Thursday, December 13, 2012

Alaska: Polar Bears, Global Warming, and Preserving God’s Creation

When I got off the plane in Alaska I was excited to step into the cold walkway from the plane leading to the physical airport.  I took a deep breath looking like a child visiting a candy store for the first time. I had never been to Alaska:  I love experiencing new things and new places so I was intrigued, excited!  One of the first things I saw in the airport was a huge model of a white polar bear.  As I looked in the glass case the bear towered over me and though it was not alive, my heart skipped a beat.  As I continued to look closely at the bear, it’s white fur, tall and strong stature I started to see that this huge creature in essence embraced it’s own beauty.  As I walked away I kept these thoughts in mind.

I went to Alaska for a community organizing and advocacy gathering with the General Board of Church and Society for the United Methodist Church.  I am grateful.  The topic: Climate & Environmental Justice, Sustainable Development & Ministry With The Poor. There was so much wisdom and knowledge in the room of scholars, activists, ministers, educators, but I remembered one simple quote:  “If you want to know about the polar bears, ask the bears.”  This is what Rev. Ray, a clergyman, and native Alaskan said regarding polar bears and global warming in Alaska.

Before coming to this meeting I had never thought about how polar bears are affected by climate change.  I knew things about climate change:  the climate is getting warmer and warmer around the world, we should use alternative means of energy, fair trade is awesome, animals are effected.  But, how really is this issue-affecting animals and people whose livelihood come from the land and sea?

Ray stated the fact that polar bears are diminishing. How and Why?  Because of increased temperatures and global warming sea ice is melting and it can’t support the weight of the bear.  The melting of the ice is also impacting access and the numbers of the polar bear’s prey.  Walrus’, seals, and other animal’s livelihood are taken away causing strain on their ability to survive. 

Climate Change is also impacting the native people of Alaska.  Rev. Ray spoke about how the Native people of Alaska are subsistence hunters and fisherman (hunting, fishing, gathering berries and food).  Global warming impacts their ability to get meat, keep meat, house their berries, and survive.  These realities also affect folk spiritually and culturally. 

During the gathering I learned so much about the realities of global warming around the world. Some I knew, some I didn’t.  The reality of mountain top removal in the Appalachian Mountains and it’s impact on poor people.  The truth about islands in the Pacific Islands being submerged:  people’s homes going away with the ocean and families being displaced. I was reminded that families throughout the world who live off of the land, particularly throughout Africa, are suffering because of drought and inability to get a harvest off of their crops because of climate change. How fishing communities income and livelihoods in Grand Bayou, Louisiana are being impacted negatively.  Global warming affects the privileged at times, but it is communities who are poor who bear the brunt of climate change.

As I write this and reflect I am working to make sense of this myself.  I am privileged in many ways. I drive a car, I have air condition and heat, I am able to purchase groceries from the store, and I can take long hot showers amongst other things. However, I am challenging myself and also anyone who reads this to think twice about how we use what we have.  Here is a couple of sites with helpful tips:

Here are some quick tips I took from the above sites: 

1. Replace a regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
2. Recycle
3. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning
4. Do not leave appliances on standby
5. Drive Smart
6. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
7. Use Less Hot Water
8. Turn stuff off!
9. Plant a Tree
10. Reuse your shopping bag

Genesis 1:1 reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The text goes on to speak about God’s creation of the land, sea, animals, sky, seasons and the list illustrates the beauty of God’s creation. Bill McKibben, founder of, noted that global warming today is like Genesis 1 running backwards.  Yikes!

Intense blog, right?!  But, really, I am encouraging us both to think about the polar bears and how the issue of global warming affects animals, the land, the sea, and people in harsh ways.  We can start helping one light bulb at a time!

What do you all think about the issue of Global Warming and Climate Change? 

In Peace,


Monday, November 19, 2012

Hawaii The Beautiful and The Truth About Militarization and Colonization

Last week I was privileged to visit the beautiful island O'ahu in Hawaii.  On Tuesday I volunteered with a friend of a friend at the ocean; they say it was actually a pond!  For 3 and a-half hours we moved large rocks as a 13 person team to build a rock wall. For me this was labor intensive! The wall was built so that the employees of the pond could see the height of the water as it related to the ocean current. 

The rain fell upon us on the chilly, yet gorgeous night. As I looked down the shining rock wall and assembly line team I smiled.  I saw much beauty in the teamwork happening.  The team was passing rocks, building, laughing, joking, and setting a rock foundation. I was inspired. 

