to systemic restoration.” Whew. That fits right there. And so, I love…what would you like to see people take away from these words that you have written? And why did you write this book?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 27:07
Well, let me just start by saying thank you for Be the Bridge and for continuing to use your voice and your platform to create opportunities for different people groups to come together on the work of justice. I think that’s a really unique gifting and calling that you have. And it’s just a privilege to not only have you as a friend, but also a collegue in the work. I resonate with what you were saying about the XYZ. Because I always want to talk about XYZ, Latasha, that’s really what I want to talk about. And I know you had to start with Be the Bridge, and I can’t wait for the second book to come out. And I remember when I wrote my first book, I wanted to pretty much start with XYZ and they’re like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, you need to go back to ABC.” I was like, “Who wants to go back?” They’re just like, “Pretty much, everybody. I don’t think people want to hear what you have to say quite yet in this way.” So I think that that is such a great, you know, even that alphabet timeline for me as this mathematician, strategist person, because Join the Resistance is all I wanted to say LMNOP. You know, that’s where we are with this. Right? I’m still not at XY and Z.
Latasha Morrison 28:17
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 28:17
And the ABC of it is when your eyes begin to open, and you begin to see the pain and injustice of the world. And for me to say that already shows that I’m talking about people who are privileged, people whose choice, you know, to engage in justice, because it doesn’t directly impact them. The Power of Proximity was simply written because you cannot fix problems you don’t understand. And we’re not waiting for you to fix anything. We are waiting for your eyes to wake up and move beyond an awareness to an actual action that is redemptive and in solidarity. So that’s really ABC. But the Join the Resistance is that, it’s middle, it’s strong, but it’s middle. Because once you begin to move towards some type of redemptive solidarity, there is a deeper work. We can talk about justice and the word systemic, in front of injustice is not small.
Latasha Morrison 29:16
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 29:16
It is so incredibly deep. It is deep, needed justice work. And we don’t want to cheapen it or pretend that it’s easier than it is. And so if it’s so hard to reverse, which it is, then what is the work between the marching? What is the work between certain types of events, personal and collective? And that’s what I tried to do in Join the Resistance was a couple things. Was how can I be as practical as possible in the work of reversing or up ending systemic injustice? And so I wanted people to realize that this isn’t about them. That this is about a collective movement of people. That everyone who’s in it has to pick up the mantle that’s been, you know, that somebody left for them to do. Decide I’m going to step into the work of repair. And we need everybody’s body to do this work. And so how as a white person who isn’t directly impacted, but cares very deeply, how do I, is there a mantle for me to pick up? And where is my place? And so what I tried to do in Join the Resistance was to help anybody who wants to do the work of justice, I’m going to tell you right now, regardless of who you are and where you start, we all know that this work, we have to serve the movement. And we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, we’ve got to do the work. The work is a long work. It’s expensive, because truth may set you free, but it costs you everything. So we got to the table.
Latasha Morrison 30:58
That’s so good. Whew. Say that again. Go back.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 31:00
I don’t know if I can. Ok, I will say the truth will set you free.
Latasha Morrison 31:06
Yes, it will.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 31:08
But it will cost you everything.
Latasha Morrison 31:12
Yes, it will. Yeah.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 31:15
And so you need to know how to stay in for the long haul. And that’s that section, the second section of the book. And the third one is help your people. And you know, that was my, that’s the reason I ended up working for the National Immigration Forum. I had to go back and admit you know what, I’m indigenous to white evangelicals, I may not want to believe that; I may not spend my time with them. But that is my, I have never lost my native tongue. You know, like, I have some influence. And everybody has some type of, you know, group that they can help influence because the work of organizing, the work of advocacy and movement making is about building people power. And so we need you to help bring people who otherwise wouldn’t be here. And so, so it’s very practical book. And so I want people to just realize, okay, the movement did not start when you became aware of it. The movement that’s been going a long time, so figure out how you’re going to, like jump into the stream. Don’t be afraid to jump. You know, that this is kind of some steps that I’ve learned along the way. It’s not just me, it’s, you know, what I’ve learned from others. And I think another thing that, there’s two or three things, I guess. The second thing is this is a collective work. And so I wanted to lift up the stories of people who’ve been doing this work for centuries and decades. Because those of us who, you know, I told you, I’ve been working on immigration since 2002. It’s 2023! You know, like when you’re doing this work, you’re going to be doing it for your life, you know, in different ways. But you need to be inspired by people who fought for justice. And I have, I’m gonna ask you who your hero is. Mine is, has been forever Fannie Lou Hamer.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 0:00
I’m going to ask you who your hero is. Mine has been forever Fannie Lou Hamer.
