A Note From Chris - February 2, 2023

February marks the beginning of Black History Month in America. As a white Christian growing up in the south, I remember once joking sarcastically (and inappropriately) with a friend early in February, “When is White History Month?” It was not only an uninformed statement, but unrighteous. The work God needed to do in my heart (and continues to do) was to shape my worldview around the appreciation of and recognition of the beauty of ethnic diversity and the memory of both the tragedies and positive strides specific to black history in our country.
For non-black believers, it is important for us to remember that Black History Month is not for “them,” but instead for all of us. We often say at Cornerstone in regards to racial diversity in our church that we long to see Cornerstone look more and more like heaven. In heaven, the image of Revelation describes people from every tribe, language, people, and nation represented (Revelation 5:9). That is not uniformity, but true diversity, celebrating the beauty, history, and uniqueness of both cultures and races. We are better together as we understand each other’s histories, differences, and uniqueness. After all, it was God who “made from one man every nation of mankind.” (Acts 17:26)
For Christians, appreciation for both the stories of pain and achievement in black history grows as we draw closer to Jesus and God’s view of all people. My encouragement for our church is to make the embrace of Black History Month part of your personal spiritual journey this month. Pray first for your own heart in regards to your personal biases, prejudices, and worldview (no matter your skin color). Almost certainly, there is room for Jesus to work. Then pray that our church, with intentional efforts from each of us, will look more like heaven tomorrow than it does today. Then, perhaps spend a few moments this month just growing in your education of how faith shaped the landscape of African Americans in our nation’s history.

The history, specifically about how Jesus was central to abolishing slave trade in the US and shaping the nation’s faith through black pillars of faith in those early years, is fascinating. Here are just a few samplings of some heroes of faith from the black community and the early stages of the United States of America.

Lott Carey (1780-1828)
Born into slavery, Carey learned how to read the Bible and eventually purchased his freedom from enslavement. Lott led the first Baptist missionaries into Africa, eventually settling into ministry in Liberia. Lott is a phenomenal example of trusting God in the midst of impossible situations.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Sojourner Truth defied the odds by escaping slavery and becoming a strong voice in the abolitionist movement. Led by her relationship with Jesus, Truth was best known for her role in women’s rights and her speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” She eventually had a meeting with Abraham Lincoln as she became one of the foremost human rights activists of her time. It is clear that Sojourner drew her strength from Jesus and gives hope to all who serve Christ.

George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
George Washington Carver is an amazing example of what perseverance looks like. Despite both the blatant and institutionalized racism he encountered while pursuing higher education, Carver never gave up and eventually became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. His example of moving forward despite the opposition all around him speaks volumes to staying the course.

*Credit for biographies to GoMinno.com

Yours and His,
Chris VandeLinde

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