The Gospel Embodied in Flesh
By: Rev. Letiah Fraser
I am a female. I live with a physical disability. I am an African-American pastor in a predominately white evangelical Christian denomination. The quadruple stereotypes that are often heaped upon my shoulders by those who are a part of the church and those who are not, are mostly hilarious and returned with humor. Sometimes, however, it is disheartening and discouraging. I press on! These are a few things that
I did not grow up in the church. When I entered college my dream was to become an English teacher and to write a book. I wanted people to un-learn the stereotypes that they had accepted as truth through education and actual interaction with a flesh-and-blood-human, just like them.
However, during the last weeks of my sophomore year in college, I sensed a call to ministry that I ignored-or at-least tried to because I had never seen the gospel embodied in
It was in that class, during my Jr. year that my call to ministry became “clearer” and I could not run away from it. There have been some hard times. There have been times that I have lost friends. There have been times that I have almost quit and yet I can’t let go of it. The call of God must take on flesh. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what LOVE compels me to do; to embody the gospel in all my blackness. To embody the gospel in ways that are feminine and to embody the gospel in and through my crippled body.
Some people are called to a specific ministry, place or people group. I was not. I still am not. What I know for sure is that I am called to live with and embody LOVE to and with those who experience life on the margins of society and the church.
Right now, I am living out my call in a few different ways. I am ministering at a shelter for women who are recovering from various addictions and traumas, I am a chaplain at a trauma hospital, and I am a part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
The Poor People’s Campaign was originally a vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. which he did not get to see realized because he was assassinated. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival “is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the nation’s distorted morality.” For more information about the movement and how to get involved in your state, click the link: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/
During MLK Day this year, as I listened to Dr. King’s last speech, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”, I was again challenged to continue to live out my call and to do so as a minister in a predominately white church. Dr. King’s call to the preacher really stuck out to me. He said, “It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.”
Yes, my name is