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“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Throughout history, the destructive forces of oppression and abuse have been stoked by evil intentions, agendas and behavior. Yet, there is another source that can fuel insidious plans — the reliance on silence. Over the years, I have learned the value of silence for a specific reason — to listen closely to learn and grow. Keeping quiet for the purpose of being a student of others and situations is an admirable quality and discipline. But, the motivation to stay silent because of the consequences is a real fear gripping the hearts of many. Too often, our culture has exposed the destructive force of silence when it was necessary to speak up.

The fear to speak the truth in love and bring correction can be attributed by the addictive comfort of convenience. The convenience of not saying anything to avoid being the target of attacks, false accusations and slander certainly maintains the status quo. But, it can also lend itself to being complicit to a system, person or thought that only serves to cause greater pain. More than ever, our culture is facing some hard and inconvenient realities that must be addressed in an assertive manner. If not confronted head-on, it can serve to exacerbate conditions that are not helpful to anyone.


SEXUAL HARASSMENT & ABUSE


For example, the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are a few movements have shed light to a long-standing problem of sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation. Every time we hear a report of a celebrity, leader or influencer being toppled by substantiated claims, you may hear a collective sigh of disappointment. But, you may also hear others voice (after the claim) a lack of surprise. Why is that? It may be due to their knowledge of the person’s behavior in years past and a refusal to address it for the sake of their career or to curry favor. With all due respect, this is part of the problem. As more people speak out and share their stories, we must be diligent in investigating what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve wondered how many more people have stories that they are afraid to share because of what they think will be the consequences. How many more people are living in daily fear? While easier said than done, we must support the victims and their courage to speak out on their behalf and for the sake of others. We can no longer be silent or be silenced. As Dr. King stated emphatically, “the silence of the good people is the ultimate tragedy.”


OUR POLITICAL CLIMATE


The same applies to our current politics. For years, political allegiances have caused those who are supportive of a candidate or leader who has said or done something inappropriate to remain silent or to defend the indefensible. In the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton acted inappropriately in the White House, too many supporters of the President defended him. You may have agreed with his policies, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to speak directly to his lack of character. It also doesn’t mean you’re being hypocritical. When President Donald Trump reportedly called nations in Africa and Haiti, s**thole nations (Link to Story), such language from the leader of the free world has been universally viewed as unacceptable. Whether you agree with President Trump’s policies on immigration, the economy or his leadership of the nation, can we agree that such language will not make america great again? I’ve been dumbfounded by the silence of the good people and how anyone who values character and integrity can defend such remarks. The coarsening of our culture, the increased partisanship in our politics and the voluntary segregation of aligning with those who only agree with us, have led us to this moment. It is unfortunate to conclude that too many people will overlook clear infractions of dignity and respectability for the purpose of their agenda going forward.


SYSTEMIC INJUSTICES


Another area where silence has been destructive is the systemic injustices in the United States and our world. Whether it is the shooting of an unarmed person and its disproportionate amount in minority communities, the economic disparities amongst communities, gentrification, or even how American citizens are detained, incarcerated or addressed in our prisons, the silence is deafening. At times, the silence is due to not having enough information to address the matter. For those reading this blog, I encourage you to seek out reputable resources that can help in the study of these issues. The silence of the good people may also be due to the conflation of our opinions to facts. As the late NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was once quoted saying,

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” 

In a culture that is peppered with the phrases “fake news” or “alternative facts”, we must be even more diligent in searching out the facts of an issue and debate the best course of action for the betterment of society. We shouldn’t dismiss debate, but we must reject the deliberate effort to intentionally mislead.


WHAT CAN WE DO?


I’m encouraged by those who are speaking out about injustices and inequality for the purpose of resolution and healing. There will always be voices serving the agenda of division. But, as we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., these voices are muffled by the collective voices of justice, healing, racial reconciliation and peace. It could be dismissed as naiveté, but I truly believe in the best of our humanity and civic discourse. The silence of the good people has reached a breaking point. Will we speak up on behalf of the defenseless, the helpless and the unprotected? And when we speak, will we add value to the national conversation? Join forces with a non-profit organization addressing societal injustices daily. Use your platform to address matters of concern and let your voice be heard. Call your local, regional and national legislators to voice your concerns. Make your voice heard in the voting booth. Hold your leaders to account for what they do or don’t do — what they say or don’t say. Collectively, let’s make sure when we speak, we have the courage of our convictions to follow through and backup what we say. In the words of Dr. King, “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – RF


ABOUT AUTHOR

Ryan E. Faison is the College and Young Adults Pastor at Christ Church in Montclair & Rockaway, NJ and the Executive Director of Young Adults United. Ryan also serves on the Clergy Advisory Board for HomeCorp in Montclair and the Nyack Alliance Theological Seminary Alumni Association. Ryan serves as a preacher, worship leader, and producer at Christ Church. Ryan has been married to Kristyn (an educator and worship leader) for 7 years and lives in Northern NJ. Connect with Ryan online at @RyanFaison (FB, Twitter, IG, Snapchat, Periscope).

