Glory To God In The Highest . . . Rebuilding The Bridge With Susan And Lilka

 

rebuild-this-bridgeFor the past several years I have worked toward writing my memoirs. I have shared many of them here. Today I would like to share another such memory. When I am done I will invite you to a much-needed conversation.

I was writing of the summer in 1958. My family arrived from Baton Rouge at our annual Church of God Camp Meeting in Anderson, Indiana. My two brothers and me were playing in an open field across the street from all the church activities. Mom sat on a bench and read while we played. A short time had passed when we noticed a black boy and his little sister were watching. They eased a little closer. We needed a fourth player so one of us asked if he would like to play. The boy, we’ll call him Ben, hopped up off the ground and joined in. We had a great time. His sister sat by herself until Mom invited her to sit with her on the bench.

A short time later we began to notice a black woman hiding and watching from between some cars. When Ben noticed her, he stopped playing and ran to her. Yes, it was his mother. He took her hand, walked her to my Mom and introduced her. The two mothers talked, while we continued to play. Ben’s mother was uncomfortable sitting on the bench with a white woman so she and Mom stood to talk.

Having a lot of fun, time flew, and lunchtime arrived. My parents were forever packing a picnic lunch, usually fried chicken and pimento cheese sandwiches (I miss those). Mom invited Ben’s entire family to stay and eat lunch with us. His mother was reluctant at first but, after my mom assured her we had plenty, she gave in and joined us. We enjoyed our picnic but could only wonder why Ben’s mother was constantly looking around while we ate. She seemed nervous and to be watching for someone.

After lunch, Ben and his family left and we never saw them again. We looked for them so we could play during the week, but never found them. We assumed they went home. Whenever I go to Anderson University, my Alma mater, I think of this moment.

I tell you this story because, at the age of eight, I believe this was my first encounter with how different we are. I did not understand what black families went through back in the 1950’s. The racial divide kept me away from black Children. The animosity of whites towards black could even be felt at a camp meeting where our whole purpose was to worship a loving God. I am sure the family left and went home simply because of the overwhelming impression of being unwelcome. I look back at how unusual it was for this playful event to have happened in this era. How uneasy the mother of these two children must have felt. How easy it was for my mom to invite them, because her white world was protected, is compared with the protection Ben’s mother wanted to give, and yet gave in to an invitation. She knew it was the right thing to do as a Christian. But the responsibility of protecting herself and her children was foremost in her mind. No wonder she was looking around. Society had taught her to fear the repercussions of white people. She worried about the wrong person seeing them playing, talking and even eating with a white family. Worried about danger stirring among those who may have despised her simply because of who she was, who her children were. When I see this anger and frustration vented today, I remember this meeting so long ago. I see a young Ben playing with us. I see his mother watching and yet alert in protecting and still allowing things to happen between us.

When I consider this occasion I am struck by what I see today. No wonder Black people are angry. No wonder there is a growing hatred. No wonder we see a widening of divisiveness that is hurting our society. No wonder satan is excited. Two people with different pigmentation cannot get along because the hatred they have been taught separates them. You and I are different from the rest of the world. We have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We can sit and talk, and respect each other, because of the One we love and follow provides the grace for us to do so. But, we have to want to. The world around us doesn’t know Him. Their lives cannot change because there is no one who will help them recognize that this hostility between our races will destroy us. Satan has destroyed the bridge of unity and separated us from each other. We need to rebuild it.

As believers in the One True God we cannot sit idly by and do nothing. I did not understand what black families went through in 1958. I can’t pretend that I know In 2017. I realize that most children are colorblind. But I ask you, where and when did this stop? How can we get back to being colorblind of race and live for the purpose of unity in Christ body and the sharing of His message of salvation? Isn’t that why we celebrate his birth this time of year? We look at this memoir and say, “Well, this was an encounter of children. They don’t understand.” I ask, understand what? That we can’t get along the way children seem to? You are right, children have not developed a racially charged worldview at this point, and therefore are willing to play together because they have the same purpose.

Why would Jesus tell his disciples who were trying to push children away from him, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God?” (Luke 18:16) Jesus saw division coming. “He took the irresistible opportunity of lowering their (the disciples) pride of reason by informing them that, in order to enter the Kingdom, . . . instead of the children first becoming like them, they must themselves become like the children” [Richter in Stier]. This does not mean we are to be childish. This simply means we need to consider our pride and our humility in accepting others for who they are. Christ said, Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Do you not realize we are God’s gift too each other? “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 12:24-25)

I wonder if our world today can heal? Are we capable, as children, of sharing the same purpose? In Christ, I believe it can happen. Like this young Black family of the 1950’s they were willing to join my family for an unforgettable day. I have often wondered if the impression left on me, after all these years, lingers with Ben, now a grown man. We both learned that we are capable of living together in unity, sharing a glorious life in Christ.

