DHD: Six examples of racial reconciliation
I have a heavy heart right now. For more than two years, our country has experienced difficult days surrounding multiple conflicts, most lethal, involving police officers and members of the African-American community.
I hurt for everybody affected. I mean everybody. I hurt so much I don’t want to be specific on how to describe people because I might be misinterpreted. More than I want to be “right,” I want there to be resolution and reconciliation.
If you’ve read me previously or have been around me, you know those two “R” words are two of my favorite words. Resolution: the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. Reconciliation: the restoration of friendly relations.
For this week’s Doyle’s Half Dozen, I present six accounts that exemplify both resolution and reconciliation.
- Brian’s Song
There is a list of movies that demonstrate racial reconciliation. I’m going to mention two. Brian’s Song is one of the first movies I remember seeing that emphasized overcoming racial barriers by depicting the relationship of Chicago Bears running backs Gale Sayers, played by Billy Dee Williams, and Brian Piccolo, played by James Caan.
The 1971 movie is heart stirring, as both Sayers and Piccolo experience major heath situations. When Sayers suffered a major leg injury, Piccolo was there to support him. When Piccolo struggles with cancer, Sayers returned the favor. One of the most powerful scenes has Sayers giving a speech after receiving an award, and he dedicates his award to Piccolo saying, “I love Brian Piccolo. And I’d like all of you to love him too. And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.”
I’ve mentioned Woodlawn a lot. I know Remember the Titans also is a great movie that demonstrates racial reconciliation, and it’s more critically acclaimed than Woodlawn. But my stronger support for Woodlawn is due to the source of reconciliation. Woodlawn boldly presents the Gospel, and through a high school football team in Birmingham, Ala. at the height of violent demonstrations of severe racial animosity, lives are transformed.
I wish this movie could be re-released.
- Church adopts high school football team
This week’s Baptist Messenger features a story I wrote on Cherokee Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City adopting the Putnam City High School football team. This is an exciting opportunity for CHBC. I’m thrilled for Pastor Mike Keahbone and his congregation.
Keahbone said he was praying for God to open the door for CHBC to be able to have a community presence. The door opened through a conversation Keahbone had with PC assistant coach Kyle Hale. They talked about the 60 players who do not have a family presence at the home games. That’s a lot of players who don’t have support from their own homes.
CHBC created a Putnam City fan club, as church members “adopted” these 60 players, committing to come to the home games and giving each player individual support during and after the games. I pray God will bless this unique act of kindness and community connection. CHBC is willing to cross racial barriers, as many church members have no prior connections to most, if not all, of these players they have adopted. I’m curious how much eternal impact there will be from this adopted football family.
- Fort Gibson, First and Bacone College
I mentioned two weeks ago a story I wrote about First Baptist Church of Fort Gibson and its ministry at Bacone College, a small college in Muskogee. Just today I received an email thanking me for writing this story.
The one particular experience from the story I want to highlight involves L.C. Brown, a defensive lineman who came to play football at Bacone, after disappointing experiences at two other schools. In 2012, Brown showed up on campus during the summer after a long bus ride from southside Chicago, where he grew up. The campus was closed, and Brown had no money, except for $10 another football player gave him, which Brown used to buy bread and peanut butter. That’s all he had for food.
After a few days, Brown met Steve and Sharon Dixon who serve at Fort Gibson, First and started the church’s ministry with Bacone College. The Dixons stopped by the campus with a box of hamburgers and side dishes that were left over from a cookout at the church. They gave the whole box of food to Brown, who did not know what to think.
Here’s an older white couple meeting the exact need that Brown had. Talk about a foreign concept, Brown grew up with a bad impression of white people. From this generous act by the Dixons, Brown decided to attend Fort Gibson, First, which led to him making a profession of faith a few months later. Today, L.C. Brown serves as an associate director for Baptist Collegiate Ministries in the Muskogee area.
- Tulsa Together
At the time I have written this, reports are given that Tulsa has responded in a rather peaceful manner to the recent tragedy that happened in its city. What has helped keep Tulsa from riotous threats appears to be the local churches, as some held vigils and prayer services this week. Personally, I believe what influenced this peace and respectful response is a strong network and alliance that was formed by a majority of Tulsa churches 23 years ago.
Once a year, this group of churches observe what’s called Tulsa Together, with the priority of promoting racial reconciliation during Sunday services across the Tulsa metro area. This year’s observance will happen on Oct. 2. In the morning on this special Sunday, participating churches observe a pulpit exchange, as pastors of congregations with different racial demographics swap worship services and preach in the exchanging churches. In the evening, all churches come together in one of the larger area churches to worship in a unifying manner.
I’m expecting this year’s observance of Tulsa Together to have its greatest impact yet.
- SBC championing racial reconciliation
The last two Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings have made it a point to promote racial reconciliation. The past June in St. Louis, Jerry Young, president of the African-American National Baptist Convention, USA, was invited to speak at the SBC meeting. I will never forget hearing Young address SBC messengers saying the wall of racism is “already down” amongst Southern Baptist. He also encouraged SBC churches to dispel racism by sharing the Gospel to all races.
I pray this week’s DHD encouraged you, as you read about these powerful examples of racial reconciliation. And know that nothing is more powerful to vanquish racism than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.