Tag Archives: baptists

With so much division in America, this urban missionary bridges the divide

Civil RighteousnessJonathan Tremain “JT” Thomas is a chaos chaser.

He showed up in Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police in 2014 to fight for equal treatment for people of color — but also to help quell the rising violence of protests that were being hijacked by non-local agitators.

This year, he showed in Minneapolis after George Floyd died when a white police officer kneeled on his neck. He participated in prayer, counseling and services on the very street corner where Floyd lost his life.

“In church circles, there’s been this desire for awakening,” JT says on Slate. “Oh my goodness, it looks like awakening has come to America in the form of chaos.”

Jt Thomas in MinneapolisThis is JT’s full-time job, and his organization, the pun-derived nonprofit “Civil Righteousness” — has been part of the healing balm applied to a nation convulsed by months of protests, vandalism, riots, looting and anarchy. Christian race-relations expert Dante Stewart calls them “the next generation of the racial reconciliation movement.”

He likes to talk to hot-headed young activists, to white conservative evangelicals and angry black liberal progressives in their 50s and 60s and get them thinking outside of their bubbles. “Jesus came for all,” he says. “There are serious issues in policing that need to be addressed, but also the police officers are human.”

With Methodist circuit-rider great grandparents and a grandmother who was sister of soul legend/ civil rights activist Nina Simone, JT says he’s had a confluence of influences to uniquely prepare him for his current ministry.

Raised in a predominately black Baptist church in North Carolina, he launched on the path to become a missionary in college but zeroed in on urban needs in America. He worked in Tennessee and Indiana but struggled to raise support, so he started a video production company and accepted a teaching pastorate in a nondenominational church in St. Louis.

JonathanTremaineThomasThen Ferguson erupted in unrest that quickly spread across the nation. In a dream vision, JT saw himself type an email titled “Meet me in Ferguson” and took it to mean that he should travel there in the name of the Lord.

He joined prayer groups and observed mounting street protests. He confirmed that agitators from St. Louis were the ones stoking the flames of outrage and sparking violence. After two months of trying to inject God into the equation, he moved his family and set up permanent residence in Ferguson.

When white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black Christians at church in Charleston, South Carolina, JT unobtrusively introduced himself on the scene to conduct prayer services and distributed food to the homeless.

After James Alex Fields Jr. slammed his car into Heather Heyer, killing her, and injured 19 others at a white supremacist rally in Virginia in 2017, JT conducted trainings for local churches on “how to be peacemakers and mediators.”

By then, Civil Righteousness had grown into a network of like-minded Christians who are ready to mobilize like a SWAT team. “We live a lifestyle of readiness,” JT says.

Naturally, they deployed to Minneapolis.

The protests sparked by George Floyd have been different than any previous. They have become more widespread and more supported by politicians and media. They also have been more dominated by Marxists and Antifa. Leaders of BLM have openly declared the Marxist alignment. Antifas engaged in organized anti-police mobilizations, ambushing cops and using lasers to blind them. Read the rest: Civil Righteousness brings Jesus to race riots.

Bitty & Beau’s: a coffee house that employs special needs people

cnn-hero-amy-wright-super-They starred on Broadway, but their most celebrated roles came later as parents of two Down Syndrome kids, for whom they opened a coffee house.

Amy and Ben Wright — deacons at the Wilmington, NC, First Baptist Church — launched Bitty & Beau’s Coffee specifically to employ people like their children, workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The Wrights have become a national sensation, winning CNN’s Heroes of the Year, after being featured on national news. But their trajectory towards canonization was marked by emotional turmoil and disgrace.

cnn-hero-amy-wright“There was just an enormous amount of grief — it was like I was grieving the son I thought I was going to have,” Amy told Baptist News about the turmoil of disappointment before Beau’s birth. “When we learned about Beau’s diagnosis I felt so sad and overwhelmed.

“We are so embarrassed about that now,” she added to the Wilmington Star News. “But if we had had more exposure to people with Down Syndrome back then maybe we would have felt differently.”

She came to love her Down Syndrome boy.

no-one-will-hire-kids-with-down-syndrome-so-parents-open-shop-that-employs-only-those-like-them“I feel that was the moment I was drawn closer to God,” Amy said.

It wasn’t long before Amy saw that her special needs son was not a burden but a blessing. She saw his effervescent joy, and she discovered his giftings. People with Down’s Syndrome are in no way inferior or less worthy of life than others — and God has given them special qualities that others don’t have.

Six years later, Jane Adeline — called “Bitty” — was born also with Down Syndrome. Having two children with Down Syndrome is extremely rare.

“When you become a parent of a child with special needs, you are instantly thrust into becoming an advocate,” Amy said in CNN. “Trying to make people see the beauty in their lives that we see. My children are not broken.”

Eventually, Amy and Ben decided they would do something to help other people with IDD, 70 percent of which are unemployed. In February of 2016, they opened a coffee shop, which they named after their kids, and hired a crew of 40 with IDD ranging from autism to cerebral palsy.

To see Bitty & Beau’s employees making java or ringing up customers, to see them singing and laughing with clients in their new 5,000-square-foot facility, brings a sensation of faith restored in humanity. It packs a joy-filled jolt that’s better than caffeine. Read more about Bitty & Beau’s Christian coffee house for special needs employees.