His Testimonies Are My Heritage

 
Elicia Horton | August 28th 2019

I have grown up the majority of my life not really knowing or understanding much about my Mexican, Spanish and Native American heritage. I just know I have a deep love for Mexican food, and my Native American roots quickly come to the surface when the sun hits my skin and leaves it a golden shade of brown. 

Because I didn’t grow up knowing much about my heritage, I didn’t celebrate it. On one side of my family, the older generations encouraged us to become “Americanized,” in hopes of better opportunities. To them, americanization equaled opportunity. For them, dreams were things that often went unrealized, for opportunities were not afforded to those from a country where poverty was as common as brown eyes and brown skin. 

His Testimonies, My Heritage

His Testimonies, My Heritage

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Hear the voices of women of color on the most important subject in any age—the word of God

America: the dream, the nightmare

For some of my ancestors, coming to America was a dream. For the indigenous part of my heritage, “America” was a nightmare that came upon them through the idea of someone else’s “manifest destiny.” When talking to other Latinas and indigenous people—both Christian and non-Christian—I have discovered we are alike in many ways. Outwardly, we display very different and beautiful shades of brown. Inwardly, the fight and fate of our ancestors still brings a force of reckoning that is undeniable. And even though we may be separated by faith and last names, we share a commonality that unites our hearts—to make the dreams of our ancestors a reality for future generations. A dream to escape decades of poverty and to have an actual house instead of a makeshift shed. A dream to enjoy land, freedoms and rights that are equal to those who have migrated here. A dream of a life worth telling your great-grandchildren about.

I am that great-grandchild. Cause and effect would demand that my response to the harsh realities of my ancestors (and contemporaries) would be bitterness and anger and a demand for a great accounting. But my faith is one of grace. My God is the God in whom justice is present but grace is never absent. What is unjust (from an earthly point of view) is that a holy and perfect God chose to send his Son to die for unholy and unrighteous sinners such as us. How could I hold anyone in contempt and withhold grace from them when I have been forgiven for all of my sins?

I want you to know that your feelings surrounding that disconnect are valid. Your pain and scars are real, and your story is not done being written.

Psalm 119

God, who is rich in mercy and grace, has given me a new life and a new identity. He has provided for me a heritage that will outlast all generations. When I read Psalm 119, it is verse 111 that inspires me and pierces my heart at the same time:

Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.

God’s “testimonies” are the countless and innumerable ways that the Creator has loved and cared for his creation and his people. From general revelation in his creation to specific revelation in his word, God has displayed his goodness, love, and justice to all. Maybe you’re reading this today, and, like me, you feel a disconnect with who you are because of your past. Maybe you were adopted, or maybe you grew up not knowing one or both of your parents. Maybe you were taken away from your family, or maybe you had to make the tough decision to leave your family behind. Maybe you don’t know where you’re from. I want you to know that your feelings surrounding that disconnect are valid. Your pain and scars are real, and your story is not done being written.

Because of his great love for me and for you, God wants us to experience that overwhelming sense of assurance that no earthquake can shake. By grace we have been saved to be alive as God’s chosen people during this specific corridor of time. Even though we may have few stories of our ethnic heritage, we have a faith that is full of testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

This is an adapted excerpt from His Testimonies, My Heritage, inspiring collection of devotions is by a diverse group of women of color—African-American, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian women.  Hear the voices of women of color on the most important subject in any age—the word of God. Buy it here.

Elicia Horton

Elicia Horton is a Director of Women's Ministry at Reach Fellowship Church, Long Beach, CA and an author, speaker and writer.

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