They've done what so many say can't be done. Reverend Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani transformed a slowly dying all-white congregation into a diverse community full of the least of these. Chronicled in the pages of "Beyond the Possible" is a voice that stands out against the cynical voices so often heard when people herald change. Cecil and Janice evoke the deeper hopes of change and transformation the bellows deep within the Christian tradition.
After all, Warren Buffett, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, and Bono all endorse their work. It's hard to come by that diverse of an endorsement. Yet what makes their story so provocative is the endorsement of a changed community. It's not the words of famous and respected people that make this community stand out, it's the transformation that the community has made.
It also takes love.
As one journeys through "Beyond the Possible" they will find themselves challenged and provoked. It's as though one reads a contemporary gospel. No, Cecil and Janice aren't messianic. They are, however, living into a love like grace under pressure. They are helping communities see the Jesus in each other.
Anyone reading this work shouldn't expect a step-by-step model. In the stories, the challenges, and the hopes people will see that all communities are capable of radical transformation. The question is, how do we continue to live into unconditional love? What does that look like? Cecil and Janice demonstrate it well. There's too many words to share on this, but I will leave you with one quote from Cecil, one that gracefully haunts me:
"We don't expect any particular outcome, and we don't judge them for being in the food lines in the first place. We're in for the long haul. We persist in accepting them and loving them without condition because their humanity is our humanity."
By Cecil Williams & Janice Mirikitani
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