At the end of the building I wanted to take a picture of the rock wall.  Not because I was a tourist, but because the wall was extraordinarily beautiful.  I wanted to remember it.  As I got one of the women to use her cell phone to take the picture, a native Hawaiian laughed and said, “humph, tourists!”  I thought to myself, “Me, a tourist!”  My heart started to beat a little faster.  Without hesitation I said, “ If I were a normal tourist do you really think I would have spent my evening in the cold rain in the ocean moving super large rocks?  If I were here as a tourist I would be at a nice resort right now drinking a pina colada.” 

He looked at me and laughed noting, “You tourists like doing things like this to make you feel as if you are one of us.”  My presence seemed to disturb him. The people around kept silent.  Some people laughed with him, others looked at me with distanced concern.  For some reason I knew I needed to take a deep breathe and simply keep silent. So, I did.  In my mind I thought, “I never want to feel like I am anyone else other than myself.”  I walked away thinking, “Why would he seem so offended by my presence?  Who and what did I represent for him?   If I represented “tourist” for him, what did I trigger?”

I went to Hawaii for an advocacy and organizing meeting with the General Board of Church and Society for the United Methodist Church. The topic for the meeting was “immigration & global migration” and “indigenous peoples & Native peoples/Native Hawaiians.”  Within our organizing meetings I learned quite a lot from the Native Hawaiians who were present.  These insights helped me understand the young man at the pond’s reaction towards me a bit more. 

In the 1890’s the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown and with this reality and others Hawaii was colonized. This affected Native Hawaiin’s land, language, and culture. Can you imagine having all that you know stripped away from you?  Intense!  Since then the US military has taken over a large percentage of the Hawaiian land. The Native people of Hawaii considered much of which sacred. Highways have been built, military bases have been built, and migration to Hawaii continues to rise. 

As a result of militarization and colonialism native Hawaiian people’s cultural survival was and is impacted.  Native Hawaiians spirituality and livelihood is directly connected to the land. When this was taken away this impacted and is still impacting the community.  This is shown in high rates of homelessness, school drop out rates, higher infant mortality rates and the list goes on.

After digesting these realities I could now see how the native Hawaiian brother from the pond would feel a certain way about my presence at the pond.  Often times I go into other contexts as a visitor not knowing the history of systemic oppression that the native people have suffered.  His feelings were not just about me. I do believe for him the pond, the rocks, the ocean, the land these spaces were sacred for him and his ancestors. As an American, a “tourist," maybe for him I represented an invasive presence.  And if that was the reality, I have to give respect to this gentleman and his ancestors.  Maybe instead of me reacting, I could have fostered dialogue or maybe in that moment it was best to respect this brother and simply walk away. 

During our organizing and advocacy meetings there were several men and women working to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom.  They worked to embrace the language and teach, share the rituals with the next generation, preserve the land and culture. Though there was the reality of hurt sometimes present in their voices as they spoke there was a sense of power, passion, persistence, and perseverance that was inspiring. 

When visiting a new place I know it’s not always possible to learn the history of a specific context, but one thing I do know is that there are always systems of oppression at work.  Now, if I was to ever see the Hawaiian brother again I would be able to listen to his truth more, instead of making my own assumptions.  Mark 12: 31 notes, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these.” Hawaii is a beautiful island, but the native Hawaiian language, spirituality, land, and culture are even more beautiful. This is what deserves to be respected and preserved!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What My First Modeling Gig Taught Me: Smile and Think On Good Things

Yesterday was my first modeling gig booked by an agency.  It was for a Walt Disney catalogue!  When people work for Disney they look at this online catalogue to see how their costume should fit. When looking at the catalogue they will now see my model friend Chad and I!  I was a bit nervous about what they would dress me in, but it was actually a lot of fun.  I played dress up with a photographer and Disney crew for 5 and half hours.  And in the spirit of Disney I had to smile.  I remember in a counseling class I was told that people could smile solely with their eyes.  At the photo shoot it was important for me to smile with both my mouth, eyes; actually my entire face.

This continuous smiling caused me to be mindful about my thoughts. I had to stay positive about what I allowed to go through my mind.  My thoughts would often stray to relationship realities, stress, and life obstacles. But, when my thoughts shifted to these things I could feel the frown, the un joyful smile, the fake smiley eyes presenting themselves before the camera.  At times I had to force myself to think on good things. It was when I thought on good things that I allowed myself to enjoy the present. The beautiful costumes, the bright lights, the nice people. 