Latasha Morrison 0:05
I know, and mine is the same.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 0:09
I didn’t know that! I should have known.
Latasha Morrison 0:13
We talked about it on our live.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 0:17
Latasha Morrison 0:18
Because I like, one of the reasons why I see her as a hero, because there’s so many women that we don’t hear about that were a part of the movement. But I like her because she was considered, she was ordinary.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 0:32
Latasha Morrison 0:33
You know? She, you know, even unlike Rosa Parks, she wasn’t connected to the NAACP. She didn’t have the the look or the education that was used to, that people use to elevate those voices to speak out on behalf of the community. You know? She was a sharecropper, she was a sharecroppers daughter. And just what she embodied. And then what she went through. She was a woman of faith.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 1:08
Latasha Morrison 1:08
And it was her faith that was leading her to look at evil and sin in the face and say, “You will not treat me like this because I am a child of God.” And she would sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 1:09
Latasha Morrison 1:09
She wanted to convict them with her faith, with her presence, because you’re supposed to be my brother and sister and you’re treating me like an animal. You know? And she wanted to really speak to their conscience. And you see how God used her. And so her story is just really incredible. And I’m so glad that she’s getting her flowers, in some ways, now. But I would have loved to see her get her flowers when she was breathing and living in this earth. But, I know those who have gone before us that built this bridge and this pathway that we stand on, I hope that we are making them proud as we say their names.
I hope so too.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 2:19
That’s that Hebrews 11:12 cloud of witnesses, right?
Latasha Morrison 2:23
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 2:23
She is a part of that. And we’re continuing to be inspired by her life. She was desperately hungry and thirsty for justice.
Latasha Morrison 2:30
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 2:31
She did absolutely everything that her physical, human, mental, spiritual potential could to drive justice forward. She never looked back. She was unapologetic. She was incredibly fierce. And she never let somebody say, “Oh, that’s not going to work.” She was all in. I actually, chapter three is called Falling Forward, because of one of her quotes – I am falling forward; if you’re gonna kill me, I’m at least gonna fall, I’m gonna die falling forward in the fight for justice. She was the one whose faith story all of a sudden, when I remember closing this part of a book, it was called God’s Long Summer. I remember almost slamming it shut. And I’m like, I’m never looking back. Like I am I am never looking back. Her fierceness, it was almost as though it came on me in such a powerful way. And that’s the third thing that I wrote this book, because advocacy is not mission drift for the church. It’s the work of the Church. Which is why I highlight a prophet in each one of the nine chapters. It’s why I look at the parables of Jesus and Prophet God Himself, who came to resist the leadership of the day, to push back on this idea that God’s love was only for a few, centered those people who are on the margins, and faithful faithful faithful to ensure that everything that we thought that would build a kingdom was flipped upside down and that the unleashing power of the Holy Spirit (not human power) was the goal.
Latasha Morrison 4:11
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 4:11
Those are my hopes. I mean, I’ve got so many hopes, Latasha, but I wrote LMNOP for that one. LMNOP is for those few things. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 4:21
Wow. Wow. That was just so powerful what you just said. I was like, it was like at the Black church tradition, I wanted to say, “Hey hey hey!”
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 4:36
All right, I’ll take a hey hey hey.
Latasha Morrison 4:37
And like how you say your body remembers. My mind remembers that. (laughter) But yeah, you talk about you name a prophet for each chapter and you demonstrate the truth telling and the active response in your book. But I would love to like, give an example of one of the prophets and how Jesus demonstrated truth telling just from one of your chapters. Just to kind of like. Well, I’ll do this, you say in your book, you begin with talking about the murder of George Floyd. And you say, “Because my work was in the advocacy space, my days those weeks were emotional, long listening, connecting, and concerning with the community leaders, supporting them in their grief in response.” And so you talk a little bit about that navigating this work. How does this point back? Because I think people try to separate this from the message of Jesus, from the Bible, like it’s some type of addendum. And I’m like, you know, the work of justice and righteousness you see that clearly in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 6:08
We see that clearly in the Bible.
