Persecution

Bursting the bubble of the ‘post racial society’ illusion: An open letter to my white brothers and sisters in Christ Part 1

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AN OPEN LETTER TO MY WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST

“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.” Genesis 9:18-19

Me as a very cute little girl growing up in the 70's post the Civil Rights Era but during the Black Power Movement.
Me as a very cute little girl growing up in the 70’s post the Civil Rights Era but during the Black Power Movement.

The 1st people group that I ever identified with was that of African Americans. Years later, after growing up in America and experiencing the joy and pride of my 1st community as well as a mixture of love, acceptance, prejudice and racism from those of the majority culture, I became a follower of Christ, and I was now identified with another people group. Both my original identifier and my newfound one were groups of people who had experienced extreme persecution and oppression historically, and had been victimized by others worldwide. My now identifying with Christ and all of his followers, as well as praying for them and grieving with them as believers faced persecution in my life time, did not cancel out my being a part of the people group that I was born into. My joining in the fight for equal treatment under the law for African Americans, and bringing to light injustice in this country does not cancel out my being a follower of Christ. But I have found that in the eyes and hearts of many, that’s exactly what it does.

I have shared news recently that greatly impacts the body of Christ and I have also shared news that greatly impacts the African American community, and I am realizing more and more that these two can be treated as if they are totally unrelated. They are not, as we are not.  Where my white brothers and sisters in Christ, for the most part, can sympathize with the persecution of other believers and even empathize and grieve with/for them, many either cannot, or choose not to empathize or grieve with their African America Christian counterparts when given the opportunity. And if any grief is momentarily shared, it has a time limit attached to it. That being said, I am a believer who is black. Go figure.

(almost totally unrelated sidebar; the historic account of the Ethiopian Eunuch found in Acts 8 points out that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was not unknown to the people of Africa.  We will come back to this later.) “And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.” Pagans and savages did not do that.)

As such, I share a lot about news stories that stand out to me in the hopes of making people think, and to challenge world views that are held that do not line up with what Christ taught. I share posts voicing my opposition to abortion and the fact that Margaret Sanger designed Planned Parenthood to get rid of black people….to kill them before they were ever born… but I do not hate those who are pro-choice. I share posts standing for the Biblical definition of marriage, but I do not hate homosexuals. I share posts exposing racism and hatred based on skin color and exposing the evil of the justice system in this country, and the systemic criminalization of Black people, but I do not hate white people. As a result of my many posts exposing and challenging views about racism (and there have been many), there are those among my white brothers and sisters who have now labeled my family racists, and do not want to see my family at church anymore. There are those who say that the recent (3 months) worth of posts have been exclusively “Black this and black that” and they are sick of it. They are tired of seeing it in their newsfeed. There are those who believe that all I have shared is negativity. There are those who have unfriended my family and labeled us as now preachers of hate and not preachers of the Gospel. All of this and more because of news stories shared on Facebook. Does anyone other than me see a problem here? We have not changed as a family. The current issue that we happen to be confronting is simply a more difficult one for people to come to terms with. As Christians, for the most part, we can agree on the issue of abortion. For the most part we can agree on the danger of ISIS and the need to pray and stand against that. But sadly, we do not agree on issues of racism. My life experience has given me a different perspective than some of yours, and I share from that perspective partnered with what Gods Word teaches us, and many are increasingly, overwhelmingly uncomfortable. So I am called names. And my family members are called names. And I receive hate filled messages. Because somehow it is still not understood that we are the same. Now, understand that when I say that we have not changed, I am referring to our faith and commitment to Christ. It has not wavered or diminished. We have not changed. But what I am realizing is that many just never got to know us as well as they thought they did in those 2 hour a week services. We still love God. We still love people. We still stand and speak out against injustice, but we now realize that what we view as injustice is not what many of you view as injustice. What we feel passionately about speaking out against, you do not feel passionately about speaking out against. Our
wakeup3goal as a family was to wake people up. Our goal was to raise awareness to what we viewed as the senseless murders of unarmed black men, and the systemic abuse of black people that has remained the status quo in America during and since slavery. Many hold to the belief that the Civil Rights Act did away with all of that, but as I have often said, you can’t legislate the heart. The Civil Rights Act simply gave the white citizens of America whose hearts overflowed with venom for the African American people, boundaries on how far they could go legally in their efforts to rid the “stain” of brown skin from this country. It did not remove the venom. Do you understand? I need you to see and know that horrible evils still take place in this country to the people who look like me, and you need me to see and know that things are not like they used to be, and you need me to understand this while I watch an unarmed black boys body lay in the street with part of his face blown off and his brains oozing out from gunfire by a police officer, for four hours. You need me to understand while I watch an unarmed, black, father of six and grandfather being choked to death, and then see the police walk away without penalty. I want you to stand and fight with me for things to continue to change, and you want me to acknowledge that there have been changes and IF progress is still needed, I just need to understand that it takes time. But how much time? Today marks the 59th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a young black boy was found

