Scrolling through my Instagram feed, the name ‘Tasha Cobbs Leonard” catches my eye under a Nicki Minaj post. This is an anomaly, a misnomer even. These two worlds are unrelated. True, there has been some discourse regarding the propriety of Tasha Cobbs Leonard having Nicki Minaj as a featured artist on her new album, but given that this conversation about artist crossovers often repeat the same arguments, I paid it no mind. Problem was this also meant I paid very little attention to the release dates for Ms. Leonard’s album and so was very much out of the loop in terms of single release dates.

Playing in the video on Nicki’s Instagram post was the song ‘Your Spirit’ featuring Kierra Sheard and the snippet I heard had me rushing to YouTube for a full version. As a long-time lover of Mrs. Leonard’s work, I am always excited when she releases an album because apart from being a stellar vocalist, she is a worshiper. God’s love of worship is documented in the Bible. He loves to hear our voices raised in celebration of his wonder. Over and again, Tasha Cobbs Leonard produces work that does just that.

The song ‘Your Spirit’ is one of those songs that heals your heart. It is worship in its purest form. Asking God to ‘breathe’ on you, requesting his very essence: “the breath of life” is a show of understanding that we do this ‘not by might, not by power’ but by HIS SPIRIT.

There is a line in the song ‘You are the voice, we are your song’ that completely floored me.  It took me right to my knees. The idea that we are melodies God is creating. Through us, God has created beautiful music. When we listen to phenomenal music; like this very song, there is a serenity brought on by pleasure. Good music leaves us in ‘awe’ – an idea that is re-iterated in this song; ‘we stand in awe of you.’ If we look to God as a talented vocalist in the way we look at artists like Tasha, Whitney, Beyoncé, Tamela, Mariah, then our adoration should be endless.

Today fandoms have names, they are often categorized by their complete and utter surrender to the belief in their chosen artist as perfect. Much in the same way, God’s fans do have a name – CHRISTIANS. We are meant, never to lose sight of his perfection and should be out there proclaiming his majesty even when the backlash is overwhelming. The first thing that should define us to everyone around us is that we STAN for God.

Here’s the thing, the artists we STAN for are easy to support because they are malleable to changes of the world. They can adapt their presentation and marketing to suit trends thus keeping the favour of the many. God is absolute. He does not change. The same yesterday, today AND forever. Not swayed by trends, he is not always in popular favour. How easy is it to be a CHRISTIAN when popular consensus says that not on trend?

That’s the point of this song, recognising that we – despite being God’s beautiful song, are, on our own: flat. Without God as the voice, we are one note. ‘Not by might, not by power, by your spirit God. Spirit breath on us.’ Take it all to him because that which we fear is a walk in the park for God.

“Ye thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid. For God is with me, my rod and my staff they comfort me.”

The morning after the Grenfell Fire began, I woke up to a Facebook request from a friend in Bangladesh asking that I mark myself as safe in the “Fire of London”. This request was unnecessary for someone like myself who lives just outside London but what struck me about this phrasing was that the fire was described as “of London”. And this description, upon considering the residential makeup of the tower proved apt. The tower, located in one of the most affluent boroughs of the city housed multi-cultural, multi-national people more reflective of the city of London than the borough in which it was built.

Grenfell tower was and is “London” as many of us understand the city to be, it is then a shame that those in positions of power, charged with caring for London chose not to honour the city in the decisions made regarding construction of that building and many like it. This realisation following many weeks of seeing people in leadership continue to push personal over public agendas made me think about the Biblical mandate that asks us to honour our leaders. It has been hard to see many of these individuals as God-ordained based on the decisions they are making regarding the people they’ve been charged to care for.

Rightly so, messages in Christian spaces have asked that we pray for the victims – the people who woke up to find their sanctuary ablaze at a magnitude that continues to shock many. Construction of outreach programmes to support the victims has been a true show of love that negates this narrative of division amongst humanity based on religion, race or creed. It has been wonderful to see people across all age groups working together to provide and produce measures that at least temporarily will give a measure of relief to these families and individuals.

However, I cannot help but continue to look at the leadership that failed the people of Grenfell Tower. The fact that the love of money overcame human decency continues to be a narrative we hear about leaders around the world. The fact that it still shocks is a testament to general belief in the goodness of humanity even when there is so much saying otherwise. I want to channel; despite the rage that threatens to bubble over in me when I hear about governmental negligence, all my angst into prayers. These prayers need to encompass those in power in this country especially in a period where there is a power tussle occurring following the confusing general election results. I feel like God is challenging me to pray for the leadership of this country – a leadership that is looking more like a corporate organisation than a government.