Latasha Morrison 6:10
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 6:10
This is not the general discipleship of the churches that we have served on staff and have ministered to.
Latasha Morrison 6:18
Yeah, especially the prophets. In the prophets, like, when you see what, who they are pleading with, but I think how, and we read the Bible through such Western eyes, that is like we’re very blind. There are scales. Like I understand spiritual blindness now, where people cannot see. And so, you know, I mean, when I see that, and how I look at Ezra, I look at Isaiah and what he was calling for. You look at Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, what was he weeping for? You know, like, we can go on and on when we start describing the prophets. And I’ve been reading just the gospels, just sitting in the gospels. I think I may stay there all year, just sitting. We need to familiarize ourself with Jesus said, what Jesus did, how Jesus moved, and remembering that Jesus was born into a marginalized community that was being oppressed by the Roman Empire. And the way we think, you know, when we think about America and all that, it’s like we’re an empire. And he was coming to set up kingdom which is different from empire. And I think we see it as all the same thing. Can you just speak into it a little bit. each the people, Michelle. Teach the people. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 7:53
Oh my goodness there’s so many things. I’m just like, well I remember that first question, which of the prophets? So let me at least jump back a little bit on some of the prophets. Because you know, and I’m even taking in what you’re saying as far as western eyes. You can use western eyes and read Isaiah and still know you’re doing it wrong.
Latasha Morrison 8:09
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 8:09
Okay? This doesn’t take you know, I mean, it’s pretty basic from the beginning of Isaiah of Isaiah one and we can go all the way to Isaiah 58. It’s just like, your spiritual piety, your festivals, like I’m tired of your Advent and your Lent and your Easter and your Christmas and you’re singing and you’re releasing of CDs, and just, when you deny justice to the poor. This is what I want to see. And then you’ve got Isaiah 58, which is like, you know, because Isaiah one, I mean, he’s just basically saying the same. Stop going through the rituals.
Latasha Morrison 8:46
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 8:46
You know that’s not even when I’m…you don’t understand my heart. And so, he keeps saying this over and over and over and over again, you’ve missed it, you’ve missed it, you missed it. And just in case, you know, God’s people who are literally missing the assignment, hadn’t caught it in the first 57 chapters 58 could not be more clear. Because that’s when it’s just like, Okay, yeah, I already told you, I’m not thrilled with the way you kind of do your public acts of worship, but even in your fasting, even in that private discipline, decision that you’re going to withhold these natural urges, you’re doing that wrong too. This is not the fast I’ve asked for. I didn’t want you to just take a day to not eat and look penitent. I want your sacrifice to liberate oppressed people. I want you to be inconvenienced by welcoming the stranger. I want you to be sacrificial and feel like you’re not going to make it because you gave away something to a hungry person, to somebody who is in need of shelter. So it’s very clear how we please the Lord. It’s very parallel to Matthew 25 and the parables of those three. How are you going to invest now that we’re waiting for Christ? So I’ll go back to the 58. So Isaiah 58, and you know, where we kind of get this idea. This is what you’re supposed to do is the people of God, if you’re going to catch my assignment, this is how your actions, your righteous acts, will liberate and create justice. This is what’s going to happen. And when you do this then your prayers are going to be heard, then you’re going to not be wanting. Because remember, this is fasting. We’re fasting so that God can hear your prayer. So now I’m going to ask you to fast in a different way, and then your prayers are going to be heard. And not only that, not only will you catch the assignment, and be one with me, but then you are going to have a reputation for being – and I’m going to use that old KJV – repairers of the breach.
Latasha Morrison 10:38
Of the breach. Yes.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 10:39
That’s right. Restorers of streets and…that’s gonna be your reputation. Now, here’s the problem is the Christian witness is always on full public display. And our witness is in such bad shape right now, because we’re not known for being repairers of the breach; we’re not known for being restorers of streets and dwellings. But if we would be the people of God, that we would catch that assignment and use our time to liberate others, then we would be doing and getting what we need as communion with Christ. So that’s some of what I talked about in Isaiah. You know, I talked a little bit about the parables. But I just wanted to show that the prophets which if you start counting pages are like a majority of the Bible. We don’t know them. We don’t know them.
