STORYARC INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORS

Artists

Edward Sun

Edward is a Chinese American graphic designer, musician, and brand strategist born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. In his daily artwork on Instagram, his music as Kaptivated, and his professional work as Lead Designer at Braintrust Creative, he wields creativity as a powerful tool to manifest God's divine peace in a chaotic world. Connect with him at @edwardcreates on all social platforms.

Emily Fernando

Emily Fernando is an illustrator, graphic designer, and photographer based in Houston, Texas. She is currently a university student and works at her local church in media. She utilizes her passion for creativity as an avenue to connect with others and to reflect the glory of God. Find more of her work on instagram @madebyemfern.

Micah Bournes

Micah Bournes is a poet and musician from Long Beach, California. He is most known for his dynamic performance of spoken word poetry. His work often includes vulnerable narratives related to culture, justice, and faith. He has released five studio albums, is the author of "Here Comes This Dreamer", and co-editor of "Fight Evil With Poetry: Anthology Volume One".

Mondo Scott

Mondo Scott is the Creative Director at Pax. His other creative side hustles include design, photography and mentoring urban youth in the digital arts at AMP Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the Pastoral team at Ecclesia Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Salena and daughter Selah.

Salena Marie Scott

In the beginning of adulthood, Salena muzzled her artistry, worked in the stock market, married a pastor and had a daughter. She then crawled through severe illness for a decade. In her 11th hour, Jesus gave her a seed of hope. Since then, she has been on a journey of unmasking the poet that God made her to be and finding healing through sharing her story. In her spare time, Salena likes to write poetry published in her orange journal and play piano for her houseplants. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mondo, her daughter Selah, her enemy Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and her companion Holy Spirit. See more of Salena's work at www.salenamariescott.com

Willie Jennings

Dr. Willie James Jennings is currently Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University Divinity School. Dr. Jennings was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Jennings received his B.A. in Religion and Theological Studies from Calvin College (1984), his M.Div. (Master of Divinity degree) from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California, and his Ph.D. degree from Duke University. Dr. Jennings who is a systematic theologian teaches in the areas of theology, black church and Africana studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory. Dr. Jennings is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race published by Yale University Press. It is one of the most important books in theology written in the last 25 years and is now a standard text read in colleges, seminaries, and universities. Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity. Dr. Jennings recently authored commentary on the Book of Acts won the Reference Book of the Year Award, from The Academy of Parish Clergy. He is also the author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, which is the inaugural book in the much anticipated book series, Theological Education between the Times, and has already become an instant classic, winning the 2020 book of the year award from Publisher’s Weekly. And now Dr. Jennings is hard at work on a book on the doctrine of creation, tentatively entitled, “Reframing the World.” In addition to being a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and seminaries, Dr. Jennings is also a regular workshop leader at pastor conferences. He is also a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and for the Association of Theological Schools. He served along with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings as associate ministers at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, and for many years, they served together as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. They are the parents of two wonderful daughters, Njeri and Safiya Jennings.

Writers

Aizaiah Yong

Aizaiah is a contemplative Christian Pentecostal minister, practical theologian, & international teacher who is passionate about works of peace, justice, & intercultural community. Aizaiah has experience serving in a variety of leadership positions within non-profit, educational, & religious institutions as well as in consulting roles with executive leaders seeking organizational change. He continues to publish numerous works related to issues at the intersection of wisdom-based leadership, pastoral theology & spiritual care, intercultural studies, and social innovation.

Amanda Souza

Amanda Souza recently graduated with her Communication degree from California Lutheran University. She now works at her alma mater as an Undergraduate Admission Counselor and loves every minute of it. She enjoys traveling to new places and has a passion for the performing arts, both as an audience member and as a performer. Amanda grew up in the church and now lives in the pursuit of understanding the true heart of Jesus.

Andrew Rillera

Andrew joined the movement in 1999 when he left the Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ. Andrew finds Pax by playing games with his family, reading, playing ice hockey and disc golf, and finding solitude. He has a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies (Eternity Bible College), M.A. in Theology and Ministry (Fuller Seminary), and is almost finished with a Ph.D. in New Testament (Duke). He co-wrote Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence with Preston Sprinkle and serves as an adjunct professor at Eternity Bible College. He and his wife (Karianne) and two kids (Eden & Zion) live in Durham, North Carolina.