I want to live in a world where people are worth more than any monetary figure and helpless as I and many feel, I am taking my fight on my knees and straight to God because right now ignoring the clear Godly void in our governmental organisations feels like a giving in to an anger that seems to be the minority inheritance in this country. There’s no space for anger in me right now, there’s too much every day to be angry about.

It is always a comic moment when a TV character prays to “Black Jesus”,  that distinction suggests that the Jesus of black people differs from that of mainstream Caucasian depictions of Jesus, the one accepted by churches across the world. I am sure the ‘black Jesus’ trope occurs in varying forms across the globe as people seek to see themselves reflected within the religion not just spiritually but physically also.

Whilst I am amongst the team of people that laugh heartily at a good “Black Jesus” reference, it is also concerning to see that divide within the Christian community. The essential message of Christianity is oneness – God sees us all the same, as reflections of himself. As a father, anyone who wholeheartedly follows him becomes part of the family, coming essentially into a siblinghood. But it is becoming clear each day that race and perception are affecting the unity we are supposed to have within the church.

Sometimes, I respect the Muslim dictate that bans any and all depictions of the Prophet Muhammed. The idea that the essence of ‘God’ cannot be captured by man and as such should not be attempted is a sensible rationale because it stops people from spending time debating the physicality of God and keeps their focus on serving him. However, I also understand that as a people, we are very visual. Documenting our histories through pictures as well as words helps us to remember. Looking at the creation narrative, we see that the first thing God added to the formless earth was light. Inherently sight, and seeing were an important base in the creation narrative. On completing creation, the Bible explicitly tells us that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31),  meaning that there was a link between sight and appreciation for our Creator in whose image we are made.

Race: whatever its origin, is essentially separatism based on physicality. What a person looks like creates an idea of who they are before we even have a conversation with them. This assumption be it positive or negative dictates our approach to that individual and usually sets the tone for that relationship. Within the church, race is a conversation very markedly ignored because of the discomfort it incites; to acknowledge race is to challenge the notion of singularity in God’s house. However, irrespective of the race dominant in the church, race is still an issue within Christianity based simply on the accepted physical representations and symbols the church uses.

Because of the assumption that Christianity – despite Biblically having origins in the Middle East – is a Western religion, its symbolisms are highly Westernised. From the depictions of Jesus to the acceptance of the King James’ version of the Bible as standard, there is a very Eurocentric image that has been normalised. There was a period where I was very aggravated by what I deemed Nigerian Christianity and so I fled from predominantly black churches, assuming already that they were all talk and no walk.

Walking into a predominantly white church made me think about my understanding of culture and how insidious my belief that ‘white culture’ does not exist was. The ‘us’ and ‘them’ discussions that came up on the pulpit, where ‘white saviour’ complexes came into play gave me great insight into how ingrained the belief in Christianity as a white birthright is. A great deal of the outreach was geared towards foreign countries with local and national affairs being less of a concern. The goal always being to recreate models of Christianity that worked in the U.K in these countries regardless of economic and cultural circumstance.

I do not condemn these efforts to ‘go ye therefore into the world and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19),  what I question is the singular model of Christianity that seeks erasure of one culture to make room for another. While it is easy to spot the infiltration of church with certain cultural practices close to home, I can’t help: based on experience, question the foundation of modern Christianity as a whole, especially when it comes to representation.

Conversations with black women especially who are leaving the church owing to feeling unseen or under represented has led me to ask: who built the church as we know it? I cannot help but wonder if there is a fundamental flaw to how church is being practiced and how we can fix it.

Going through transitional moments in life can be all consuming. That decision to move from one phase to another suddenly defines everything that we are and despite knowing that our lives need balance, we give that one issue, that fear of the unknown greater weight and important aspects of our lives fall to the wayside.

Prayer becomes quickly mutter ‘Oh my God’s’ and ‘Please God’ in moments of exasperation, the worry means that Bible study is not done or done half-heartedly. It’s not that we stop believing or lose our trust in God, it’s just that we become too concerned navigating and imagining the “what ifs” and the desired outcomes that we forget to simply “make our requests known” leave it with God.

The fear of the unknown leaves us doubting the known. Staring in the dark hole of an unplanned future leads us to turning away from ‘THE LIGHT’.

