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She Thought I Was God

From the privileged, precarious and sometime prickly seat of the Pastorate, you experience and witness all kinds of unusual things. One of my many unusual experiences both warmed my heart and gave me spiritual indigestion. Unknown to me or her mother, a daughter (about 4-5 years old) of one of the most faithful and conscientious servants in the church went for a period of time stubbornly convinced that I was God.
 
Initially it struck me as really cute and adorable because the little girl was cute and adorable, but the implications of it quickly settled into my restless soul. For the period she was convinced I was God, what did her little eyes see me doing? What did her little ears hear me say, and was there an imprint based upon how I said it? How did it all settle into her little tender instinct and judgment of what she could conclude about God?
 
Likewise, on the issue of race, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation, I’m asking myself, ”What is our younger generation learning from us as they quietly observe, absorb and interpret our actions and non-action, conversations, attitudes, values and our spoken and unspoken priorities? 
 
You can revisit them for yourself, but be reminded that Jesus issued bone-chilling, dire advisories regarding hurt and harm of children. Perhaps a really revealing and simple question I can ask myself is this: “When I’m standing in the brilliant, revealing light of “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; And secondly, love your neighbor (who is everybody I encounter) as yourself (Luke 10:27),” can I credibly claim the first commandment if I’m failing the second commandment? Can we talk?

Randy Haynes is a consultant on staff with NorthStar Church Network, focusing on issues of racism, diversity, and reconciliation. Email him at to join in the conversation.

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No Kissing!

In 1967, Richard and Mildred Loving of Caroline County, VA had cause to celebrate.  Their interracial marriage had previously triggered  a court judgment against them, but their later suit (Loving v. U.S.) resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed all state statutes that forbade interracial marriage.
 
While laws that forbid discriminatory practices are needed and helpful in a myriad of situations and circumstances, a stubborn ugly truth refuses to bow, and that truth is this: You can’t legislate the human heart nor issue court orders for biases that crawl into the crevices of our broken humanity. So, how are we (the church) doing in the domains of spoken and unspoken thought, values and attitudes about interracial couplings that periodically pop up in and around our holy huddles?  Do we still shoot shady glances of disapproval to interracial couples as they sit in worship? Do we publicly glad-hand them to their faces and then hiss about them behind their backs? Outside of the hearing of parental units, do we utter inappropriate comments to biracial children who may be too young to even discern an inappropriate jab? Do we understand that in some instances in some of our churches, interracial couples feel like ships without a port?
 
Do we proactively teach about the barrier-busting Jesus as a way to help our local church communities be safe places? Do we pensively tolerate racist individuals in the church and use talk of “grace” as an excuse for not addressing their sinful intentionality or poisonous ignorance? Have we consciously thought about seed-planting behavior that influences children for their right now behavior, and how it also (likely) forges the trajectory of their future convictions about diversity, race, inclusion and reconciliation?
 
When man’s bent laws and polluted proclivities contravene God’s laws and expectations, look for the signal and certainty of spiritual warfare.  The question that ricochets around the hurting chamber of my heart is, “Are we truly in the fight, or have we made an unspoken decision to sit this one (issue) out?"

Why, Mama, Why?


Why, Mama, why?
Some of these questions l actually asked in childhood.
Others I still ask today.
Some are the natural ​inquisitiveness of youth.
Others, in retrospect, are more penetrating and timeless.
Maybe some of these are your questions, too.

Mama--

  • Why aren't there any colored people in our church?
  • Why do the houses of colored folks look so sad?
  • Why is it that many of them don't have inside bathrooms?
  • Why are so many colored people poor?
  • Why is it they have to use a yard hand pump to get water?
  • Why is it wrong to say Coon Town?
  • Why do our colored friends now want to be called black?
  • Why did my school teacher say something that was very close to the N-word?
  • Will she have to wash her mouth out with soap?
  • Why do m​e and Nora have to go to separate school​s​?
  • Why does Daddy have so many black friends?
  • Why is it that so many black men say they like to work for Daddy?
  • Why are they so happy on pay day when Daddy writes the checks?
  • Why do you and Daddy want to have a Christmas Service for black folks on our farm?
  • Why do you and Daddy now want to have farm Sunday School for our black friends?
  • Why did that other deacon talk so mean-like to Daddy and say that we shouldn't have the black Sunday School?
  • Why did he walk away when Daddy said that everybody needs God?
  • Why is it that so many of our black friends come to our Sunday School?
  • Why does my friend Nora not have a nice basketball goal like me?
  • Why do we kids still have to ride separate buses even though we now go to the same school?
  • Why is it such a big deal that we white kids and black kids rode the same bus together​ all the way to Dallas for the student conference?
  • Why is it such a shock to my church friends that Brother Singleton spent the night at our house?
  • Why don't any other white moms let their boys spend the night at a black friend's house?
  • ​Why do folks not understand when me and Johnny do an opposite joke when I called him a honky and he calls me a brother man?
  • Why is it that so many black people get shot?
  • Why is it that so often it is the police who shoot them?
  • Why don't many of my black friends have daddies at home?
  • Why is it that Mr. Burton likes to listen to Billy Graham?
  • Why did they kill that preacher, Dr. King?
  • Why is it that some folks don't like​ that King and Graham were friends?
  • Why are some people racist?
  • Why don'​t​ they believe ​we are all equal?
  • Why can't we all just get along?
  • Why can't we help each other?
  • Why don't some people understand that God loves us all?
  • Why don't they know that hatred makes God sad?

Why, Mama, why?

Greg Loewer serves as NorthStar's Consultant for Language Ministries. He provides consultations for NorthStar pastors and lay leaders regarding non-English churches and mission congregations. A Louisiana native with 30 years of pastoral ministry in Texas and Virginia, Greg began serving with NorthStar in 2005. Employed full time as Pastor for Missions at Columbia Baptist Church, Greg and his wife, Janet, have five grown children and one grandchild.

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