This week has been very troubling to my wife, Teresa, and I as we heard the news of nine worshipers of Jesus being killed in cold blood at Emanuel African American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. My wife heard the news first and told me. Then she said, “I remember when we went to that church and were amazed at its history.” Among those killed was the beloved pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was dedicated to reaching ones such as his assassin with the love of Christ. Sadly, a new page has been added to the church’s history and it is a very tragic one. It is my hope churches will pause this Sunday morning and pray for the families grieving and for healing of the wounds caused by this and countless other hate crimes which have occurred in this great nation. It has been said that time has a way of healing many wounds. Perhaps there is some truth to that way of thinking. However, if the massacre at Charleston teaches us anything it is the healing that is needed in regard to the wounds created by the travesty of American Slavery amidst the African Americans cannot be expected to happen just with the passing of time. True, as generations come and go, we are being further removed from the horrors of our past. However, the scars are still visible and the pain continues to linger. Just ask one of the family members who lost their loved one due to a racial hate crime. All Americans are not racist! However, racism still exists in America and we must acknowledge there is much work to be done. I do not write to outline an answer to this dilemma. Nor, do I claim to know the extent of the pain associated with American slavery and its ongoing effects on African Americans. However, I cannot remain silent on an issue that I feel so strongly about. I have many friends who are African American and the thought of one being targeted in such a cowardly act of violence like that which occurred at Emmanuel AME Church because the color of his or her skin is very upsetting. Over the years, I have heard African Americans labeled, referred to as, and called by many different derogatory names. Some of the names might appear to be appropriate and accepted in society as politically correct. However, many names for African Americans have been used in a derogatory fashion or in an outright demonstration of hate. Jesus taught against such hate and discord. Let’s recall His instruction, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” The question arises… “Who is my neighbor?” Is an African American the neighbor of an Anglo? Is the African American the neighbor of the Hispanic? Is the African American the neighbor of the Oriental? The answer is, absolutely! We live in a day that celebrates our differences and yet many are still being affected by racism. One cannot deny that America is a multi-cultural and multi-racial society. My hope and prayer is we will see one man’s dream lived out in every American neighborhood!
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