Why I wrote a book

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Off to college: The next chapter for a Lee High Success Story

If  you've never been properly introduced, meet Liam Fairfax. 



He's front left in the picture above, and he has a pretty amazing story. I've gotten to watch firsthand this pretty amazing story unfold as Liam's Young Life leader. Some parts of that story I've learned in confidence. And those parts I'll take to the grave. You'll just have to trust me if I say that he's been through a lot to get where he has gotten. 

Other parts of his story are public. 

For instance, his high school football teammates all know how Liam helped Lee High beat the Broadway Gobblers in a game he played a few hours after attending his mother's funeral. She battled a long-term illness. Another very public part of his story is he was one of the few minority students at Robert E. Lee to attend governor's school. 

So here's the deal. 

Liam is now at my college alma mater Shenandoah University. He wants to do something in the medical field. 

I know that we could never replace the support system he had in his mom, but I thought it would be kind of cool to form a support system for him nonetheless.  Here's what I had in mind. 
  • If you are reading this blog, send Liam a card of encouragement in the mail. His address is: 
Liam Fairfax
Shenandoah University
1460 University Drive 
P.O. Box 265
Winchester, VA 22601 

Make sure that your note of encouragement also contains a few bucks, too, especially if you remember those college Ramen Noodle nights. 
  • If you are in the Winchester area reading this, please make sure you adopt Liam as your little brother. My Shenandoah University friends were - and still are - like family to me. So I'm calling on all my SU family still in the area to look out for my main man Liam while he's there at school. 
I wrote this blog to my hometown community and all my friends with ties to Winchester or Shenandoah University. I also want to add one sentence to the black community here in Staunton. 

For years, the older generation of blacks has rightly preached to following generations that education is vital. Here's a kid that has taken you up on that advice. And a major part of his support system is gone. I hope that "WE" will be there for him. 


Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Six Reasons Staunton needs a Soul Food Restaurant

In my city, Staunton, lunch options abound.





I can get Thai food, Indian food, Italian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Japanese food, etc., and that doesn't even mention all the burger joints and sandwich shops.

But something is missing.

That something is soul food.

That might not seem like a big deal. Trust me, it is!

Here are my seven reasons why Staunton needs a soul food restaurant.

1. As a tourist destination in the south, our city should offer soul food. As a lifelong Stauntonian, I'm really proud whenever a magazine gives Stauton a shot-out. But as a tourist destination in the south - one of the 20 best small cities in several publications - we should have a soul food spot. You'd never go to Chicago without eating pizza or Philadelphia and without eating a cheesesteak. When people come south, they should expect to get soul food.

2. The numbers say we should have a soul food restaurant. I was grabbing lunch with my cousin at a Mexican restaurant. As we started talking about this topic, we went online and found an ethnic breakdown of Staunton. The black community is just over 10 percent of the population here. Only one other minority group made up even two percent, but many of the different ethnic groups in Staunton have a restaurant.

3. Food is one of the easiest ways to break down cultural barriers. Each year, our community hosts an African-American Heritage Festival. It's a wonderful gesture where the African-American community in Staunton welcomes the rest of the community in to experience its culture. One of the easiest ways to share that culture is try the food. That needs to happen more than one weekend a year. And that's why we need a restaurant. 

4.  A soul food restaurant could potentially be another black-owned business in a town that needs more black-owned businesses. Full disclaimer. I don't know anything about the economics of running a restaurant. I do know there are a great number of soul food cooks in this city. And I  know I would pay to eat their dishes regularly. 

5. Cultural diversity is a huge part of recruiting a more diverse workforce in our city. Barbers shops aren't just barber shops. And, likewise, soul food spots are more than soul food spots. They are central to relationships in the black community. Because they are so important to relationships, it's an easy way for young black professionals moving into the community to begin to build relationships in a new city. 

 6. Finally, it just fits with the spirit of Staunton. Our city, particularly our downtown, is marked by its uniqueness. There aren't a bunch of chain stores and restaurants. Every store has a story. And a soul food restaurant is one  potential restaurant with a story that our city is missing. 

 I write as a way to start conversations. Do you think Staunton could support a soul food restaurant? What's your favorite soul food dish? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ferguson Aftermath: Why a Pair of Cops Showed up at my House

Two weeks ago,  a pair of cops showed up at my house. 

I invited them. 







My wife had given an idea to our pastor Rick Gilmartin. And our pastor had asked a culturally diverse group of us to meet and discuss our feelings about the Ferguson shooting. That group included a pair of police officers. 

Our pastor offered to host the meeting at the Holy Cross office, but I thought a meeting at my house - in a part of the city where some folks struggle to trust law enforcement - would be a more appropriate setting. 

So we met. And we talked. And, most importantly, we listened. 


