I’ve written on this blog a few times about my own sweet mother; her strength, sacrifice, work ethic, and most importantly, her unswerving love for me, her only son. Today I want to write briefly about another powerful woman in history, not often talked about.

Jochebed is the mother of Moses: the father of the first civil rights movement. She’s only mentioned by name twice in the Torah (Exodus 6 and Numbers 26). But her most famous deed is described in Exodus 2.

Not much is told about her life except that her father was Levi, she married Amram, and gave birth to Aaron, Miriam, and Moses.

She delivered Moses when the Pharaoh was known to have gone on a murderous spree of newborn Hebrew boys. So what did she do? She did all she could to hide her son for 3 months. Something any mother who’d carried a child for 9 months wouldn’t think twice about doing knowing their child had the potential for something. That’s something my own mother always saw in me…the potential to make a difference. She didn’t know how, but she knew she owed me that chance.

Break//Break: Shout out and thank you to every mother who chooses to give their child up for adoption. You are modern day Jochebeds!

Under what could only be described as the most difficult of circumstances, she did any and everything to hide Moses for 3 months until she couldn’t. Then like many mothers, her desperation moved her into Phase II planning.

She devised a bold plan to send her son, not away from danger, but right into the lion’s den: Pharaoh’s palace! She went into MacGyver mode and built a basket out of some weird stuff. She placed him in it and floated him in the direction of Pharaoh’s daughter at a time when she knew the princess would be out for a swim or bath with her crew. Understanding the plan, his sister Miriam turned into a Navy Seal and followed the basket from afar. After the princess’ team discovered the basket with a crying Hebrew baby boy, the princess’ heart strings were pulled and she decided to keep the baby…Miriam the Navy Seal emerges almost immediately. I can’t even fathom the bravery it took for her to show up at the palace pool. Miriam suggests to the princess and her staff that she knows a Hebrew woman that can help nurse the baby for the princess. Why? God forbid an Egyptian would nurse a Hebrew boy knowing Pharaoh was killing them left and right. Don’t think Pharaoh didn’t hear about this new development. But like any father with a daughter, he definitely did not want to upset his princess…I guess.

Tell me this isn’t God doing what God does best: Orchestrate the improbable and “make our enemies our footstool.” Not only was Miriam’s plan approved, the princess PAID Jochebed to raise her own son!!

In doing so, Moses got the chance to be raised in a financially secure, humble Hebrew home where his identity would be secured and the tools he would need to usher in the Hebrew rights movement and emancipation would be instilled in him. Then of course he’s sent back to the palace when he’s of age. Think about Moses’ life in the palace: As a Hebrew boy, He wasn’t Egyptian enough and as an Egyptian “prince”, he wasn’t Hebrew enough. Plus, all his would-be Hebrew friends were killed at birth. It had to have been a lonely existence.

Jochebed didn’t know what Moses’ purpose would be; but because of her, 400 years of Hebrew slavery ended in the most spectacular story of the Old Testament: the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea.

To all the mothers raising young Kings; suffering through the trials of societal oppression, making sacrifices to their own health, sanity, and personal aspirations, Jochebed’s story should serve as an encouragement on this 2019 Mother’s Day: Your effort will not be in vain.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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CME Christians

Tomorrow, all over the world, Christians will celebrate the basis of their faith: Their belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What will be interesting is that those believers will compete with a crowd of visitors for parking and seats in the pews. Extra chairs will be brought out to accommodate the crowd and churches will push the envelop on fire code violations.

These visitors are those who only attend three services a year:


Mother’s Day


I’ve always been curious as to why that is. Why only those three days? And in many cases, it’s a “dress-up” day as well. What is it about non-attendees that makes these three days in particular worthy of their presence in church?

Tradition? Family? Culture? Peer Pressure? What is the church not doing for the other 49 (or so) Sundays?

