Marco, Abraham and I are sitting here in a coffee shop in Memphis all checked in and ready to learn at MLK50. Little did I know that 11 years ago I would undergo a God brought ripping out of deeply ingrained blindness and ignorance. That was the day my family started fostering Daniel, my youngest son. Daniel is African-American or black, whichever you prefer and does not offend you. We were not biased, but we were blind.
What I discovered and am discovering is too long for a single post, but sitting here I’m feeling the weight of the absolute necessity to get race and unity right in the kingdom of God in my small town.
Things move slower and with more difficulty in small towns. That does not means we don’t push, its just harder. Too many issues to simply unpack in a small post.
Marco and Abraham represent two different experiences of immigration from being second generation to first generation and from Mexican to Ecuadorian. Many assume Marco’s story is the same as Abe’s because some assume they are of the same background. Also, these young men have seen and experienced a whole different part of life than those of us in the majority.
Usually, those of us in the majority hear this kind of stuff and we deny, deflect or flat out reject their narrative. We can’t do that.
What are some things we have to do?
- Listen. We have to take the posture of a learner. Listen. Learn. Affirm. Empathize.
- Do something to begin building bridges. In my case it was fostering and adopting and learning a different culture.
- Begin to raise up minority cultures into leadership in the local church. I have great hope for these men. Marco is a leader in our pipeline. Abraham is a young leader in our pipeline. They are going to preach and teach on MLK’s life with me from a leading and minority perspective. I want more. I desire African-American leadership in our church. I pray for more, and work with open eyes to see this happen.
- Do work in the public square. If we only work with other Christians we’ll continue to be irrelevant to the city, and ultimately never learn other cultures outside the Christian subculture, and that Christian subculture is not healthy. Different post for a different time.
- Don’t pretend that inside of the Christian culture among different ethnicities that what we believe is the same. We have to work to find doctrinal common ground. That’s hard for me. I’m aware of doctrinal distinctives and practices that prevent some levels of work. I can’t help that. It’s my wiring, but that also requires work to find areas of agreement, work in those, and disciple the next generation of minorities to value their culture and doctrinal distinctives. I’m convinced we can do that. How? I’m trying to figure that out, but I’m aware, and I care, and I’m grinding it out.
- Don’t assume the narrative us majority folks have heard about MLK is all true. We’ve been told a caricature story by people who were jaded and misinformed. Are there challenges? Yes. But what MLK got right, he got way right and had to learn it outside evangelicalism because we wouldn’t let him in. Read “Bloodlines” by Piper. It’s sad. We all love C.S. Lewis and excuse his awful doctrinal positions on hell and some weird universalism, but with MLK we pick on his doctrinal positions and disregard him. Why? The answer is disturbing. Don’t try to answer that if you want to keep the blinders on.
Sorry if this is rambling or offensive. But I’m processing on the go here, and want to put it out there. If you are offended, take it up with Jesus. This has been my journey, and you don’t have to listen. If you are confused and a majority person, just begin to ask some questions, make some friends of a different color, learn from them and see if it affects your thoughts.
I’m sure there is more to come, but this is a good start.