In life there are so many things that can bother us daily.  For some weeks I have been contemplating a recent relationship that was broken.  I reflected: “Did I make a mistake?  Should I have done this?  Should I have done that? Is it too late? What can I do?  Are they ok? Has my path been altered? Where should I go?  What do I need to do?

It is often imperative that we face our realities in order to move forward, however, it is also important to take the time to think on good things. Otherwise, life will overwhelm us.  We have to take things one-step at a time.  One day at a time. One hour at a time. Sometimes one minute at a time.  When things overwhelm us it shows up in our spirit, which reflects in our face, our eyes, our smile. 

When life gets you down and your face is showing it try to smile anyway.  This modeling gig taught me that when my mind stays thinking about the negative, smiling and thinking on good things could bring light into my spirit and heart.  

Philippians 4: 8 notes, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)

Brothers and sisters, smile and think on good things!  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Job Fair: Remembering You Are Not Just A Number

I remember the excitement of getting into college.  I was going to attend one of the best public universities in North Carolina.  I heard great things about the school, but I also heard that I would just be a number.  “There are over 25,000 people at the university.  Your professors are not going to know you. You are just a number in the midst of a crowd of people.”  On my first day of class I remember getting a Personal ID Number.  I thought, well maybe they are right. I am just a small number at this big university. Or am I a special, unique, individual who has the ability to be a great student?

The other day I went to a job fair.  The line to enter was wrapped around the building. I could not help but question: within this job market am I just a number or am I really special?  What will I allow myself to believe? As I entered the large conference room with hundreds of job seekers and about 80 employers I thought about this job fair as a microcosm of the world. 

There are probably millions of people on this planet without a job and there are also millions of people on this planet who are unique, super talented with amazing gifts.  This world is extremely big and stepping out into it can cause one to feel vulnerable, anxious, and doubtful as if we are just a number in this big bad world.  But even in the midst of anxiety we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 14).   We all have gifts.  Each has received a gift (1 Peter 4: 10).

In life there are sometimes trials and circumstances that cause us to move away from our gifts.  Sickness, layoffs, depression, foreclosure, unhealthy relationships, unplanned pregnancies, death, divorce, fatigue, laziness, and the list go on.  But, what do we do with our lives when unforeseen circumstances and trials come our way?  Do we give up on our gifts and dreams or do we put our faith into action, use our gifts, and push to be the best we can be?

God believes that we are so special he calls us by our name (Isaiah 43:1), not just a number. This is true at the university, job fair, on your current job, or anywhere else.  If God believes that we are so special, we must also believe this for ourselves.  In the movie, The Help, the main character would often tell a small child:  You are kind, smart, and important.  It’s true, believe it, don’t’ give up, keep pushing!

Be Encouraged,
Argrow ‘Kit” Evans

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Out Of The Grey Area Of Love!

The other night I had a dream. I was looking into the ocean, but it was not the beautiful aqua blue ocean I have grown to love. It was grey with clouds drapping over it like chalk. Goats and some animals unfamiliar to me walked slowly out and away from the ocean as if they had become distressed, weary, and unclear by this literally grey area of their life.

This grey area seems all to familiar to me; especially as it pertains to relationships. The older I get the more I am realizing that love does not live in the grey. You either love someone or you let it go. You do or you don’t. You say yes or you say no. You enjoy or you dislike.

So many times I feel like people convince themselves to stay in relationships by living in the grey area. But, love does not live in the distressed, weary, mucky grey area. Love is light. It is about receiving, giving, sharing, trusting, and taking chances.

When I think about love I am reminded of a church service I went to about 6 years ago. There was a female preacher standing at the alter. Within seconds of the alter call annoucement a tall, slender man came walking down the aisle. He seemed very weak. As he walked it was clear to see that his legs were getting weaker and weaker. The minister in the pulpit saw this. As the man was about to fall in the aisle, the pastor leaped over the alter and ran down the aisle to catch him. She caught him with love in her hands before he could hit the floor. This is love.

The pastor extended her hands to another without living in the grey. She could have hesitated or waited for someone else to assist the man, but she acted out of love and took a chance to catch the man.

Love is special. It holds us up when we are weak and gives us light whenever there is darkness. I am no expert on love, but what I do know is that love does not live in the grey. It gives us the guts to be selfless enough to catch someone else, someone we choose to love.

In Peace,

Argrow "Kit" Evans

Sunday, March 18, 2012

TRANSITIONS: Spider Webs or Eagles' Wings?

