Monday, August 3, 2015
Racial prejudice can be overcome
Cindy and I were part of a ministry team in the early 1980’s called “Damascus Road,” which was under the umbrella of New Directions International. The other team members were Joel and Sonia, a couple who had been a part of the New Directions for many years before we showed up on the scene. Joel was the leader of Damascus Road, and he and Sonia were the primary musicians and singers. Cindy and I sang back up and worked hard at trying not to mess up the songs.
My job was to help line up the bookings for the group, to help Joel with the equipment at each concert, and to give the message. It was during these two years that I cut my teeth in preaching, and learned many lessons the hard way. I remember Joel sitting me down after a trip to Columbus, Georgia. He told me what the pastor of the church there had said about my preaching: “You’re not good at it.” I was crushed, but thankful that my friend Joel would speak the truth in love. During a period of soul-searching and prayer, God reconfirmed his call to me to preach, but he also showed me how I had depended more on my ‘abilities’ than on his.
I also came face to face with my own prejudice during those years, and God did a marvelous thing. As we traveled and sang and prayed and ate and lodged with Joel and Sonia, who are black, we saw how much we were alike. We also came to understand and appreciate our cultural differences and to love each other through them all.
Cindy and I started having children when we were still traveling with Damascus Road, and Joel and Sonia were our first teachers in the area of child-rearing. We learned as much about loving and disciplining our children from them as we did from the books that we read at that time.
The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” I look back to those days when we walked together with Joel and Sonia with great fondness, and thank God for using them to change our hearts. Perhaps the best way to overcome racial prejudice is to work together on the same team.
Tom Skinner used to say that racism is a sin problem, not a skin problem. That’s why only Christ can heal the divide.