This noose was found hanging in the work vehicle of the son of a friend who lives in Florida...2 weeks ago.
This noose was found hanging in the work vehicle of the son of a friend who lives in Florida…2 weeks ago.

hanging in NC a couple of months ago.How much time is still needed?

Life is about perspective, but perspectives change all of the time. We hear good movie reviews and decide to see it. Then we hear some really bad ones and decide to wait until it comes out on dvd. Our perspective on whether or not we should spend $54 (for our family) or $15 was impacted by information. How often have we lived to see our perspectives change? But in this area…racism and it’s lasting effects on this country, on the church, I have found that many of my conservative brothers and sisters hold their position. I don’t understand, but I do not harbor hatred. My perspective on the current events we are facing on this front are not what they were a year or two ago. They have continued to grow, and evolve. While I don’t blame you for holding to a perspective that I disagree with, I pray that yours will not remain the same in this crucial area. At the same time, I believe that the descendants of slaves have proven over and over again in this country, that we patiently wait and hope for change, understanding that some changes take more time than others.

I have always been a person who believed that prayer (our communication with God) and the sharing of perspectives and information (our communication with each other), changes things. Sin is a human condition. It knows no color and does not operate within the parameters that our flesh has established. It is not black, white, or brown. To continue to insist in word or deed, that one people group is inherently superior to another based on racist ideology is a huge fallacy that many who name Christ fall for daily.  Following are just a couple of areas where perspectives of white and black Christians seem to differ substantially. I will be discussing these topics in upcoming posts.

The sanctity of the flag and US Constitution

The ‘sovereignty’ of American soil

The value of the descendants of slaves (human beings)

The presumed guilt of black people

I will also be covering, for the sake of sharing historical information, as well as assisting in the development of empathy and compassion, posts about the following subjects;

Brief historical overview of Black Economics

Brief historical overview of the Black Family

Brief historical overview of Black Education

Brief historical overview of Black Politics

Brief historical overview of Blacks in Prison

Gods word tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Let us begin to do this together in the area that is currently dividing our nation again. Remember, communicating about the issue is not what causes division. Ignoring the issue is.

“When Christ Calls A Man…”