Do you all remember getting your report card every 9 weeks in grade school? I would work hard each term to make good grades so I could receive my mother’s praise or that extra $5.00 as a reward. I recall the last 9 weeks of the year being the best! Summer was coming, I would get a school break, and I would even be moved to the next grade level. It was a new season of life. Sometimes I was so excited to move to the next grade, but often times I was also afraid of this move. Would I be good enough? Would they like me? Would I know anyone? Would I make friends? Could I handle the work? There were so many things that were unknown.

Well, friends, in 9 weeks I will complete graduate school and transition into a season of life that I have never fully experienced. No more summer grade school breaks. No more semester academic report cards. Career, family, relationships, dreams, goals, business, slowing metabolism, 30’s, friendships, children, work, full time. The unknown, yet known list continues. I ask myself: “Kit, how do I put transitions into perspective?”

One of the first images I think about is a spider web. This year spider webs have been all over Berkeley, California and I have walked into quite a few. When I walk into the spider web it is because I have not seen it coming. I get tangled in it. They cover my head, hands, and sometimes, additional parts of my clothing and body. It really does turn into a mess! Do I allow life transitions to imitate walking into the mess of a spider web? Do I walk into the web of life and allow myself to get tangled in an unhealthy way?

I ask myself: “Kit, how do I put transitions into healthy perspective?”

Isaiah 40: 28-31 is encouraging. “God will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

What I am realizing is that if we don’t give up God will give us the strength to spread our wings like eagles in our families, career, and relationships. Eagles can fly up to 15,000 feet high for long periods of time without fainting because it is their strength and wingspan that propels them. The word says that God has given us this type of strength to tap into. We don’t have to embrace the spider webs of life and get all tangled in the mess that can come with transitions.

In the midst of transition I encourage you to know that we never have to choose fear, confusion, hurt, and despair. If we trust in something beyond ourselves, I believe God has the power to assist us in living the “good life” that he has called us to. So spread those wings that God has given you and move forward in this season of life! God has your back, God has our back!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Making Sense of the Bible: What Grandma and Seminary Taught Me

As I enter into last semester of seminary I find myself finally making sense of the deconstruction and reconstruction of my meaning making, especially as it relates to the Bible.

I was born and raised in a small southern town in North Carolina, where my grandma was the epitome of a “good Christian woman.” I remember a vivid picture of her. Grandma is sitting on her porch with a Bible in one hand, and another Bible under her chair. She is studying the text with her glasses on while also eating a fresh tomato sandwich. The person taking the picture calls her name and she delights in looking at the camera with a beautiful smile. Grandma loved people, God, and reading the Bible.

Grandma lived to be 70 years old; however, she suffered several heart attacks, strokes, and the amputation of her leg. But, through it all, she still professed her trust in God and her strong belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible. My grandmother was my connection to Christianity. She was also the connection that linked me to the African Methodist Episcopal Church I grew up in.

I entered seminary embracing all that my grandmother and the church had taught me. Scripture was the word of God and should not be questioned. It was “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path,” which guided my daily life.

I never thought that after my first semester of seminary I would literally be knocked off of my feet. After my Old Testament and New Testament classes all that I thought I knew about the Bible was put on an operating table and dissected. Who “really” wrote each book in the Bible? Did God influence each book? Where did the manuscripts come from? What is the social, historical, and political context of each book in the Bible?

I went from sleeping in the bed with my Bible for comfort to putting it on my bookshelf and only taking it out for church and Old Testament class on Mondays. I felt as if I had to choose one or the other: look at the Bible critically or accept the Bible as the word of God, without question. There seemed to be no in between.

Over the last 3 years I have worked to find the in between. There is not one perfect copy of the Bible: true. Every version is based on a variety of manuscripts: true. Scripture has a variety of social, political, and historical contexts, which should not be taken literally in today’s contexts: true.

Beyond all the dissection and healthy questioning I have concluded that by understanding the social, political, and historical context of the Bible I am allowed to “dig deeper” into the meaning of scripture. Though the people in the Bible lived in different contexts from us today we can learn a lot from the teachings within the Bible and can often apply the teachings to our lives as we presently live them.

When I read scripture now I have a new lens, one that allows me to look into the text and understand the context of what lies beneath. Thank you, seminary! When I read scripture now, I also have a lens that allows me to receive the sacredness of this text that my grandmother and so many before her knew very well. Thank you, grandma!

As I enter 2012 I can say that my Bible is no longer on my bookshelf. It lies next to my bed, on the nightstand!