Spiritual Practice


Nan Johnson, 23

Growing up in the only white family on the lost streets of Los Angeles was not only lonely but also brutal. My dad was the local minister, which seemed only to widen the gap between our multi-ethnic community and us. Our house was vandalized weekly, and the church building was raided often. My parents received death threats, and my Sunday school class was hit with smoke bombs.

When an earthquake devastated the city, power went out, broken gas lines erupted into flames, and houses were ripped apart. My dad spent days helping emergency responders pull from the rubble our neighbors, many of whom had never before acknowledged his existence. Dad emptied our fridge to feed those who had lost everything, and he comforted those who watched their belongings go up in flames.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18a (NRSV)

No matter what race or ethnicity we are, we all experience fear. My dad knew that you can’t love fearfully, so he decided to love fiercely. Through him, some of the neighbors who hated us saw a glimpse of the stubborn love of Jesus.



“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa

How can you live fiercely, even in small ways?

—from devozine (March/April 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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