Since the start of my own blog, I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview some of my peers who are doing extraordinary work in extraordinary times. Their insights, perspectives and wisdom have sharpened me as a servant, husband, pastor and leader. Based on the numerous e-mails, calls and texts, I am confident to report that these interviews have impacted our readers as well.

To start 2017 off right, I knew I needed to interview someone whose passion and drive represented this generation well. I thought. I prayed. And a name popped up: Landon Schott. Some of you may be very familiar with Landon and his ministry. For others, this may be your first time hearing of him. But, his impact has made an indelible mark on how this generation receives Christ-centered quality content. Landon is a preacher, leader and trailblazer. Along with his wife Heather, Landon is the founder of REV Ministries and REVtv.com, a global media ministry serving youth and young adults. Landon is a profound preacher, prolific writer, and a proven leader. During our conversation, it was evident that God is working through Landon in ways that will continue to reverberate for generations to come.

It’s my prayer that your heart, mind and spirit will be strengthened and encouraged through this conversation.

DEEPEST DESIRE


RF: Landon, as the founder of REV Ministries and REVTv.com, your mission is to turn the hearts of a generation to God. You unapologetically emphasize the need of making Jesus famous. With this passion, what is your deepest desire to see among our generation of millennials and young adults?

Landon: Thanks Ryan. My deepest desire is to see a developing passion for God in our generation. At the start of 2017, we are embarking on a 21-Day Challenge of calling our nation to prayer and fasting (To find out more or to download the app for the 21-Day Challenge, check here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/21-dc/id946555591?mt=8). I found out that more you are in His Presence, you reflect Him more. It’s my desire to see the Holy Spirit move in our generation due to our passion to know Him more.

My other desire is to see disciplining take place. Our generation is know to do the BIG, BRIGHT AND RELEVANT. We are good at great events but horrible at follow-up and follow through. We make a BIG SPLASH but wind up TREADING WATER. My desire is to see a greater focus on corporate discipleship in the church and individual discipleship within families and communities. Being a leader in student ministry for 18 years, I championed daily discipleship. You can’t just do a bible reading plan (while this is needed). It’s a daily walk with God.

Recently, God released this revelation to me. In the Scriptures, Samson gave up his secret and he lost his strength. God said,

When you give up your secret place, you lose your strength!”

We cannot afford to lose our strength!

I also desire to see greater biblical literacy on a national level. False teaching is rampant because many Christ-followers are biblically illiterate. We must go back to prayer and reading of God’s Word. For me, it must be the center of my life. I pray that same desire and passion will grow in our generation.

JESUS FOR A GENERATION


RF: It’s evident in your mission and vision that you desire to see Jesus made famous. How does this generation do that, even in the midst of opposition and apathy?

Landon: One time, a gay Christian leader told me that there is a difference between “good news” and “good advice”. They followed up by saying that not all of the Bible is “good news”. Immediately, I thought this was faulty perspective. The Bible is the Good News representing the Hope of the World. This hope is reflected in the person of Jesus Christ. Making Jesus famous is one day at a time. One decision at a time.

Practically, it’s obedience. Daily obedience to His Word. In the small things and the big things!

GAY AWARENESS


RF: You recently wrote a book called “Gay Awareness: Discovering the Heart of the Father and the Mind of Christ On Sexuality”. It caused quite a stir and a buzz, especially on social media. You’ve addressed many questions surrounding the book in the media, but here’s my question: why did you write this book?

Landon: Obedience is the reason I wrote it. A book for those who have a heart after God but their true temptation is same-sex attraction. I have taught on this subject before and are drawn to the gay community. I love the gay community. And writing this book was an assignment within an assignment. When writing the book, “Jezebel: The Witch Is Back”, I shared how she promoted homosexuality.  I wanted to address this issue with sensitivity, compassion and His grace.

I say obedience because I didn’t want to write this book. I knew the response would be intimidating. I had a prayer walk with God. And the Holy Spirit said, “It is worth fighting.” After that, I was more afraid NOT TO OBEY that the consequences of obeying. The first way of responses was attack driven. But as the dust settled, it became an Amazon Best Seller overnight.

In the book, I cite 400 Scriptures on sexuality and the heart of God surrounding it. I’ve been encouraged by the numerous testimonies of how the book changed their lives. One reader shared how Gay Awareness  was like a spiritual detox. After reading the book, the reader shared how they struggled with the temptation of same-sex attraction but had to follow God’s leading to go to Bible College. Ryan, this is one of my assignments.

And I’m grieved. I’m grieved at the gay Christian contradictions. I’m grieved how gay rights have been on marketed as on par with the Civil Rights movement. But, if we don’t have these conversations with the gay community, we forfeit the opportunity to share the love of God.

RF: You speak of the Civil Rights Movement in relation to the gay rights. As a leader, what do you feel is the civil rights movement of our day?