Latasha Morrison 11:00
We don’t. We don’t.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 11:28
And they are where we hear the heart and the priority of God. In order to understand why Jesus came, in order for us to understand the love of Christ, we need to understand the justice of God, which is so clearly evidenced in the work and the voice of the prophets.
Latasha Morrison 11:58
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 11:59
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I don’t remember all the other questions you asked me. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 12:06
But that’s so good!
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 12:07
At the moment I am in, you know, as I think about just, you know, it was…I know, there was something I was gonna share. So my maiden name Ferrigno. People usually call me Michelle Warren, if they can’t pronounce Ferrigno. So I understand that.
Latasha Morrison 12:22
Yeah, that’s what I just did. Yeah. I didn’t want to mess it up. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 12:25
I know, it’s hard. I got a hard last name. I get that, I get that. So Michelle Ferrigno Warren. But I’ve always wanted to go visit my relatives in Italy. And I just never had the resources, and some really beautiful things just landed literally as a gift in our lap this summer. And so I got to meet my Italian relatives.
Latasha Morrison 12:43
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 12:47
It was very fun. And I got to see the Colosseum. And I was basically bearing witness to an old empire, to a notorious old empire. And an empire that Jesus was born into. And so I was on the Colosseum tour and the woman was sharing, she’s not, like it was no Christian tour, it was just a normal like sign up on the internet kind of tour. And so we did this. And she said there’s three things that you need for an empire to grow. And one of them is you need to be, you need to have a thirst for war. So war and the conquest. The second thing you need is you need to subjugate; you need access to cheap labor. And so you’re going to subjugate. You’re going to oppress. You’re gonna not give people fair wages. You’re going to enslave them. And then the third thing you need is a lot of entertainment to distract people that they’re dying in war, and that a lot of them are living oppressed, you know, to be able to build this empire. And so here I am in the Colosseum, this epitome of entertainment. But I thought about that in the sense that, she said, she’s like, “Christianity really ruined the Roman Empire, because they kept teaching that people were equal, that slave and free were the same, that men and women were the same. That it didn’t matter what race or culture or your socioeconomic status or your gender, none of that mattered in light of Christianity. And all of a sudden, people were no longer entertained with this idea that it’s okay to oppress and conquest. And it began to catch and there was no thirst for war and subjugating.” And so I mean, that is not the way the story was written. That was interesting to me. And I also thought about Jesus coming and delivering the Sermon on the Mount at a time, during that empire. How do we feed an empire? By murder, by subjugation, by slavery. And then Jesus said, “Oh, no, we don’t want to try to subjugate and oppress people. We don’t want to create war. We want to say blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are persecuted.” I mean that is the upside down part of the kingdom. What kind of kingdom are you building Jesus?
Latasha Morrison 15:01
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:01
You don’t know what you’re doing. We are being oppressed by empire. We are hoping you can help us become the pedagogy of the oppressed and push the next people down. Are you kidding me, this is what we’ve been waiting for? And he blows everything up because he wants to create equity and peace and redistribute the way we see people and the way the poor see themselves. And I mean, the whole poor in spirit and rich and spirit. I mean, there’s the poor,and there’s the rich.
Latasha Morrison 15:29
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 15:29
When I think about rich in spirit, I think people who know how to get to God. They think they know God. I got it. I’m a Pharisee. You know, this is what it means to be righteous. And this is what it means…you know, beware of that person. Because they’re rich in spirit. The person who’s poor in spirit acknowledges, you know what, except for the grace and the mercy of God. They understand the book of Romans and how desperate and how we were…Right?
Latasha Morrison 15:56
Whew. You preaching. You preaching. (laughter)
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 16:02
I almost feel like I should be apologizing. But I need to take a breath. You need to take a breath.
Latasha Morrison 16:09
No, this is…our community is gonna love this. And what we try to teach if you don’t understand it, sit in it. You know? Sit in it. And, I’m just like, may your spirit give witness, bear witness to what is being said. You know? Like, whew. That’s an experience. So you’re thinking about all of this while you’re when you’re first time in Italy, the grounds that you’re walking on, you’re like this is the empire, this is the place that was living and thriving. You know?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 16:55
When Jesus came and disrupted the whole thing.