Invitation

I would like to extend an invitation you. So many have talked about starting conversation that will begin healing. Susan Irene Fox, Lilka Raphael and myself have started a new category dedicated to understanding and healing between races. This new category will be called Bridges.

I would like to invite you to the Bridge. Let’s rebuild what satan has destroyed. Ben met me at the bridge in 1958. We met there as children, with open minds and hearts, wanting to share. We reached out to each other and found unity, if only for the day. Can we do that today? Can we become as children and overcome color? We are called by God to love one another. I believe through Bridges we can find this same child-like unity today. God is telling us unity in the Body of Christ will not only make our world better, but our lives.

Lilka met me at the Bridge in 2016. Beginning in January, will you come help us build?

I wish each of you,and your family a wonderful Christmas. Put Christ first and He will continue to bless you.

Andy

Links:

Susan Irene Fox: https://susanirenefox.com/2016/12/02/bridges-stepping-forward-with-lilka-and-andy/

Lilka Raphael: https://bisforblessed.com/2016/12/09/goodwill-to-men-crossing-the-bridge-with-susan-and-andy/

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45 thoughts on “Glory To God In The Highest . . . Rebuilding The Bridge With Susan And Lilka

  1. I’m with you, Andy. Such a heartfelt plea, and so needed. You ask at one point “How can we get back to being colorblind ” I’m not sure this country has ever been colorblind! This will take a new work. Isaiah 43:19 God says “Behold, I will do a new thing”. He has done a new thing in each of our hearts st salvation. Now we need another new thing done, and it starts with stripping us of our pride! It is pride that makes us think we are somehow better, and it is also pride that makes the black, or Latino, or any other, feel their hurt. Humility must reign for any of us to really tackle this topic in our lives.

    I know that I have a lot to learn. That is why u have reamed up with Bridges. I hope many more will do the same.

    • You are so right Pete. We can only do this if we humble ourselves before God and each other. I am excited for the opportunity to do this. I feel the Lord will bless our efforts. I have not considered it being a “new work” but I believe you are right. Proverbs 11:22 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,but with humility comes wisdom.” May we continue to receive each other in love and humility. Thank you Pete!

    • Pete, I agree our country has never been colorblind yet I am confident God can use us to do a “new thing” to some extent. If we touch just one person, our efforts will have been worth it. You make a great point about pride. There is scripture after scripture that instructs us that God hates pride. When we humble ourselves and go willingly as children we really view things as God would have us to. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

  2. Andy, what a good idea. Conversation leads to change. I could scarcely comment from reading Susan’s & Lilika’s posts. Thinking overcrowded my mind. I’m your there is enough elasticity left!

    • I have commented for months about how everyone in the media is always saying we need to have a conversation, yet I never hear of anyone having this conversation. Susan invited me to the Bridge in October when she asked me to comment on some questions Lilka asked. After answering them I began to pray and think about this. So, taking Susan’s nudge to heart, I contacted Lilka and asked if she would meet me on this Bridge. From there the three of us decided to open conversation on our blogs in January. I am excited and I hope you will join us and continue to comment. Thank you Meredith!

  3. What an excellent memory. Your family’s instincts were spot on. I remember the first time I was aware of my son interacting with a black family–wonderful folk at our dojo. My son thought they were darkly tanned. That was it–nothing more or less.

  4. Yet, another Great article. God truly blesses you with words to compose! It is a wonderful ‘channel’ we have to try to ‘reach hearts and change attitudes’ of those who know they want to ;soften’ their Heart and open their eyes. People CAN change. as long as their Hart remains willing to learn. Thus, my signature on my writing is Always :

    GROWING In Christ.

    Jennifer K. Lewis http://www.jenniferkaylewis.com

    Have a Christ-centered Day and make Someone SMILE!

    HOW DID YOU ADD SNOW AFFECT? HOW DO I ADD ANY AFFECT?

    • Thank you Jenifer. I appreciate such a nice comment. I am thankful you are following me. As for the snow. Ya know, I don’t even remember how I got it on there. I’ve had it for several years. I think it only comes on around Christmas time to give you a good effect. The rest of the year I don’t see it, lol. You may look at your “custom” features and see how to do it. Or, maybe google it. Sorry I cannot be of much help there. Good Luck.

  5. Great post! I understand the sentiments. I grew up mostly in the South, but even in Maryland, I remember still remember how the Blacks separated themselves in the lunch hall.

    When the news media speaks of a conversation on race, what is their point? They emphasize our differences and our grievances. What good does that do? That is not the conversation we should have. As Christians, we have a command from our Lord to spread His Gospel. So our concern should be how we work together as one to spread His Gospel.

    Because we are His children, we all have the same Father. Because we are all sinners, we all need the same Savior. When we believe, we are filled with the same Holy Spirit. Because of Christ, we can be of one mind and one heart. We can share fellowship in Him.