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I first heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer after my marriage to Ukali in 1994.  His father had given him “The Cost of Discipleship” by Bonhoeffer, and that book radically impacted his understanding of what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The book did not replace God’s Word, but it worked in conjunction with, or alongside of it to ‘sure up’ the foundation he had, and to further define what authentic Christianity looked like, and Dietrich’s legacy has helped to do the same for me. It has given me great pleasure during the last couple of years to introduce Dietrich and his legacy to our children through homeschooling.  My husband was searching for “The Cost of Discipleship”  this morning (not the one his father gave him…he loaned that copy years ago and never got it back, then another, then another…this is the most recent copy that we gave him last Christmas :D), and he couldn’t find it because it was in our 13-year-old sons reading pile!  I couldn’t help but smile…my son was reading “The Cost of Discipleship”…and I thought to myself that if I was in introduced to and learned about him in my 20’s, and they in their teens and preteens, how old (or young) will my grandchildren be when they meet him for the first time.  The strength of conviction about gaining and maintaining a Biblical Worldview found within the pages of this book are life-changing.  This also caused me to think about the fact that there are so many great things that are not taught in schools…so many great people who, if we leave it up to the schools, our kids will never learn about.  With so many changes taking place in the educational system of our country and on their focus, let’s commit to teaching our children, through our actions and words, as well as God’s word and the lives of others, what morality and integrity and humility and character look like.  If all they have is erroneous history books and this fallen world’s idols to look at, they may never see it. In writing this, I also understand that there are some who have never had the blessing of being introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and if that is you, read on :D. There’s just a little history…a summary of his life if you will…that I hope will spark a desire to know more about him, and even to purchase some of his books or get them from your local library. For those of you who are already acquainted, enjoy the ‘brief’ summation and renew your relationship with this humble servant of Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906, and was murdered on Hitlers orders in 1945.  He was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was a devoted pacifist, who believed that the way of Christ and violence were in direct opposition to each other.  It was this heartfelt belief that caused him much inner turmoil as he learned of and witnessed the obscenely horrendous violations against humanity, specifically Jews and blacks, that were being administered by Hitler and his Nazi Regime.  Dietrich ultimately concluded that to sit back and do nothing was even more egregious than to join the fight against it, knowing that violence against Hitler would be involved.  So Bonhoeffer joined the German Resistance Movement against Nazism.  His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler were discovered, and led to his arrest in April 1943, and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end. During the two years that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned at Tegel, he kept a daily routine of Bible Reading, Prayer, and singing many hymns that he had memorized.  He spent 18 months in a room that was 6×9, “with a bed, a stool, a shelf,  a blanket and a bucket.” The room was sealed with “a board door with an observation hole that looked from the outside in, and a skylight window above head height on the opposite side.”  During the two years that he was interrogated he was permitted to have visitors and receive letters.  He frequently wrote to his parents to reassure them that he was doing well and did not want them to worry.

While imprisoned, and fully aware of the torture and persecution that awaited him, Bonhoeffer feared that the intensity of the torture may cause him to ‘give up’ his friends and co-laborers in the Gospel as well as The Resistance. He considered suicide as a way out, and on a piece of paper which had survived his first weeks in prison, he wrote, “Suicide, not because of consciousness of guilt, but basically, because I am already dead.”  Had Dietrich given in to this temptation, he would have missed the joy he found in ministering the Gospel to those who were sick and dying in chains as he was, as well as those charged with guarding the prisoners.  He was respectfully referred to as “The Prisoners Pastor.”  Dietrich worked diligently to provide comfort and discipleship to those held captive by the Nazis, although he had a chance to escape, aided by a guard, he refused for fear that more of his family and co-laborers would suffer for him.  In October 1944, Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo prison in Berlin. In February 1945, he was taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and then to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he was hanged on April 9, 1945.  He was 39 years old, had never married, and served the Lord in faithfulness until his death.  His final recorded words;  “This is the end…for me, the beginning of life.” Three weeks after Hitler orderd the death of Dietrich, and all of those viewed as enemies of the state, it is believed that Hitler himself committed suicide.

Well, that’s it.  That’s his story in a nutshell, but trust me, there is soooo much more to the story!! This history is great to share with your family or your children.  I pray that this has been informative and encouraging!  If you are new to Bonhoeffer, please let me know and share what you learn.  If you have been previously introduced, please let me know what has impacted you most about his life and legacy.  For more information please check out the following resources;

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Letters-Cell-Correspondence-Bonhoeffer/dp/0687010985/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336583788&sr=8-1

http://www.visionforum.com/browse/product/dietrich-bonhoeffer/?search=bonhoeffer

http://www.visionforum.com/browse/product/dietrich-bonhoeffer/?search=bonhoeffer