Latasha Morrison 16:57
When Jesus came. All of it.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 16:56
I mean, think about it. Those prophets were so annoying. Think of the prophet of Amos. He was just like the sycamore farmer in southern Israel, Judah, and he has to go run up to where the temple is, because he doesn’t like the practices because there’s so completely the opposite of the heart of God. We’ve got people who are thinking they can keep one foot in the church and one foot in the world. (That’s today’s language.) And think it’s okay to deny that, oh, I don’t know things. I’m not going to see the evil. I’m not going to hear the evil. I’m certainly not gonna speak the evil. Like, somehow I live this compromised way. And here’s this farmers who’s like, I cannot take it. And I am running up and I’m going to set things straight. That’s the prophetic witness, and here we are in this country and you and I need to…I mean, I think it’s interesting that Paul said, pray for the gift of prophecy. Pray that you will see. Because you talked about, we’re always working at trying to get less blind. You’ll see that you’ll hear but here’s where I mean…Latasha, we need more of you. We need more prophetic people who have the courage to open up their mouth and speak. And this is one of the reasons I wrote the book was how can we be inspired to do the work today? And how can we learn to be courageous and bold? You know if you’re speaking just because you’re pissed at the world. I don’t know if you’re going to…I mean bringing peace? I mean, I’m angry. I’m going to be honest, I’m angry. But I’d like to believe that it is a righteous anger and that when I am speaking words that these words of peace that they’re disruptive, but their life giving. Because Jesus, Amos, you know, he disrupted at the moment. Jesus disrupted everything.
Latasha Morrison 17:37
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 17:37
And it’s like Latasha is coming again, man, she is such a big bummer. Like Latasha, I just want you to talk about this. Don’t get too far into this. Michelle, Michelle, we already know. We’ve labeled her Marxist; we’ve labeled her a socialists. She has gone against all the rules for white evangelical women. You know, like all of that cancelling out.
Latasha Morrison 19:02
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:02
This is the disruptive work of peace. Peace is not, we’re not doing peacekeeping. We’re doing peacemaking. And to be honest about what we see, to be courageous to hear the cries and sit in it, to hear the truth and sit in it, and then to activate what’s in our heart, and in our head from all we’ve been seeing and hearing and speak.
Latasha Morrison 19:25
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:26
And I don’t mean just commentating speak. And I could go on but I don’t think we have time for that.
Latasha Morrison 19:30
Yeah. And I mean, when we look through scripture, you see, you know, how the prophets were treated and what was said about them. You see how Jesus was treated.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:42
They murdered him.
Latasha Morrison 19:42
And what was said about Jesus. Yes. And tried to trick him and say things that he didn’t say. You know, like, and it’s just the very thing that we’ve seen with, you know, our modernized prophets, with King and Fannie Lou Hamer and just so many others before us. And even now. I mean, the good work, the Bible work that we do how it gets turned upside down and we get labeled. Okay, we’re talking about, both you and I are talking about restorative; we’re talking about restoration; we’re talking about redemption; we’re talking about reconciliation. We’re talking about things, like as we are disrupting, we’re also lifting. You know? And that’s what Jesus was doing. But people can change the narrative of that, and shift what we’re saying. So, like, that’s why, when people say, you know, how does that make you feel? People calling you everything but a child of God. And at some point you have to realize – not putting myself like, in no way is equal to what Jesus did and how the prophets walked – but it’s like, you know that if it was done to them. You know?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 19:44
Yes. Of course it’s not gonna go well for us.
Latasha Morrison 21:16
It’s not gonna go well for us. And so you count that cost. And I was just thinking when you were talking, when we were talking about Isaiah and it’s just like the first sermon that Jesus preaches that’s documented in Luke 4:18 is quoted from Isaiah. And you know, and how he said, “He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim the captives will be released. That the blind will see, and that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 21:58
Latasha Morrison 21:58
And he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down. Just, just, drop mic.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:07
I was going to say, we have made up a lot of things that what Jesus would do. Right? That’s what he wants us to do.
Latasha Morrison 22:14
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:15
And that’s what agents of peace in the world will do. For me, I pray that I will have the courage to be honest. And that I will not keep that truth suppressed.