We all shared our perspectives about the case and the case's coverage, and how we each felt that the gospel should speak to reconciliation. Because we had started the hard work of building cross cultural friendships, we could all say what was on our mind knowing that we could leave the meeting with our friendships in tact. 




My church's main focus isn't racism. Thankfully, it's the gospel. Come to church with me, and each and every week the focus is going to be the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's my favorite thing about my church. However, one of the evidences of the gospel applied is we see the cross of Christ factoring into the way we view race relations. 


For at least one day, the steep, narrow steps leading up to my home represented steps toward racial reconciliation in the church. In the midst of a vivid reminder that highlighted just how much racial tension still exists in our country, I was able to be part of the solution, albeit a very small one.

I write these blogs as conversation starters. What's one small step you'd be willing to take to be part of the solution to race relations?

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here





Friday, September 12, 2014

When I Don't Fit in part 1

 This 2-minute Anomaly video describes my life perfectly.




In fact, it described my life so accurately that I actually got emotional. The emotion-evoking part was the way LeCrae vividly described his life with words that sounded like he was describing my life. 

I can relate to LeCrae. I don't fit in. 

I love hip-hop. And I hate hip-hop. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. Not a conservative. Not a liberal.The all-black and the all-white church - neither or which has a scriptural precedence - can both be uncomfortable places for me. 

As I wrote in an article for Rapzilla, it's been an interesting journey for me and some friends to find a church that is eager to embrace the Christians who make their cultural home in hip-hop. 

One comforting thing in all this is knowing that other people feel the same. A few weeks before my wife showed me the LeCrae video, she sent me a blog post by pastor Thabiti Anywabwile on the Gospel Coalition.  Again, I felt like someone was writing about my life. 

Please take the time to read the article and watch the video! 

There are two reasons I think the blog and video hit me so hard. 

1. It was so freeing to know I'm not the only person who feels this way. You may know how you feel, but there's just something about having someone else voice your same concern that comes as a relief. You think, "Maybe I'm not crazy after all." 

2. There is freedom in not fitting inside the box.  When people put you in a box, they expect you to stay inside the box. The problem is I almost suffocated inside of the box. It's hard - actually it's really hard - not to fit in, but there is also a freedom not trying to conform to fit inside the box. 

At the end of the day, I'm learning to be more comfortable with who God has made me to be as He shapes me more and more into the image of His Son. 

I write these blogs to create discussion. What did you think of the Anomaly video, the Anyabwile article or both? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Letter to my Friends who Have "Quit" The Church ... Or Have Never Started it

I'm not so arrogant to think I know all the reasons that my friends don't go to church.  



People are nuanced. They don't fit in nice, little boxes.  However, if I were to grab coffee with my friends (I actually don't drink coffee) I think I have an idea of answers I would hear pretty consistently. I imagine I may hear the following: 
  • Been There. Done That. Not doing it ever again. 
  • Who needs faith when there is science? I'm more Bill Nye than Ken Ham
  • I have a bunch of church scars. 
  • "Jesus is the Only Way" sounds kinda rigid.
  • I see more hate than love from the church.
  • I tried going to church one time and they yelled at me for how I was dressed. 
  • I watched Preachers of L.A., and that show just looks like a mess. 
  • All of the church scandals have got me like, "Uhm, no thanks!" 
  • The church is full of hypocrites. 
  • I didn't grow up in church and going now would be awkward. 
  • I can't live in that Christian Bubble (aka Saturday Night Live's Church Lady

Here's what I do know. As soon as I was old enough to leave the church, I basically did. During my college years, I rarely ever attended church. I really had no plans of going back. I didn't feel like I was missing a lot. And what I was missing, I was glad I was missing. 

Or so I thought. 

Then I became a Christian. I realized that I had judged the Bible by my church experience rather than my church experience by my Bible. Maybe that's your story, too. As I began to understand the Bible, it began to change my attitude toward the church for three reasons: 
  • God's love for the church
  • God's purpose for establishing the church
  • God's mission for the church
I'm not naive. I realize the church is by no means perfect. As I grow in my understanding of what God wants the church to be, however, I can resonate with pastor Art Azurdia's quote: "Any problem I have with the church must be a lover's quarrel." 

That brings me to my offer-slash-challenge to you. For one week, come back to church with me. 

On Sept. 7, - that's this Sunday - my wife Emily and I are hoping to have some friends come with us to church. Lunch will be our treat afterward, because we are that passionate about reconnecting our friends to the church. 

I attend a church called Holy Cross, and you can visit the church's Web site here.  It's located right across the street from the Gypsy Hill Park football field and Tams Lake. Church will start at 11 and finish up around 12:30. We'll come up with a quick eating arrangement that will allow any who chose so to be home by kick-off. If you want to stay and talk afterward, we'll stay after lunch for as long as you have questions. 

I write these blogs at conversation-starters. I would love to hear your heartfelt, respectfully communicated views on the church. 


Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here