Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Colorblind Love

God's Love is absolutely Colorblind. I thank God for placing me where He did during the early years of ministry. I learned that all of us face the same problems and issues. Moving to Benton Harbor Michigan was God's way of preparing my heart for our life in Zambia. While we lived in Benton Harbor Hilary's best friend was a wonderful girl named Olivia.

Olivia and Hilary hit it off because of their attitude towards each other. Neither girl cared about the skin color of the other. They became inseparable, spending overnights together and going to camp as best buds. The relationship of those seven year olds confirmed the work that God had been doing in my heart for some time.

After living in Benton Harbor for two short years we headed to Zambia. Donna and I knew that we were going to the right place at the right time. For ten years we waited, at times patiently, usually impatiently, to be appointed to the mission field. We arrived in Zambia and in no time at all fell in love with the joyous and friendly Tonga people.

Innocent children are great teachers. Hilary and Baby Irene taught me one of the most profound lessons in my adult life. Shortly after arriving at our home Donna and Hilary got busy working with the orphan children and those dying of AIDS. Donna asked me if it would be ok for us to take care of Baby Irene over a weekend. Baby Irene was dying of AIDS and Donna wanted to spend some, touching time, with her. I agreed, and Baby Irene entered my life.

Irene was six months old and she weighed about 15 pounds. The first time I looked at her I was actually stunned. She looked old and tired. Her fingers were long and skeletal, her face looked aged and weary. She spent the weekend and on Sunday Hilary decided to do something very special. She had brought her favorite doll with her to Zambia. The doll had a very pretty green dress, trimmed in white lace. Hilary, with Donna's wholehearted blessings, dressed Irene in the baby doll dress.

The weekend passed and Irene went back to the hospital. Tuesday morning I watched Donna walking up the road towards me. Tears were running down her cheeks as she told me that Baby Irene had just died and her struggles were over. When Donna told Hilary there were more tears.

 Donna was asked to say a few words at her funeral. So, prior to the funeral Hilary asked the family if Baby Irene could be buried in the green baby dress. Baby Irene was laid to rest in the red dirt of the Chitumbi Village, wearing a pretty green dress trimmed in white lace. The family members asked Donna why she cared so much for Irene. Donna explained that it was because God cared for her and He wanted us to love each other in the was He loved us.

The impact of that event had a very profound effect upon my heart. Love must be shared when the opportunity is presented by God.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Colorblind Love

Love that is Colorblind is a wonderful gift. Before I go any further I need to make one thing perfectly clear. I grew up in a small town with no black people living within the city limits. The area south of Detroit was pretty segregated. Some people in my town were quite prejudice and stereotypes of non-whites flourished.

I didn't meet a young black person until I was a teenager swimming at one of the major metro parks in the area. The kid and I talked for some time and kept on swimming. Our meeting left no big impression on me, he was just a kid swimming in the pool, just like me.

The riots that swept through Detroit and many other major cities brought racial hatred and animus to the surface. As a kid I paid little attention to the civil rights movement and the federal desegregation programs. I do not remember the impression left upon me by the news reports that showed black students getting off buses at once all white schools. It was far away I didn't really care. Now, it was different. The riots were just a few miles away. Buildings were burning to the ground and people were being killed.

Disparaging remarks and ignorant slang were soon tossed around by our gang of friends. A mass tackle playing football took on disrespectful name. I am convinced this grew out of ignorance and the complete lack of understanding of what all people have in common. I can honestly say, I didn't hate black people, or any other ethnic group for that matter. I was a dumb white kid who didn't really pay much attention.

After my junior year in high school we moved from that small town to Northeast Michigan. Living in the north prejudice took on a different form. Ethnic prejudice among whites was focused on European origins. Jokes about Poles, Swedes, Irish, Hungarians and plain ole Southern Hillbillies flourished.

A transformative and defining moment came when I came to Christ. My life and views of life would undergo some massive changes. Two years of seminary near Wrigley Field helped in changing the way I looked at people. While there I was forced to confront some old stereotypes, like skid-row alcoholics, prostitutes and criminals. Conducting church services in the Cook County Jail will cause the blinders to come off most anyone.

I will continue this piece.