Latasha Morrison 22:32
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:33
Life would look very, very different. You know, all of those “R” words that you kind of listed, restore and reconcile. I want to add repair.
Latasha Morrison 22:43
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:43
Because the work of repair is what a peacemaker runs to. And so, you know the word reparations is from the word repair.
Latasha Morrison 22:53
Yes. Repair. Repairers of the breach.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 22:54
I mean, we cannot dance around this idea of being repairers and wanting to do the work of reparations. I often will tell people, the reason that the subtitle of Join the Resistance is called Step into the Work of Kingdom Justice. First of all, I wish I’d had called it step up to the work, because it’s a heavy step up, because of the cost of it. But if falling out of bed in the morning was how you got repair, you know, like nobody rolls out of bed, “Oh, I just did some repair.” I mean, that would be so easy, it would have already been done. You cannot just roll out of bed and get what you hope for it. You have to take each growth and stretching step, believing that the spirit and the cloud of witnesses, both in the past and in the present, are going to lift you up. This work is never meant to be done alone. I mean, I think that’s why I love sharing space with you and other friends. It’s just like, oh, that’s right. I’m not alone. And certainly I never am really, I mean, I’m in my neighborhood, my community. But sometimes, you know, it’s just like, wow, this is really long. There’s another decade and it’s still not the level of change that I so long for. And so with the work, it’s almost like the lament and grief is, it expands as well. And I think that’s the courage of being honest. Like I cannot pretend like well I can’t see another thing? Oh, yes, you can see more. Because you know, that’s the depth of the truth. And in the depth of the truth, do I believe that Christ can comfort the depth of the grief and those who mourn? Oh, by the way, yes. He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” And so I think the shared journey is so important, because the work of repair needs so many people, and we need to keep helping each other up to that very high next step.
Latasha Morrison 24:47
Michelle, thank you. Thank you for your work. Thank you for your voice. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for sitting in these spaces and giving, using your voice for those that are unheard. I so appreciate it. I’m just thinking about just your history of work, how long that you’ve been working in this. And how you have used, leveraged your power. And I think about the trip to Oaxaca how you were bringing people along so others can see. And so much of what you do. This is definitely not a movement for you, but this is a lifestyle that you live.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 25:48
Latasha Morrison 25:48
And, I think that’s something that we encourage within Be the Bridge, this is not temporary work, but this is a lifelong work. And, you know, I say as long as I’m breathing, I can do something. And as long as I’m breathing, I will do something. And so, what are some things now that’s causing you to lament? What are some things that’s causing you to lament?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 26:21
We’re so far from where we hope we’ll be. You work and you see. It’s such a three steps forward, five steps back kind of work. And I think that’s the deep grief. One of my, you know, a group that I get to work with…I’m based in Denver, Colorado, and I’m, you know, I live in my community and join my community all the time. But I also love my company, I work nationally, and I work with communities and the community that I work with, and have had for the last couple of years, this contract is with Memphis, Tennessee. And here we’re doing all this racial unity and healing work. And, you know, we’ve got like 1400 pastors that are very representative of the city racial, you know, percentages, I guess you could say it seems. And then we just all navigated Tyre Nichols. You know, and the city is still in mourning. And the work that we had been doing, it’s just like, wow, you’re just back at it, like, did we make any progress? This is just so awful. And so it’s just one day after another. Another one of my friends and clients are in Florida. And we just finished working on a strategic campaign. There’s 2500 pastors in Florida that I get to work with and we’re just trying to make stronger pivots in the public square around systemic injustice and had been working, did all the right things, you know, had the right media hits, had the right legislative meetings, had the right number of people on a sign on letter. And still the man, the mentally ill man who was been on death row for 30 years was executed last Thursday, despite all the good. And at the same time, on the 23rd when he was executed, the governor of Florida put out the most egregious anti immigrant state legislation you probably have ever seen. And, at the same time, on that same day, on the 23rd, African American clergy were working in Tallahassee to try to get their history not completely erased from curriculum. So sometimes, so when you asked me what I lament, I lament the billows. You know, almost thinking about that It is Well, that chosen it is well, because when you see billows roll, they’re just rolling and rolling and rolling. And I’ve been in this work a long time. And