Austin Lack

Austin Lack is a writer, non-profit director, and professional pick-up soccer player. He spends his time walking the neighborhood with his wife Madison and researching the ever unfolding history of Los Angeles.

Caleb Betts

Caleb is a second-year law student currently pursuing his J.D. at LMU Loyola Law School in downtown Los Angeles. He earned his B.A. in Politics while studying at Occidental College, where he experienced a newfound understanding of Jesus' heart for redemptive justice while working with the Child Protection Unit of the D.C. Attorney General, participating in grassroots activism for the unhoused community in Skid Row, and working at the Inner City Law Center. While a student at Occidental, Caleb participated in on-campus ministry with InterVarsity, where he assisted in ministering to student-athletes and leading students off-campus to serve unhoused neighbors in Skid Row. He ultimately hopes to use his legal education to encourage communities of lawyers and clients with the good news of Jesus Christ, the missional field he finds himself placed within.

Drew Jackson

Drew Jackson is the co-founding pastor of Hope East Village in New York City, where he currently serves. He is deeply engaged in anti-racism work, primarily in church contexts, and is actively involved with the work of peacemaking and multi-faith coalition building for the common good, both nationally and internationally. Drew and his wife, Genay, have twin daughters, Zora and Suhaila, and they currently live in Lower Manhattan. Follow Drew’s poetry at @d.jacksonpoetics on Instagram.

Irwyn Ince

Rev. Dr. Irwyn Ince serves as a pastor at Grace DC Presbyterian Church (www.gracedc.net) and director of the Grace DC Institute for Cross-Cultural Mission (www.gracedc.institute). The Institute is a church-based entity dedicated to equipping churches with the confidence and competence to welcome others the way Jesus welcomes us. Dr. Ince is a graduate of City College of NY (B.E.E.E, 1995), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.A.R., 2006), and Covenant Theological Seminary (D.Min., 2016). In January 2006, after an eleven year career with Motorola as a systems engineer and project engineering manager, he began full time ministry at Mount Zion Covenant Church in Bowie, MD. In January 2007 Mount Zion merged with New Town Church in Columbia to plant City of Hope Presbyterian Church, where he served as Senior Pastor from 2007-2017. He and his wife, Kim, have been married 27 years, and have four children (Jelani, Nabil, Zakiya, and Jeremiah). In addition to his passion for his family and for ministry, he is passionate about coffee and CrossFit. He is the author of The Beautiful Community: Unity, Diversity and the Church at Its Best, published in 2020 with InterVarsity Press. He has also contributed to the books Heal Us Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church, and All Are Welcome: Toward a Multi-Everything Church.

Jeff Liou

Jeff loves ministry with and for young adults. Since 2001, Jeff has worked with college students and young adults in campus ministry, the local church, and as a university chaplain. He studied theology at Fuller Seminary (PhD, ’17) in order to better serve and reach both young people and the ideas and institutions that shape them. Jeff is a mediocre musician and woodworker. A child of Taiwanese immigrant parents, he’s a husband to Lisa, father to a high schooler and a middle schooler, and human to their dog, Shadow. Jeff is taken captive by Christ for ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church of North America.

Jocelyn Chung

Jocelyn Chung is a lettering artist & graphic designer passionate about raising up the next generation of leaders of color who will live fully embodied and authentic faith in Jesus. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and based out of Southern California, Chung believes in empowering others, sharing stories to cultivate empathy, embracing the tension, and using her voice to be a truth-seeker and truth speaker. You can visit her shop to learn more about her prints and find her on Instagram @jocekittyllama.

Kat Armas

Kat Armas is a Cuban-American writer and podcaster from Miami, FL who holds a dual MDiv and MAT from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is currently working on her first book, Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us About Wisdom, Persistence and Strength, (forthcoming Summer 2021 with Brazos Press) where she writes at the intersection of women, Scripture, and Cuban identity. She also explores these topics on her podcast, "The Protagonistas", which centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color in church leadership and theology. You can check out more of her work at www.katarmas.com.

Michelle Ami Reyes

Michelle Reyes (PhD) is the Co-Executive Director of Pax and the Vice President of the Asian American Christian Collaborative. She is also the Scholar-in-Residence at Hope Community Church, a minority-led multicultural church in East Austin, Texas, where her husband, Aaron, serves as lead pastor. Michelle's work on faith and culture has been featured in Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Missio Alliance, Faithfully Magazine and more. Her forthcoming book on cross-cultural relationships is called Becoming All Things: How Small Changes Lead to Lasting Connections Across Cultures (Zondervan; April 27, 2021). Follow Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.