Not sure that I have a good answer but I do know if those visitors have enough faith and belief to be present on those days (very important ones I might add), then it should go without saying that other Sundays shouldn’t be any different. The same Jesus is being celebrated. The same God is being worshipped. The same preacher is delivering a sermon. And the same “sick” people are there in need of a savior who suffered, bled, was crucified, and raised from the dead and is seated at the right Hand of God that all might have everlasting life.

I’m just saying.

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Expectations: Are they Dead or Alive?

Ever get so used to not having your expectations met you just settle because it hurts less to do so?

I’m reminded of a story in the Bible of a crippled man who visited the temple daily begging for alms. For years he probably wanted to walk but got to a point where he settled for just enough to eat.

Do you ever start creating minor contentment packages just to meet a smaller need since you don’t expect the main need to be met? Like dating a not-so-good someone because you hate being lonely. Or blogging because no one would ever want to publish that book idea you’ve always had? Or even making excuses for that someone not rising to the level you’d expect so you turn negatives into an acceptable norm: “at least she’s not doing drugs!” Wait, what?!

This is where the crippled man was until he met Peter and John. The story is told in the book of Acts Chapter 3. He begged them for alms but they had other plans. They didn’t have any money to give him and more importantly they offered more than “thoughts and prayers.”

You know how we can be when people we know fall on hard times. We offer to pray since that costs us nothing. Peter and John gave him more than prayer…they healed him in the name of the One who heals. But what struck me was what they did next: They took him by the right hand and “raised him up;”

Those who claim to be believers must be more than just prayer warriors. They must physically “lift people up”…get them the help they really need and not just the temporal aid they’re asking for.

Don’t just buy a happy meal for a homeless person, take them to get fresh clothes, drive them to the job placement center and help them “learn to fish” or fend for themselves. I’ve seen many on social media capturing videos of themselves buying food for the homeless and then relishing the good publicity it brings.

Don’t just invite a lost person to your church; meet their deepest need by connecting, being real, and remaining relevant; basically, let them see the church in you!

It appears many in the western church have abdicated their responsibility to love actively. It prefers to be judgmental and ideological like the Pharisees of old…even when they pray in public! It needs to model the model…be the Good Samaritan…be Christ at the well…be Peter and John at the gate called Beautiful.

If your handicap is loneliness, know that you’re never really alone. You are already loved unconditionally and simply need to receive and accept said grace. If it’s unmet expectations, there’s One who can give “exceedingly above all we could ever ask or imagine.” If its unrealized dreams, then marinate in the fact that “He knows the plans He has for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you hope and a future.”

Expectations: rise up and walk!

Reference: Acts 3:1-10

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How Great Thou Art

This was the view from my terrace this evening. It gave me such great peace and reminded me of a song my mum used to sing to me as a kid:

“O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art…”
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Cudde: 8 Years Ago Today

I’ve written in the past about losing someone in the line of duty. The scars are still there. Zac Cuddeback was tragically killed while picking up troops at Frankfurt International Airport.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I wear a bracelet in his memory. And today, March 2nd marks 8 years since the event that ended his life and change mine and many others for ever. This year he would have turned 30. I wonder where he would have been in life. Doing great things I’m sure…putting smiles on people’s faces, playing ice hockey.

I ran a 5K in his memory this morning then boarded a flight for Doha to spread the gospel of logistics to deployed troops. But the whole time his memory will be front and center.

As much as his memory remains, I know his family hurts even more from his tragic demise. We’ve all moved forward but haven’t forgotten. Many in military logistics will remember “Cudde”. He left his fingerprint on our lives and every year we’ll work our darnedest to keep his memory alive. Buildings have been named after him; 5Ks are run in his honor; dollars are donated in his name for worthy causes; and we all endeavor to be better to ensure he didn’t die in vain.

Zac…I know you’re having a blast singing praises to God in heaven. We will see each other again. When that happens, we have a ping-pong game to finish. Believe I was winning. Your serve!

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Perspective: Undefeated!

I read this verse today and immediately wondered how actual slaves in the U.S. felt as they learned to read and came across this verse in the Bible.

They had to have felt it went against their physical reality as slave masters used the same Bible to justify their enslavement. Even going as far as deeming them less than human. But then here is an all-knowing God telling them they are heirs.