I’m an architect of campaigns. I don’t, nobody needs to know who I am, I just want to make sure I have the right voice at the right place at the right time, so that we can try to leverage the most amount of change. And I mean, I already went through the Republican National Convention time and doing all these things around immigration. And I know, you know, back in 2015, 2016, when you and I were just getting to know one another, and I know that those billows are not going to change because right now the reason what’s happening in Florida, we’re seeing it in Texas, we’re seeing it in Tennessee, some of these egregious is like people are getting ready to run for president. And in one of the parties it’s like how awful can I be towards those in need of mercy? So I lament just the reality of injustice in a country that says that they want to be defined as liberty and justice for all. Okay. So that’s my lament. But my other lament is how detached the church is from the present pain of people and wanting to call a peace when there’s absolutely no peace. So I think, you know, those are really big things that I grieve and lament. Because I feel like our witness as Christians in the world is not credible, because we haven’t followed Jesus to liberate people like he said he came for the purposes of what you read in Luke four. Which means that’s why we are converting. Why else be Christian? If you’re not joining. So when I say we join Christ in His restorative work in the world, then we read Luke four. And one of the last, I don’t know, I’ll just I’ll just kind of, I won’t end this, but I’ll end this right here is, Matthew 25 is something that we probably need to read because it parallels.
Latasha Morrison 30:29
Yeah. It does.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 30:29
You know, it’s basically, “Make sure you have your oil, I’m coming back.” Like it’s the best ad for the parabels was, “I am coming back. You can remember I came one time, I’m coming back. And this is what I’m looking for. One, are you ready? Are you going to be out and distracted or will you have your oil? The second is you better invest something.” I got some talents here and you got some talents here and you got one talent here. And if you read my book, I talk about how the rich probably in the Christian world, they’re probably the one with one talent. But anyway, how are you going to invest it? Are you going to bury it? Or are you going to multiply this liberation that I’ve given you for the liberating of other people? Or are you going to bury it because you’re so afraid that it might not work or that you aren’t wanted? Or, you know, whatever I don’t, there’s lots of reasons I’m sure people bring to town, but don’t do that because there’s woes and warnings in that. And then the last one is the parable of the sheep and goats, which is basically if you understand what a child…this is the assignment, this is what you’re supposed to be doing. And if you don’t, it’s not gonna go well for you. It’s like, “Depart from me, you never even knew me.” Yeah, so I lament just don’t understand our assignment. Again. Like I said, the prophets were kind of crying out the same thing.
Latasha Morrison 31:43
So we got some homework.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 31:44
We’ve got some homework to do. I mean really.
Latasha Morrison 31:48
No, like, for real, like, if you’re listening to this, go back and read and ask the Lord to give you eyes to see in Matthew 25. Because some people read this and it’s words. Just ask Jesus to help you exegete the Scripture so that you can embody what is said.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 32:13
And go back and read Matthew 24, because that’s when he’s predicting he’s coming back. He’s gonna die and he’s gonna come back. And while I’m coming back, t his is What you’re supposed to do. This is the assignment.
Latasha Morrison 32:26
Do we know our assignment? Like, oh, my goodness, so good.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 32:30
All I know is Isaiah 58 and then again in Matthew, I think it’s 5:9, where he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” I would say children of God, be peace in the world so that you can actually earn the reputation. Like your behavior is in such a way, “Oh, that is a child of God.”
Latasha Morrison 32:46
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 32:50
Let that be your reputation?
Latasha Morrison 32:54
What are some things that’s giving you hope? What’s giving you hope? There’s so much to lament. But what is giving you hope? And then what is bringing you joy?
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 33:07
So hope is setting a vision of what can be. And I think the human spirit hopes, I don’t think that’s unique to Christians. But I do think Christians are supposed to have a shared hope. And just hope in itself gives me hope, that the future is not defined by today, and that you and myself and others we have the power to make things happen. And so it’s that potential. I was on I was on a panel, I’m at Denver seminary as an adjunct and sometimes they put me on panels on the side because they’re not really sure if they want me to say stuff because I’m scary. (laughter) But, you know, somebody had said, “I don’t have hope in politics.” Now you knew, I ran for US Senate. And, you know, everybody’s gonna think I have hope in politics. And I said, “You know, I appreciate what you said that you don’t put hope in politics. I don’t have hope in politics either. But I do have hope in people.”
