“That’s the disease some boys said was in South Carolina now!” fourteen year-old Emma exclaimed, following a radio news story about a man in Texas hospitalized with the Ebola virus. “First of all, don’t believe anything middle school boys say,” I said for the hundredth time. “Second, that story is about a man in Texas who came from Liberia to visit his family.” Then we talked about Ebola, why western Africa is particularly susceptible, how the disease impacts more than just the sick people because it disrupts school, work, and access to food. I told her about friends who are helping (through the Liberian Baptist Seminary and CBF).
From the Ebola conversation Emma declared that she wants to go on a mission trip to another country. Because Emma values differing languages and cultures as well as any 8th grader I know, she understands how important it is for Americans to listen and honor the countries they visit as missionaries. We talked about times when trying to help can actually hurt (I told stories like you can hear here). It was cool to hear her heart for others as an expression of her faith.
Back on the radio, the local morning show guys led a conversation comparing a “size 12 woman” and a “size 20 woman.” How much larger is one than the other? Should they work out (not for health sake but appearance sake)? Within the hour the hosts also confessed that they track a female coworker’s “PMS” on a calendar. They implied she is a less capable worker a few days a month. Emma learned the word “misogyny” on our ride though I suspect with “entertainment” like this she’ll be very familiar with its experience.
I am blessed to serve among CBF folks, and Emma is blessed to worship in a CBF-partner church, that honors the callings and lives of women and men as we respond to people in crisis with faithful and culturally sensitive missions and ministry. I’m sure no one gets it right all the time, but being among these folks has helped me have the right conversations with Emma.