During a sermon a few weeks back, I made a statement that I was once a racist. I didn’t plan to say that. It was a move of the Spirit and I pray that it made a difference in the heart of someone in that place that struggles with that. But since it was not in my prep to bring it up, I left it open. So let me explain now what I was talking about…
I grew up in an all white town. Racist remarks were a part of everyday conversation. I also had not given my life over to Christ, so falling into this racist verbiage was too easy. But my racism was selective-my best friend was a Filipino named Ray. I think mostly it came from not only the culture I lived in but also from a place of fear of not knowing anyone who was black.
Whats more important to me is how God brought me out of that. I felt led by God to take a job in Birmingham AL as a young man and it was here that I fell in love with the One who loves me unconditionally. Shortly after this I met some friends who invited me to church. And that is when not only did my walk with Love begin, but also when I met someone who refused to let me hide in my past.
Kenya was the first African American that I considered a close friend. She helped out with the youth group with me. She was super nice, fun, beautiful, and full of love. This was not the black woman I had grown to fear as a kid. And her personality was infectious. Even if I had tried, I would not have been able to escape a relationship with Kenya. I quickly grew to respect her for the mom, leader, woman, and Christian she was. And one day I came to the realization that not only was Kenya a dear friend to me, but that I saw her with the same eyes I saw my white friends, loved her with the same heart as I loved my Filipino friend, and enjoyed being around her. God has healed my heart of so much garbage I brought into it from my past, but there is no healing I celebrate more joyously than when He allowed a African American single mom with a heart full of love to blow up my preconceived fears and set me free from my prejudiced heart.
I have several friends whom I love dearly from backgrounds much different than mine. I am a better person for knowing them, learning of their struggles, and appreciating their view on events around us. But the greatest thing to come out of this “conversion” is when I hear my little girls talk about their friends without the slightest conception of their race making a difference. They see their friends just as they are, just as God helped me to see Kenya. I am happy to know that the legacy I leave my kids has been shaped by Christ through me now rather than having been shaped by the me before I knew Christ. Kenya, you may have never known this, but you helped rescue me from me and have enriched my life tremendously as a result. Thank you.
I can honestly say I see with Christ’s eyes, love with Christ’s love, and seek everyday to be mindful of all those who are outcast, abused, belittled, and misunderstood around me, no matter their race. So, yeah there was a time in my life when I was a racist. But Jesus Christ freed me from that and opened my heart to love all people. I won’t go back.