Mondo Scott

Mondo Scott is the Creative Director at Pax. His other creative side hustles include design, photography and mentoring urban youth in the digital arts at AMP Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the Pastoral team at Ecclesia Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Salena and daughter Selah.

Osheta Moore

Osheta Moore, PAX's Spiritual Director, is a podcaster, blogger, and everyday peacemaker. She serves as Outreach and Teaching Pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota and Community Life Pastor at Roots Covenant. Osheta is the author of Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World (Herald, 2017) and Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace (Herald, forthcoming).

Sameer Yadav

Sameer Yadav (Th.D. Duke, S.T.M, Yale) is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. He is a philosophical theologian who works on the Christian religious experience, the theology of Scripture, and the intersection of race and religion.

Tiffany Bluhm

Tiffany Bluhm is the author of Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up (Brazos Press 2021) as well as She Dreams and Never Alone. She is a speaker, writer, and podcast co-host of Why Tho, a show answering the existential and nonsensical questions we ask ourselves, with author and speaker, Ashley Abercrombie. She speaks at conferences and events around the world, and her work has been featured in World Vision Magazine, Pentecostal Evangel, TODAY Parents, YouVersion Bible app, the Hallmark Channel, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and more. She leads an engaged audience of 50,000 followers online and is committed to encouraging people of faith to live lives of conviction, substance, and grace. As a minority, immigrant woman with a interracial family, she is passionate about inviting all to the table of faith, equality, justice, and dignity. Tiffany, her husband Derek, and their two sons, Jericho and Kingston, live in Tacoma, WA.

Travia Forte

Travia Forte has an AA in Radio, Television, and Film and Humanities/Fine Art. She is currently an undergrad at Biola University where she studies Broadcast Journalism and Biblical Studies.

EDITORIAL  NOTE

What comes to mind when you think of the Bible? 

We polled a group of Gen Z Christians of color this very question. One person replied, “The breath of God painting a picture of how life and love is supposed to be.” Another said, “Scripture is a safe landing or grounding place, a framework of reality,” to which they also added, “I don't always live in [this reality], but it exists for me to step into.” A third associated the Bible with an image of “returning home after a long time away.”

I was intrigued by these answers. In our largely unchurched American society, many Christians today, including Gen Z Christians and Christians of color, still want to engage with God and understand who God is and what he has to say. We may not all be sitting in pews on Sunday morning, but we still long for real, authentic and even creative engagement with God’s word. Many of us still believe that the Bible has the potential for meaning in our life.

It is nothing short of divine providence that, despite centuries of war, hate, racism, slavery, misogyny, colonialism and systemic injustice in which the Bible has often been wielded as a tool of oppression, that the goodness and beauty of God’s word remains. Fallen humans create fallen interpretations of the Bible and then live out in accordance with those fallen ideals. As humans, we’ve justified a whole host of evils in the name of Scripture and yet, somehow, there are still followers of Jesus today who love God’s word and are seeking to deconstruct the colorblind and racist hermeneutics that have saturated our society for far too long. I thank God for that.

As Christians in the 21st century, we still need the Bible. More than that, we need to understand why we need it. The Bible was never about making us feel good or giving us power to wield over others. Rather it’s about beholding and becoming. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” The more we read and submit ourselves to God’s word, the more we are supposed to become like Jesus. 

This StoryArc on Scripture is all about tasting and seeing that the triune God in the Bible is good. He is our loving father, our path and our light. The more we come to him, the more he will transform us into the image of his son, Jesus (Romans 8:29). In other words, when we read the Bible, it’s supposed to change us - how we think, how we feel, how we live out and see the world. Spending time in God’s word isn’t even about becoming “smarter.” It’s about becoming more filled with the peace of Christ and living as Jesus did.

Have you ever thought of the Bible like that before? This approach to the Bible may be new for some of you and that’s OK. There’s a lot we need to deconstruct in ourselves, including myths about the Bible and its wrong and harmful uses. As we journey through this StoryArc on Scripture, you may learn new things about yourself, about your past and the voices - both helpful and harmful - along the way. Take it slow. Be gentle with yourself. And keep clinging to God’s word. You won’t regret it.

MICHELLE REYES

StoryArc™ Archive

View Archive