Landon: We need to talk directly and frankly about justice. But, not the politically correct social justice like the world tries to quench the thirst. Even the Civil Rights Movement did not quench the thirst. We are still thirsting after justice, now!

What I speak of is CIVIL RIGHTEOUSNESS: Heaven’s justice, not our own. I will be leading a prophetic conference in 2017 in Chicago to prophesy justice to our nation. Here’s the issue: We want to work on justice issues in the midst of heightened tensions sweeping our nation. It’s like the wise saying of working on your marriage in a time of peace, not a time of war. This will be an ongoing issue, but the conversation around civil righteousness must start with us.

POLITICAL DISCOURSE


RF: Our nation has endured a very bitter political election season. Over 65 million people voted for Secretary Hillary Clinton as the next President. But, approximately 63 million voted for Donald J. Trump and with his win in the electoral college, he will be the 45th President of the United States. Based on numbers and demographics alone, there is a large divide in our nation. After the election, I talked to many young adults. Some voted for Clinton. Some voted for Trump. Some didn’t vote at all. There were mixed emotions: some experienced severe disappointment and others experienced sheer joy. What’s your perspective and how do bridge the divide, Landon?

Landon: Ryan, this is a challenging subject. There are so many biases. It was characterized as the lesser of two evils and the greater response to the greater sin. My personal convictions surround the national genocide of abortion. God hates the shedding of innocent blood.

RF: I understand your grievance and convictions surrounding abortion. With that said, there were many other issues on the ballot including immigration, economic policy, foreign policy, civil rights and justice that others are as equally grieved about. Even in my conversations with young adults, I could see a tension while they didn’t agree with a candidate on every issue, they voted their convictions and conscience based on the issues or the qualifications of the candidate. How would address them?

Landon: I understand and my point is that we cannot have this conversation every four years during a presidential election. This is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen. I have come to this conclusion: Jesus is King and Lord. No political party is the answer. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work in healing our nation and reconciling one to another. Again, not dealing with issues in a fight, but in a time of peace and unity. As we pray for the leadership of our nation, I also pray for the people of our great country.

PARTING WORDS OF WISDOM


RF: There are young adults, millennials and other leaders reading this interview. They may be facing challenges they never expected to face. Roadblocks may be in their way. What words of encouragement would you share with them on their journey?

Landon: [Pause] Don’t underestimate faithfulness.

God is truly faithful. In your 20s, many times you are fighting so hard and trying to make it. To make a mark. But I found out that its in your 30s that you start seeing the provision and faithfulness of God in response to your faithfulness to Him. And it will never be an equal return. It’s always an abundance!

I would also encourage your readers to value leadership, strategies and how to grow. Value the leadership that you are held accountable to. Promote strategies that stir healthy growth, not simply fast growth. And learn the lessons of how to grow in a balanced way.

But once again, value faithfulness. I’ll leave you with this: When you are faithful in your 20s, you will see the hand of God in your 30s. In other words, don’t get weary in well doing. In your season of hard work, expect great harvest!

RF: Thanks Landon! Let’s expect great harvest in 2017! 


Discover More! About Landon Schott:

Twitter: @LandonSchott // @RevTVNetwork // @Heather_Schott

Websites: http://www.therev.com // http://revtv.com

 

After Tuesday’s night’s debate, pundits and political observers will certainly analyze how the Democratic candidate Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump fared on the debate stage. Americans with varying political ideologies will take their corners and try to convince the other that their candidate is superior, no matter what happened at the debate. In one of the most polarizing times in American history, we are facing a startling truth. There’s no debate about this: The next president will face a challenge in governing our nation.

The losing campaign and candidate may accept the result of the election. However, the acceptance of the voters of the losing candidate are another thing altogether. The vitriol seeping through the American political discourse doesn’t reflect difference on policy or legislative approaches. Rather, the chatter about over-the-top rhetoric and advancing proven falsehoods by fact-checkers has dumbed down our politics – and our democratic system.

Admittedly, our political preferences can color our view of how we view candidates, political parties and how the Constitution of the United States should be applied. While this differences persist, why should it be too much to ask for respectful disagreement and willingness to compromise for the greater good? The next president will face an American family, broken by polarized factions and fears. He or she will take the oath of office with those cheering them on to be successful – and others wishing they would fail. Does this paint a dire picture of the United States? Absolutely. But, it can be changed by courageous leadership on both sides of the aisle and outside of the political party system. This courage may not be awarded in the polls, but it will be rewarded in national and global progress.

The intensity of campaigning for an office does not match the acumen and tenacity needed to govern a diverse nation like ours. Governance requires conversation, informed debate, policy sessions and the creation of legislation. Governance requires a command of facts, not peddled fiction. As a nation, our future is dependent upon what we, the citizens, demand of our politics. If we’re not demanding decent debate while in the midst of an election, what does that say about our governing future? Our country cannot afford the absurdity of an unpredictable campaign bleed into actual policy that affects everyday Americans. The challenge of governing after this election is real. Whether or not we as a nation will rise to the challenge of our times is still – well, debatable.