    • You are so right Tom. I think society is emphatic about separation in so many ways, even in the lunch room. I don’t think the media is ever serious about having this conversation. So what a great time for us, as Christian’s, to start it ourselves. We are the light in the world and there is no red, yellow, black or white lights. We are the light of Christ and in this conversation I want others to see that Light and want to be drawn to it. I look forward to your input in our conversation. Merry Christmas to you and your family Tom. Don’t know what part of MD you live in but my middle son lives in Bowie. He married a sweet girl from Stafford, VA. He teaches at Montgomery High School in Silver Springs.

      • I was a military brat then. My father was stationed at Andrews AFB. Live in Virginia now, but that’s not far away.

        I went to schools in various places around the country. When my family was at Andrews AFB, we caught up in a judge’s solution for integration, busing. What a stupid idea that was!

        Part of what the locals did to solve their problem was bus the military kids to integrate schools. So I spent a couple hours a day on the bus.

        If we don’t want involuntary segregation — which is really the problem — then we should not permit the government to operate or control anything we don’t need it to operate or control. Seriously, why do we need government-operated schools. That’s just makes drawing up school boundaries a political decision.

        If private schools don’t have students, they don’t have any money. Therefore, if they turn away paying customers, they punish themselves. Government, on the other hand, because it has the power to do so, can discriminate without any apparent cost to itself. If on those rare occasions when judges call elected officials on their shenanigans, they come up with more shenanigans. Hence, judges had little to with ending segregation. When ended segregation is people stopped voting for it.

  6. I am late at night so will tell you, Andy, I stand by you and your friends. I am blessed to have read this and will need to come back and see how I may participate in the Bridges program.
    Meanwhile, busy at work leading up to Christmas. . . Wishing you a blessed and happy Christmas season. Rejoice in His birth and may He work in all of our hearts, Andy. ❤

    • You know, I thought I was already following your blog. I just found out I wasn’t and I apologize. I am now though, lol. Thank you for all the like and the comment. I look forward to your input on the Bridge. Have a Merry Christmas!

  7. Pingback: WILL WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? HOW? – Citizen Tom

  8. Such a well worded narrative. It drew me right in.
    When I took my social work studies about 7 years ago there was a term that I never heard of before, and it was called “white privilege”. This is something as a society we have to erase, in that we are all equal. Each of us are God’s creation.
    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for introducing The Bridge!

    • Hey Carl! Thank you for such a wonderful compliment. It is amazing the differences in cultures of our individual worlds. I chuckled when you said you had never heard of “white privilege”. It is a phrase, and a reality I might add, that is prevalent in my world and especially in the southern states here in the US. This is one of the reasons for racial animosity in the US. I think it is in other countries too, especially the UK. However, those of us who recognize how destructive it is are ready to change it. We know we cannot change the hearts of those who do not know Christ, but those of us who are Christian and rely on guidance from our Father, do want to change this within our communities and especially our families. I thank you again for your comment on this post and hope you will join us on the Bridge. Susan will be writing the next post on Friday the 6th. I will be re-blogging it here. Would love your input on the subject. Feel free!

  9. Andy,

    As a black woman, I believe we can heal. I love your heart for this issue. I came of age in the 80s and have never seen a more racially divided American in my lifetime. I am raising 3 black sons and 2 daughters. I fear for my children. My prayer is that we can “bridge ” the gap and learn to share our differences and learn from them. I am not sure how well you know Denise DeBois Pass, but she and I have been friends for almost 20 years.(You liked my comment on her blog Seeing Deep.) She is color-blind and a great friend. I have a post on my site called “An Open Letter to my Black Sons.” There, I share my perspective. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Good Morning Sheila! Thank you for stopping by and leaving this wonderful comment. I don’t know Denise very well, other than here on WP. I do enjoy her blog and the insight she shares. I am sure the friendship you share is invaluable.
      I tried to find your article, “An Open Letter to my Black Sons,” but could not. If you could send me the link I would love to read it.
      I was raised in Louisiana by a Dad who loved the Lord and loved people. While my cousins were making fun of Black people and using derogatory language he would have slapped me to the ground if I even thought of using that language. He taught me that all are children of God regardless of Color. I believe as parents, and even now as a grandparent, it is our job to instill love and not hate in our children. They are the ones who will carry forth either hate or love in the future. They are the ones who will help to quell the hatred we see now between us. They are the one who will share God’s word after I am gone. So now is our opportunity to teach and change the world we live in.
      I am thankful for your input here and I hope you will join us on the Bridge to share with each other in future post. Leave your words and comments and questions for all of us to think about. I look forward to your blog. I appreciate you!

    • There are four of us who started Bridges. We will take turns posting and re blogging each other’s post. The newest one is my newest post from yesterday. We hope to discuss many issues that separate us and how to heal our division. Just follow my blog and you will see them on Friday’s. Feel tee to comment, ask questions, etc. I welcome you to the Bridge.

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