How did it change their perspective? Did they walk differently? Talk differently? Did they doubt every time their masters lashed out? Did they doubt God’s words?

What do we do today when God’s word doesn’t match our physical reality? When God says “you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength” yet you remain physically weak.

When God says He “shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory” and yet you can’t afford rent.

I believe the challenge we face is when we attempt to apply a physical perspective to a divine being. God is who He says He is and can do all He says He will do and then some. God is not limited by the physical but transcends all dimensions.

Today marks the last day of Black History Month in the U.S. African-Americans, descendants of slaves, are legally free. It took centuries, but the Emancipation Proclamation occurred. It took God’s hands and feet on earth to make that happen…and it did.

Hebrew slavery in Egypt lasted 400 years and it took God’s hands and feet and a staff held by Moses to end it.

Our personal persecutions will end…in God’s time, not ours. Our perspective should be to align ourselves with The One who owns the battle and is eternally undefeated.

I’m grateful for the storms of life. They’ve shaped my story and given me the data I need to confirm that God is indeed undefeated!

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They say if you want to know your priorities, look at where and what you spend money on. Ouch!

Your register will reflect “must pays”…bills you have to pay, the “can pays”…things you should spend money on…and “want to pays”…things you desire.

In this age of smart phones, I would offer that the pages of your phone screen also reflect your priorities. What does yours look like?:

That first page reflects the primacy of things in your life. Whether it’s connecting with people, listening to music, connecting with people, or reading your bible, it’s all on that page. It could also be shopping, spending money, or playing sudoku.

It’s all there. By the way, this is not a judgement on how we organize our lives…it’s simply an opportunity to reassess our priorities.

Recommend we all conduct a self-check on our priorities and ask ourselves what is the most important thing to us. There is no right answer…just an opportunity to ask ourselves why we do what we do.

I’ve been doing that lately…asking myself “why” before most decisions. Frequently it leads to a different choice all together. Many times it reveals that my choices are based on some pre-existing insecurity. I’ve ended up saving tons as a result. Hope this works for you as well.

3-2-1 go!

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Heaven [actually] Helps Those who Can’t Help Themselves

In keeping with the theme of things Christians say that have no scriptural basis, one of them is “heaven helps those who help themselves.” This is actually an attitude you see displayed in some political arguments today. The helpless are deemed “lazy” for not rising out of poverty on their own. 

I’ve been guilty of this sentiment at times especially following my assimilation to an individualist vs. collectivist culture. I have to check myself when this happens to see how “helpful” I’ve been. Especially when other sentiments like “if you don’t work you don’t eat” also arise. Then I consider realities like “grace”, “opportunity”, and “”systematic discrimination” and realize “but for the grace of God go I.” 

I’ve been blessed beyond measure. But for God’s providence, I too would be helpless and have been more times than I care to mention. I remember the movie “Trading Places” starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd. A simple dollar bet changed the lives of both men forever. Rendering one helpless and the other with unimaginable means. So where does this phrase come from? Not the Bible. It was originally woven into an Aesop fable.

Aesop weaved it into the tale of the Waggoner stuck on a muddy road. The Waggoner prays to Hercules for help to which Hercules essentially responds that:  “The gods help them that help themselves.” In the west it was popularized by Benjamin Franklin:

I won’t go into a deep exegesis but let’s just conclude that everything in the Bible points to the opposite. 

Too many examples in the old and New Testament. Abraham’s wife Sarah, the Israelites escaping Pharaoh’s wrath; the woman with a small jar of oil but near death and saved by the prophet Elisha; the woman caught in adultery; the wedding family who ran out of wine in Cana; Naaman the leper; the woman at the well; the thief on the cross desperately in need of salvation; or all of us entangled in a vice. 

If we could help ourselves, we wouldn’t need the One who created us in the first place and His sacrifice would have been in vain.  Whether you’re a person of means or not, you’ll agree there are times you haven’t been in control nor able to help yourself. That feeling when you’ve done everything you can and the answer is still NO! That inability to land the job, the loan, or get over an addiction. Helplessness is real and we need help to overcome.  It took divine intervention every time. 

