not alone

Both of you who regularly read my blog know that the church I attend is actively engaged in working towards a Gospel-centered vision of racial reconciliation and unity. This has been a long, challenging, but deeply rewarding process for us. We are far from having it “right,” but slowly we are seeing good things happen.

One of the difficulties in this journey comes when we look around and see so few like-minded travelers. So it can be refreshing to come across a story that reminds me that we are not alone.

It was the Fall of ‘93, deep in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I was a high school student in Junction City, Arkansas. An evangelist had come to our church and encouraged us to invite as many students as possible to come hear the gospel. Although I suspected that it might cause trouble, I invited the entire football team. We arrived at the church only to be met by a couple of deacons banning the African American students from entering the sanctuary. Soon the pastor came to our aid and insisted that my friends were indeed (ahem) “welcome.” In response, one deacon ran to his truck but yelled that he was coming right back—with a shotgun.

This is the first paragraph of a longer reflection entitled “Grace Over Race.” The blog belongs to Eternity Bible College, but the story belongs to Joey Dodson (an Arkansan, no less).

all of God’s children?

In the South, the conversation around race is almost exclusively framed in terms of Blacks and Whites. Given the history here, it is understandable why that might be the case. In no way would I ever want to minimize the discrimination that African-Americans have endured (and continue to endure) here in the Deep South. Little Rock in particular has an ugly history of which most of the country is probably aware.

Yet there is another ugly episode in United States (and Arkansas) history that often gets overlooked in conversations centered on racism. From 1942 to 1946, Japanese Relocation Centers (Internment Camps) were used to “house” over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, most of whom were American citizens. These internment camps were located in various states west of the Mississippi.

Two such Relocation Centers, Jerome and Rohwer, were located in southeast Arkansas.

The war-time status is sometimes cited as justification for the necessity of the internment. However, as always seems to be the case with racism, the underlying issues of power and money were just below the surface. An investigation as recent as 2011, uncovered suppressed evidence that would have helped repudiate the idea that Japanese-Americans were a threat to national security. Something most everyone already knew to be untrue.

It wasn’t until 1988, during the Reagan administration, that a formal apology was issued by the United States government.

I’m sort of a novice when it comes to understanding the reasons why Asian-American discrimination isn’t as widely recognized in our country. My guess is it has something to do with the perceived “success” of Asian-Americans living here. More likely it has something to do with Asians being viewed as a lesser threat to the majority way of life. If and when the majority group does feel threatened, then predictable racist responses can be expected.

Regardless of how well-intentioned our efforts are, as long as the conversation about racial inequality centers exclusively on the white-black divide, then other races are marginalized. It is sad to think that even in our attempts to address racial inequality, we can unknowingly perpetuate it.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.


My church has become increasing committed to the gospel vision of a racially unified family of believers. Every now and then something will happen in my ministry or life (there is quite a bit of overlap between those two things, but they aren’t entirely one and the same) that reminds me how far we still have to go. Today has been such a day.

Providentially, I saw this video trailer for a book (or maybe it is a trailer for a longer video) that John Piper has written on race, the Cross, and the Christian. It is called Bloodlines and I can’t wait to read it. Not everyone loves Piper, and there are times when he misses it. But there are times when he is gloriously right. I expect this book to fall in the latter category.

(HT: JT)