Nov/Dec 2015 Issue
Become Like Rivers
Preparation for my ministry started early. At age six, I tightly held my mother’s hand as I walked into a school where no one looked like me. New to the suburbs, I had the nervousness of any first grader, but soon learned these children were like me in many ways. And they learned I was not so strange either.
This is the heart of my ministry, helping churches and church leadership embrace diversity and inclusion. Solutions to oneness in Christ begins first by understanding cultural boundaries are man-made creations. While preserving our traditions, they also limit our oneness in Christ. Just like the dams on a river, they slow the flow.
Imagine: new research shows that, genetically, we are all 99% the same, and our differences are estimated to be less than 1%. Should these create boundaries which continue to separate the body of Christ in churches across the nation?
In reality, the division is not in our genes, but in the systems we embrace within our individual cultures: family traditions, social expectations, and even worship and preaching styles are all examples of cultural divides to explore.
Expanding our experiences in other cultures increases our knowledge like water flowing over river banks, intentionally creating new streams of understanding.
Crossing boundaries like a river is how God uniquely designed my purpose and ministry. He is providing me opportunities to serve people in many cultures, including last year as an interim pastor in Westray, Scotland.
After graduating seminary this past spring, God provided an opportunity to serve a church where the language, culture, and worship were different from any in my past. The experience brought me closer to this confirmation: God’s hand has been holding mine through it all.
Feeling like a stuttering Moses going before the Israelites, I questioned how God would resolve the boundaries that existed between me and this church community. My questions were answered — I flowed into the Spirit, and we shared God’s love.
In 2002, the Burmese Christian Fellowship, renamed the Chin Christian Fellowship in 2004, was planted by Burmese refugees who struggled and risked everything to begin life new in America. Six years later, First Baptist Church of New Bern partnered in their faith walk by providing meeting space, pastor ordination, tutoring, school supplies, and English as a Second Language classes for this faithful home-grown congregation, now identified as First Chin Baptist Church of New Bern.
Reverend Vanbawi Ven’s willingness to honor Christ and embrace me as Pastor of Community Outreach speaks to the readiness of this leader and a congregation in understanding inclusion is about change. This partnership deepens their acceptance of the American culture.
The language constraints are awkward, but I am intentionally learning, teaching, and expressing a love of God through a new culture. Each week my Hakha Chin vocabulary and cultural understanding is growing, and the obstacles I questioned are calmed by a loving congregation.
The body of Christ is diverse and crossing cultural boundaries is an intentional ministry to be pursued with our hearts. We must purposely face outwards, engage and develop opportunities for outreach, understand the value systems of others, and fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus crossed many boundaries and lived a life where everyone mattered. In the same love, Christians are called to become like rivers and flow into God’s estuary of diversity and inclusion.
Daynette is one of the most incredibly engaging and thoughtful ministers I have ever encountered. She is a gifted preacher and teacher who parses the life of the text alongside the life of the listener. She is passionate about her calling and has thoughtfully incorporated all of her previous life experiences into her intent for crossing all boundaries and borders in order to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps her greatest Kingdom gift is her innate ability to offer full and meaningful presence to all she serves. When you are with her, she gives you her full and undivided care and attention. I am honored to call her my student, colleague, and friend.
Danny M. West, Ph.D.
School of Divinity, Gardner-Webb University
Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Studies
Director, Doctor of Ministry program
East Belmont Baptist was blessed to have Daynette come and minister through the preaching of God’s word. She drove many miles to be with us and that alone shows her servant heart. Her message was engaging and personal and spoke to the head as well as the heart. Daynette is a delightful minister of the gospel whose love for God is evident in her love for others.
Pastor Jeff Taylor
East Belmont Baptist Church
Rev. Snead is a dynamic preacher, teacher, cultural critic, and expert in the intersection of Christian discourse woven in social relevance. I have witnessed her preach and teach in several contexts and her gifts place her in a realm that few realize. Her work in communal inclusion crosses every barrier imaginable. In so doing, she bridges the divide within the human condition in her ministry work and God is glorified. I stand in awe at her ministry gifts and her cultural sensitivity to build humankind.
Rev. Thomas L. Barksdale II
Daynette Snead captivated the roomful of 70 business women and community leaders of the Coastal Women’s Forum for our January luncheon. Daynette explained that by keeping an open mind and a welcoming heart you will build a better life for yourself and others. She energized the room, provided thoughtful examples, and compelled us to start the New Year with a fresh attitude ready to see the opportunity in the new people and situations we encounter.
Jane H. Maulucci, President 2016-2017
Coastal Women’s Forum