God's Love Strengthens Against Prejudice
the early days of America , there have been many
gifted people, of all races, who are a part of
the greatness of our country. During Black History
Month in February, the media focused on the many
contributions made by African-American leaders.
But why was this not always an important part
of American History classes?
For years something has been going wrong in
human relationships. Many people have not allowed
the perfect love of God to freely flow through
them. So those in a minority, as well as those
in a majority, have been held in a box called
It has been stated that prejudiced people have
a biased opinion. What is the root cause? It may
be a result of family background. Or it could
originate within the wounded soul of the one who
is prejudiced. There may be deep hurts within
that soul that need to be healed. A person's low
self-esteem also contributes to the way in which
others are treated. The evil of it is that in
order to feel good about oneself, he or she must
This human problem is not only with two races,
but with many people who look different. When
my family was preparing to go to Korea as missionaries,
one of my cousins said, "Well, I'm glad
I'm not going. I don't like your squinty-eyed
friends." I felt very sad about her prejudice.
When we arrived in Korea we discovered that many
of those new friends were so wonderful that they
would bless our lives forever.
When I dust our bookshelf full of family pictures,
I always pause to look at two special people.
During this Black History Month, no one will
see them published on the pages of newspapers,
nor do they have books written about them.
But, they are a vital part of my growth and
that of my husband. In childhood, God placed a
ton of love in our hearts for these two people.
John McCadden was a janitor at the church where
Woody's father was pastor. They had many years
of a close relationship.
The other picture is of Lurline Argo, who was
a maid in our home. She was like a second mother
to me. I was nurtured with her loving heart and
I felt secure in her presence.
So it was natural that we teach this kind of
love to our children, as we raised our family.
We had friends of all races and nationalities.
However, there came a day when we discovered
we were to have an African-American son- in-law.
Then we began to think of problems that may arise.
An inter-racial marriage might bring some unforeseen
suffering to our family. If grandchildren were
born they would be bi-racial and that could also
cause more difficulty.
Soon after their first baby was born, I went
shopping at our neighborhood grocery. My grandson
was snuggled in his baby carrier. When a clerk
in the store saw us she said, "Oh I didn't
know you baby-sat." I smiled as I touched
the babies' soft brown cheek. Calmly looking into
her face, I replied, "No, this is Cory,
my grandson." Her shocked expression
only filled my heart with thanksgiving.
When we sing the hymn, "Amazing Grace",
it is more amazing when we know the prejudice
and suffering behind it. The 18th century composer,
John Newton, spent years in a degrading life as
he hunted down and transported slaves from Africa
to the American colonies. He did not care about
the moans of the slaves in the lower portion of
the ship, until his life was changed.
Once he surrendered to the power and love of
Jesus, he was never the same again. He says that
it was the amazing grace of God that gave him
that new life. He quit the slave business and
became one of the greatest preachers in England
for the remaining 40 years of his life.
Today's leaders in racial reconciliation are
an inspiration. One of them, John M. Perkins,
has a ministry in Jackson, Miss. The forward in
his books, Let Justice Roll Down, is written by
former Senator Mark Hatfield. He describes Perkins
as, "Nearly a martyr, surely a saint."
However in the 60's there was a day when Perkins
lay in a hospital bed after several beatings by
white men. The brutality of the blows caused severe
cramping and he needed surgery. He explained his
state of mind as "the pain in my heart
was just as real, just as raw, as the pain in
But he was a Christian. So he began to try to
focus on the cruelty experienced by Jesus. There
was no justification, no reason, except that some
people felt superior and wanted to have power
over this "lowly trouble maker".
And yet, from that cross of crucifixion Jesus
spoke, "Father, forgive them for they
know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
John Perkins began to change. He writes: "Because
of Christ, God Himself met me that day and healed
my heart and mind with His love."
Today, in Jackson, Miss. the John M. Perkins
Foundation For Reconciliation & Development
is spreading the love of Jesus across racial and
cultural differences. See their web site at www.jmpf.org.
The staff oversees several ministries for all
ages: children, youth, single mothers and seniors.
Radiating from their chapel is the assurance that
forgiveness, mercy, and God's healing power lead
to abundant life.
* Lucy Adams is a former Cookevillian and former
religion page columnist for the Herald-Citizen.
* Reprinted with permission from the Mountaineer
in Waynesville, N.C.
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