Stacey Shields and Rosie Armstrong live in Las Vegas, Nevada and participate in a Be the Bridge group together.  Their affection for one another is obvious when they speak about each other.  We are so grateful they have decided to partner together and make a tangible difference in the fight for justice and reconciliation.  Here is more of their story:

How did you and your partner meet?

(Stacey)  About a year ago, I was in a women’s Bible study and it was an amazing, diverse group of women. But even so, after several months, race had never come up in conversation. Then, one day as we were packing up to end our meeting, someone made a comment about their dad‘s feelings about the NFL kneeling situation and one of our older, usually very reserved, African-American women slammed her hands on the table and said “We need to talk about this!” And so we did.

We talked about racism, and how racial tension, privilege, and systemic injustices are never spoken of in the church. It’s the elephant in the room and never gets addressed. We talked about how as followers of Jesus we should be leading this conversation instead of avoiding it. So, at the end of that Bible study, I suggested continuing to meet and discussing Be the Bridge Discussion Guide. Six of us decided to continue, and brought along 10 other friends.

My friend Rosie, who was not part of the original Bible study, was someone I valued deeply as a friend and a strong African-American voice.  She agreed to be co-leader with me and it has deepened and cemented our friendship.

How has the Be the Bridge discussion group impacted you?

(Rosie)  When I went to the meeting for the first time, I had no clue that God was going to move me to co-lead with Stacey.  I was so excited that a group of women from my church were doing something like this and I got to be a part of it.  But, God had deeper plans for me that included “opening my eyes” and really studying our history…and paying more attention to our present.  In doing so, the burdens resurfaced, as well as the sorrow, frustration, anger, and hopelessness.

I, even as a woman of color, was blinded, or chose to suppress the reality of racial issues.  Instead, I tried to look at the good in everyone as a “way out” of the conversation.  But, doing this means that I missed working toward real change. Within a few short months, it was becoming difficult to remain optimistic.  God reminded me that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  And if He can love that way for me, than I can absolutely do that for others.

I am grateful that I can share how I feel and about my experiences with sisters in Christ, like Stacey, and others in the group.  Although it’s difficult for me as a woman of color, we walk through this together with complete honesty and love and I’m strengthened by the open hearts of the women in my group. I am also encouraged by what God is doing through Jen, Latasha, Be the Bridge, and many other groups of people that believe the best way to do this is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It has ignited a fire in me to do the work no matter the cost only because Christ paid so much more!

(Stacey)  Our group gets together once a month and we laugh, cry, celebrate, and lament together.  We see each other for social events, let our children play together, and our husbands fellowship. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of.  We see the ripples of impact of what we are discussing on our marriages, our friendships, and even influence in our church community.  We are all so excited about what God is doing and the impact our group could possibly have.

Left to Right: Cheryl, Rosie, Stacey, Jessica, Nikki, and Cerigywn. Rosie + Stacey's Bridge group.

Left to Right: Cheryl, Rosie, Stacey, Jessica, Nikki, and Cerigywn. Rosie + Stacey’s Bridge group minus a few other women.

Why did you decide to join the Race to Austin?

(Rosie)  I would love to meet Latasha and Jen!  Whether or not that happens for us (which of course we hope and pray it does!) is a secondary desire. My Be the Bridge group has changed the way I see the world.  God calls us to action and out of our gratefulness and desire to see other lives changed, we need to fundraise!

(Stacey)  I have been a huge fan of Jen Hatmaker for a long time, and have really grown to love and admire the work that Tasha Morrison is doing through Be the Bridge.  Meeting them would be amazing for Rosie and I, but I also think it could have a positive impact on our group.  It would be absolutely amazing to meet Jen and Tasha and to talk with them about their work in racial justice.

Why is it important to give to Be the Bridge?

(Rosie) One of the biggest reasons I believe we should give to Be the Bridge is not only for our eyes to be opened, but for the next generation! With technology and social media at the forefront, what a time to be alive!  The generations after us has a huge opportunity to use technology for God’s Glory.  I like the way Be the Bridge is using technology to educate and work toward racial reconciliation. In addition to words and actions, the reality is that it takes money to empower a ministry! We have work to do!

(Stacey) I hope that people will give because there is so much work to be done within the church in the area of racial reconciliation. It is rarely mentioned or acknowledged because many people are uncomfortable and don’t know how to talk about it.

Having a guided discussion allows people to dive in and learn and grow and hopefully even heal. The Be the Bridge Facebook discussion group provides so much information and I have learned so much from it.  I am also excited and hopeful about developing programs in the future for high schoolers and youth -that would be so amazing!  I want to help in any way I can to make that happen. But it won’t happen without our support!

To donate to Rosie + Stacey’s campaign, click here.

group photo