I heard a testimony from a 92-year old this weekend who’d been struck with an unexplainable ailment 20 years ago. Expert doctors did all they could. She’d been declared brain dead, been in an induced coma for weeks, but then recovered and endured months of rehab. Her description of heaven rocked me to my core. I wanted to be there. It reminded me clearly that heaven does help the helpless. And when God moves, we’re never able to take the credit. At the end of the struggle we’re handed a proverbial megaphone to share our testimonies.

So, what does this mean for us? 

1. We will all experience helplessness on this side of heaven.

2. When we do, know that we are not alone.

3. The purpose of our existence is to be God’s hands and feet on earth.

4. Every testimony of helplessness was met with an earthen vessel that provided help and/or hope.

5. Our purpose is to be available for use by the creator.

Bottom line: Be Available to Help the Helpless…your turn will come!

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It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

When I was 10 years young I announced to my parents that I wanted to attend a military boarding school in Nigeria. If you’re reading this and are American you’re probably wondering why I made such a choice. No, I wasn’t trying to “run away” from home. I was actually thrilled at the opportunity (I’ll probably detail the experience in a future blog post). 

My parents supported the decision and were probably comforted knowing they had close friends in the area that would watch out for me and give me a home away from home during approved outings when we were allowed to leave the base. That family did look out for me and I love them for it!

Fast forward 7 years and the same thing happened when I arrived in the US as a teenager. My “uncle” and “aunty” in NC looked out for me throughout my college years…and I love them for it!

Today I had lunch with the sons of close friends attending college in the area. They appreciated it and I know my friends do too. 

My son will be attending college this fall and there are friends in the area who will do the same. Grandparents will be 4 hours away too. Score! 

I believe this long standing tradition is vital when our offspring are far away from the nest. A village we’ve cultivated over the years to continue what parents have started to help guide and cultivate the next generation. 

Universities are a testing ground for whatever you’ve instilled in your kids. They will make mistakes. If you can’t be there to love on them immediately after they fall…it helps to have a village that will.

God I thank you for teaching us to connect horizontally with others. Those connections are lifelong relationships that will impact generations, secure our legacies, and further Your Kingdom. 

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God Don’t Like Ugly! Or Does He?

Today I’ve been thinking about things Christians say that have no scriptural basis. Phrases like ”heaven helps those who help themselves” or “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. The one that really got my attention was “God don’t like ugly” because I was thinking it.
Wait! What?! Off course he does! He loves me even when I’m cloaked in the ugliness of sin.
We use the phrase when we think Karma has prevailed or when we believe someone should let go of anger and resentment.  I get it, we want justice to be blind and resentment & anger can be toxic to our spirit. However, I’m always leery about telling God what to do. I exist for His purpose and not Him for mine.
The Apostle Paul writes to the believers in Corinth and describes how God plans to express His excellence through earthen vessels:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
That God would choose a weak and limited human for Christ to shine through floors me every day. That our own ugliness does not impede God’s purpose, nor His love for us, baffles me. That He saw my attempts at righteousness and knew they’d be like filthy rags and opted to come down Himself to clean me up is why I believe God likes ugly.
When believers start thinking He doesn’t, is when they start pointing out the ugliness in others rather than love them the way God loves us.
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I am really grateful for my parents. The culture(s) they exposed me to even as I grew up in the densely populated metropolis called Lagos. I remember the diversity of music that would flood through our home. Everything from Dolly Parton to Perry Como and from Motown to Fela. Today I’m nostalgic about one of the first love songs I ever memorized. “Malaika” was a beautiful Tanzanian love song by South Africa’s own Miriam Makeba (a.k.a. Mamma Africa). We had the version with the duet with Harry Belafonte (a.k.a. The King of Calypso–I remember running through the house screaming “Day-O” at the top of my lungs! 😂😂

The richness of the song and its singers wasn’t lost on me as a kid. You have a South African and an American singing a Tanzanian song (in Swahili) and it sounded absolutely breath taking. Even as I listen today, it’s like that relaxed feeling after an amazing yoga session…you just want to float over to hug a loved one.