Sure the Bible is full of scriptures that deal with worry and anxiety and these are scriptures that have been read and re-read. Scriptures that run through our head when the panic gets to us but because of the situation, we fail to truly meditate on the word. We simply repeat in search of short-term comfort but fail to key into the words.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

One of the best ways I have found to deal with these moments is visual reminders. Philippians 4 is a fantastic scripture that reminds us to not only to cease worry but also to remain prayer focused. In moments of anxiety, printing this out and sticking it in a prominent place around me that requires me to stare at it, forces me to take a moment out of my day to pray using only this as a guide.

I pray against worry either verbally or in writing. Under this verse, I make space for post it notes so that I can simply write down my prayer for that day/moment and stick it underneath. This allows me to go back and pick a prayer point that I can repeat for a few hours or at intervals for the rest of the day. Learning that prayer doesn’t have to be an elaborate show means that I am able to use praying as a way of focus. Instead of trying to collect my muddled thoughts in an equally muddled cycle of prayer, I focus on the prayer point that came/comes to me from focusing on this scripture and talk it through with God. This conversation takes the form of a plea (petition), an intense conversation (prayer) or song (thanksgiving).

Forcing myself to come in contact with God’s word even if it’s just these two verses for a week or month allows me to overcome that feeling of being depleted by the unknown. It prevents me from shutting down in my journey with God and makes space for the Holy spirit to inspire.


Changing our church is something many of us find hard to do even when the church we regularly attend is no longer serving the purpose of nurturing our needs as Christians. Tamela Mann sings about being ‘all church’d out’ a line I interpret to mean being disillusioned with the church.

Church forms such an integral part of being a Christian. For many of us it’s the only thing keeping us rooted in our relationship with God. The privilege of coming from ‘Christian homes’ is what keeps us going back each Sunday and helping us maintain our practice. Praying regularly and reading the Bible requires a constancy that comes from focused practice. However, the wrong church can also kill our dedication to God. If we do not feel motivated by the Christians around us, then becoming a ‘Sunday Christian’ or a ‘Form Filling Christian’ is where we are definitely headed.

If we look at Paul’s letters to the Churches in the New Testament, the churches either thrived together in God or failed together in God. It’s hard to maintain the kind of godliness you aspire to if those around you cannot support it and staying out of loyalty to the people leads to you adopting more of their practice than standing in your truth. 

Despite being very active in church, I had long ago checked out. This was due to my dissatisfaction with a community that spent more time talking at each other than practising the talk. My developed interests in inequality across the country/world meant that I was itching to do more. Sunday school had taught me about a religion formed out of action. Jesus ‘was sent down by God’, the disciples ‘left their boats’, the widow ‘shared her last oil and flour’. People made sacrifices in order to serve and whilst I saw many non-Christians working with the intention that ‘being good’ was the way forward, I was part of a church that seemed comfortable insulating itself. 

 Domestic violence, a problem very big in the Nigerian community was seen as a private matter and the victims were simply told to pray for God to change the assailant’s heart. There were no provisions made to ensure the victim was able to escape the situation and create space between themselves and the assailant. Divorce as sinful overshadowed the need to care for the physical bodies being hurt. The LGBTQX community was viewed as such an abomination that it stopped people from speaking about God to anyone deemed not heterosexual. This contradicted my understanding of our relationships with God as personal. Chances for individuals to know God on a personal level were taken away because of pre-judgements about who God was able to love. The ‘sin’ and ‘sinner’ were immediately linked as being one and the same. “Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.”

This experience really hurt my connection with God. I took out my frustration with the establishment on God and slowly but surely pulled away till I was an undergraduate who spent her Sundays sleeping in and dropped prayer from her life. Coming towards the end of my degree and beginning to contemplate the future, the reality of a life without God and the church community didn’t sit well with me. Whilst I had my hang ups, there was still something about being part of Christ’s body that was magic. Over the last two years, God had been trying to get my attention – I’d fall to my knees in worship but being stubborn I resisted thinking about what this meant. My decision following acknowledgement of my discomfort is one I describe as rationale, fitting with my love for research but odds are God just used my interest to gain my attention. I rationed that it was wrong to dismiss God and church without exploring it personally – on my terms.

So I wrote down what I wanted from church, the things I wanted to be able to do with people of God. Then I prayed about it. And I kept praying as I prepared to move to a new city for my Master’s degree. I kid you not, the first church I walked into was IT. The message that evening hit on so many things that were on my heart. Imagine that: an offhand comment to a PhD student during my induction led to her raving about this church. Here I also found a mid-week group where I was able to share my frustrations and not be immediately censured. In this year, I slowly found God on a personal basis, I came to understand that I could speak to him like a friend not just in the set “prayer warrior”mode I’d seen. I flourished.