Part 2 of 4
But the Lord had other plans. On the way to the conference as I crossed over Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin, I heard the Lord clearly say, “I brought you here to be a bridge-builder”. And that’s when it all came together. All the memories of high school and college, all the conversations, all came back. I saw how God has been preparing every detail of my life for this moment. He has equipped me to live in this city. This is His plan for me. That realization was followed by an unnerving peace that certainly surpassed all understanding. As I kept driving to the conference, I was excited, but not excited at the same time. I figured it would be the same ol’ conference. But I like to meet people so I figured I would make the best of it.
When I walked in, I looked for faces like mine. I do this a lot since moving to Austin. I try to find that face in the room, and when I do, we lock eyes and give the “The Negro Nod”. It’s the nod we use to communicate to each other, “I see you, and I’m with you.” We use it freely in places like the grocery store or when walking in my community. It’s either that or we just ignore each other. I prefer the nod. This may seem strange to some, but I guarantee every minority reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.
So I scanned the room, preparing for the “Negro Nod.” But the first thing I noticed was the conference had diversity in mind. I could sense the intentionality. The room didn’t necessarily reflect it, but the stage did. So I sat down a little more expectant than when I arrived. And as it turns out, this was NOT the same ol’ conference. This conference was unlike any other conference I have ever attended. I’ve never been a fan of women’s events, but this was about JESUS! But as good as it was, I still looked around the room and wondered where all the browns girls were? Where were my Latino and Asian sisters? It made me wonder why the Christian community was so racially divided. Wanting to make the best of the time I introduced myself to every mocha lady in the room to gain more perspective. In fact, I talked to a lot people that day, of every color. And what I noticed is many talk about racial diversity, but most are not willing to do the hard work of reconciliation.
But I hold the Church to a higher standard.
Especially as I learn more about God’s idea of diversity and study the Theology of Diversity. I believe the Lord has placed this burden in my heart. I hear many pastors and leaders speak about racial diversity, but when I see pictures of their staff, I know they are not serious. You must be intentional. We must move beyond the token representative who is on stage, but has not been invited around the table to speak into decisions or provide input.
When we are looking to diversify, it begins around the leadership table.
What message does the church send to the world when we remain divided? During slavery and the civil rights movements, many denominations were divided over race. This division inflicted many wounds in the body of Christ and sadly, continues to do so. How can we love God and hate our brother? Even Billy Graham was once ridiculed for hiring Rev. Howard Jones, an African-American who was Graham’s associate evangelist and who encouraged Graham to take the Gospel to ALL people. In a great show of racial unity, Graham hired him anyway. Our choices matter. People are watching. And for the record, this same truth applies to predominately black churches also. We must examine our hearts.
I’m embracing Bridge Building, someone who can bring together people from different races in life experiences and help them find common ground. “I believe the Church, and the Christian community, is God’s strategic vehicle for embodying, proclaiming, producing and promoting God’s reconciliation of all things, including racial reconciliation”. Trillia J. Newbell
What will you do today to embrace Racial Diversity in your personal life?