Think I’m kidding? Take a listen:

So what are they saying: the song is sung by a young man in love with his girlfriend but unfortunately can not afford the dowry or bride price to marry her. This depresses him and he repeatedly laments.

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Ningekuoa mali we, ningekuoa dada

Nashindwa na mali sina we, ningekuoa Malaika

Pesa, zasumbua roho yangu

Pesa, zasumbua roho yangu

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio

Nashindwa na mali sina we

Ningekuoa Malaika

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege

Ningekuoa mali we, ningekuoa dada

Nashindwa na mali sina, we

Ningekuoa Malaika

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Ningekuoa mali we, ngekuoa dada

Nashindwa na mali sina we, Ningekuoa Malaika


Angel, I love you angel
angel, I love you angel
If I could get the property for you, I would marry you
If I did have the money , I could get married angel

Make money, frustrate my soul
Make money, frustrate my soul
And what can I do, boyfriend
I do not have the money I do not have
I could get an Angel

The cage, cuts the cage
The cage, cuts the cage
If I could get the property for you, I would marry you
I do not have the money I do not have
I could get an Angel

angel, I love you angel
angel, I love you angel
If I could get the property of you, I would marry you
When I lost the wealth I did not have, I could find Angels

This month three of my cousins will have their traditional weddings back home. It isn’t lost on me even in my own family the richness these ceremonies will infuse into our culture. You see, one cousin’s husband is Polish, the other’s is Swedish, and the third’s Nigerian. All three sisters are having their traditional ceremonies at the same time. All three couples have found love across cultural barriers and if you research “Mailaka” you’ll see that is also at the root of the song. Historians differ on who wrote it first, or who recorded it first. But all agree Mamma Africa made it famous and it found a way into my psyche years and years ago.

Thank you mum and dad for exposing me to GOOD music. It has helped me connect to so many people all over the world. Thank you Harry Belafonte for lending your voice to this love song. Thank you Mamma Africa for the first Swahili I ever learned as a kid, even though it took years to understand what I was actually saying.

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Telling Your Story

Today I’m thinking about the things I’ve been through…the tough times especially. The wilderness experiences I’ve had. The times I’ve wondered where God was then realizing He was there all along. The times He brought me through a storm. The times I couldn’t explain how I came through it. I wonder out loud “why me?”

Then He reminds me, someone needs to hear your story of how I brought you through. “I comforted you so you can comfort someone else with that same comfort.”

I need to continue this intimacy with The Creator. Allowing Him to comfort me in all things. I need to stop treating Him like a side relationship…He needs to be at the center of my mess, my funk, my failures, my insecurities, and my ego. Thank You God for who You are…my Comforter. Yes, I will tell my story (I believe church folk call this “sharing testimonies”).

I recall how it took over a decade of convincing and prodding before my dad wrote and published his autobiography. I’m so glad he did…his story is told and his descendants will be blessed by it.

When Israel forgot to tell their story it cost them dearly. They were still carrying the stones but had failed to tell their story to generations that hadn’t experienced the flood or manna falling from heaven.

Blessed Assurance by Elevation Worship

I’m glad to have known the story behind one of my favorite hymnals. See link below.

“This is my story…this is my song. Praising my Savior…all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long!” — Blessed Assurance by Fanny Crosby (