Latasha Morrison 34:02
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 34:03
So I’m always going to have hope, because it’s a chosen hope to believe that the future is not defined by today and that we have the power to make things happen. As far as joy, in that book Join the Resistance, I tried to be as honest as possible. That’s like, my goal in life is to be as honest and vulnerable as possible. But that last chapter is actually called Rooted in Joy, because I talked about…and it’s interesting, because if you look at the dates, you’ll say, “Oh, Michelle, but we were in Oaxaca then. Oh, Michelle, you know, we were…” You’ll see it, because we do the work sometimes even if it’s detached from our joy. Right?
Latasha Morrison 34:42
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 34:42
And I was in bad shape 2017 and 2018 as far as in search of joy. And so I talked about that because I knew joy was a fruit of the Spirit. And so okay, what am I denying that the Holy Spirit cannot even fill my joy because I’m so, you know, unjoyful. And so I talk a lot about my journey. And so I will say that I have learned how, joy is a learned receiving. And the waters of joy are there. And in that particular stage of my life, I just realized that, “Yeah, you know, Michelle, you are mature, but you’re not mature enough. And your roots are deep, but they’re not deep enough.” You know the book I talk a lot about, I don’t talk about the book a lot in my class. But I have a picture of a tree in the rootedness. And I have somebody from my community, who drew a piece of art. Because really what we’re talking about is learning to root down for the long haul, and to root down and allow love and joy and peace and all those things to nourish us, so that we will not be moved in the midst of the most difficult and challenging seasons. So I would say, what gives me joy is the realization that joy is there for the taking, that I observe people experiencing joy, and when I don’t feel joy I need to root down. Because even during times of winter, trees’ roots grow, because they’re in search of water. It’s not the time that they grow the most. but they don’t stop growing in winter. They need to grow in winter in search of water, because it’s not coming in the same way as during the winter. And everything above the ground looks dead. And it isn’t until the spring that you can really see the life. And so I would say that I have to work hard to find joy in seasons of winter. But I believe that it is there. And so especially during this Lent season, I thank God for an opportunity to focus on my humanity. Because without the waters of the spirit, I will not have life.
Latasha Morrison 36:58
Whew. Michelle, you just disrupted everything. So good, so good. Oh, man. We’re gonna end it on that note because that right there is something for us to pause and think about. And I would love for you to pray us out. You’re familiar with our community. You have given so much that can really water our souls, but also give us next steps and just all the things that you said here today. And even with their encouragement. So I would love for you to say a prayer for our community as they’re listening.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 37:59
I’d be honored. You know, in each of the sections, I end with a prayer. And so I’m going to actually close us out with a prayer that is called Prophets of a Future Not our Own. It’s often referred to as the Prayer of Oscar Romero. So as my prayer for us all is that we would have the courage to open our eyes and stay in the truth of what we are seeing and have the courage to get up and do something with it. So I’ll just pray this prayer with us together. “It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that can be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces efforts, effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything. And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results. But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs; we are prophets of a future, not our own. Amen.”
Latasha Morrison 40:10
Amen. Amen. Thank you so much for joining us on the Be the Bridge Podcast. The book is Join the Resistance: Step into Good Work of Kingdom Justice. Step into the Good Work of Kingdom Justice. It released in October 2022. You can purchase that where books are sold. And I was honored to write the foreword and Dominique Gilliard wrote the afterword in the book. And I know throughout the book, Michelle at the end of each chapter, she has prayers, but she also has like a QR code for even songs and different things that she links to that work. So I do feel like this is a good book, a tool for the bridge builder that’s in our community. And so we’re grateful to have you, for joining us, you can follow Michelle on all the platforms. Those things will be in the show notes. And you can also watch all of this, I think this is going to be up on, our video is going to be up on YouTube. So maybe, I don’t think they can get the full version on YouTube, but probably a portion of it because I always go over time. (laughter) And so this is the extra, the bonus section. You know, the bonus section for the overachiever. But thank you so much for joining us on the Be the Bridge Podcast. We’re so grateful.
Michelle Ferrigno Warren 41:52
Latasha Morrison 41:54
So good. So good.
Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast. 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.
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