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I’ve been to four funerals so far in my life. My maternal grandmother’s, a good friend from college, a young Airman in my unit, and yesterday, the husband of a co-worker. Each were very different but all had one thing in common: the air of sadness from a departed loved one.
Yesterday’s was even more different.  It was the first one held in a language I didn’t fully understand. It was the first one where the dress code was surprisingly quite casual; shorts, t-shirts, jeans, slacks, blouses. Besides the clergy, only the military members were dressed up. It was the first one where the body was cremated and the urn was being laid in the ground. I recognized a solemn hymn sung in Deutsch (Bleib bei mir, Herr!) or “Abide with Me”, the Lord’s Prayer, and a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the end.
Back home, I was very young when grandma died. I remember a huge celebration and then a lot of wailing. I remember watching my mum and her sisters cry out loud. I didn’t cry. I mimicked dad’s calm demeanor and stuck to his side the whole time. I was too young to have the kind of relationship with my grandma that my sons have with their grandma-Lagos today. I didn’t know enough to cry.
In college when my boy BH died, it rocked me. He’d joined the Navy after graduation and become a pilot.  He died in a plane crash. It didn’t hit me until I saw his casket lowered into the ground…that’s when I lost it. I had an outer body experience as I watched my self cry my eyes out. The crowd slowly walked away from the gravesite and I just froze and cried. Somehow I didn’t want to stop crying…I felt I owed BH all my tear ducts could muster.
When Zac died in 2011 ( the funeral was a classic military funeral. Honor guard, gun salutes, thousands of American flags lining the streets along with citizens rendering salutes to a fallen warrior. My heart was so heavy. I knew him…he was my Airmen. I remember getting on bended knee to present his dog tags to his younger brother. The long hug with his mum and his dad’s stoic look throughout.
This is not one of those topics anyone should jump for excitement about. I write this because, inevitably, we will get to say goodbye to someone at some point or another and regardless of the culture or the circumstances, the feelings evoked at a funeral are universal: we miss them terribly; there’s a hole where there wasn’t one before; the things we were so concerned about before are no longer as important as saying goodbye.
Rest in Peace Manfred!
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A night of culture…musically speaking

So I’ve been living in my apartment since July.  Other than my family’s visit over Labor Day, I haven’t entertained at the loft…well, until this past Wednesday. “The Loft”…that’s what I call my place. I live on the top floor of a shopping complex; next to a fitness club and with the view below. To say this chapter has been therapeutic is an understatement. I enjoy waking up before dawn to the smell of freshly baked bread and a view that heralds God’s magnificence.


And so for the past five weeks I’ve been facilitating discussions among a group of 12 individuals from 12 different countries. Discussions cover a range of topics from migration to terrorism, transnational organized crime and gender equality. These amazing professionals from various fields have taught me so much since we started this journey together. They are part of a larger group of 105 participants attending a course on applied security.

Last Saturday we held a Culture Night where all 105 participants got a chance to showcase their individual cultures with food, drinks, pictures, and art. It was an amazing event…so much food from as far as Honduras all the way to Afghanistan and South Africa. But then on Wednesday, I experienced a different kind of culture night when 10 of the 12 in my discussion group dropped by my apartment. I knew some of them were fans of music from the 80s and so I had a video playlist projecting on the wall. The balcony seemed to become a nice gathering spot despite the cold but clear night.  We talked about family, travels, and joked about the teams loss during volleyball.  I learned more about them as individuals, their aspirations, likes, and dislikes.  I also marveled at how this group that five weeks ago had never met, came to become a well-oiled intellectual and social machine.

Back inside I switched roles from party host to “Karaoke DJ”. Hearing people from so many different countries sing along to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, Fugees “Killing Me Softly”, or Michael Jackson’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” was a hoot.  Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” was the fan favorite.  But, the highlight came when I asked each of them to pick a favorite music video from their country. I then played the video on the big screen and we all got to enjoy a healthy sampling of world music.  It was so much fun to see each of them temporarily forget the challenges each of their countries faced while excitingly digging through YouTube for a favorite music video.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about the universality of music and how people with so many differences can also have so much in common while coming together to sing popular tunes.

What a night…definitely up there among the memorable ones!

There’s just something about fellowship, even through music, that connects humanity and opens us up to be better listeners especially in the company of those who don’t look, sound, or even live like us. I am blessed to have had a rich multicultural journey thus far and one that has less to do with the places I’ve been but more to do with the people I’ve encountered.


“Show hospitality to one another without complaining.  Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” — 1 Peter 4:9-11 (NET) 

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