I’ll never forget it. August 23, 2016 was the date. My wife, developing a knack for fitness, went for a walk that evening as she has been doing for several weeks. I took the kids outside to play in the back yard of the church owned parsonage that we now live in. Cloaked in fitnesses gear, she headed out the door. The path she normally walks and I normally run is a straight up and down path. It is about 1.6 miles to be exact.
I sat reading the Narrative of Frederick Douglas on the back porch. It was irony. I’m reading about the mistreatment of slaves thinking in some sense we are far removed from such discrimination and racism. Some time lapsed. My wife came walking into the house, visibly shaken. She looked at me and said, “I’ve been trying to call you.” I did not feel my phone vibrating in the basketball shorts I was wearing. When I took it out of my pocket, I saw that I had 17 missed calls. 17 missed calls from the most important number in my phone. I asked her, “What happened?” She told me that she had been followed by a black car carrying three white men who literally slowed rolled on her. Again, the year is 2016.
Telling me through tears, she said, they drove by one time and started yelling out the window at her calling her a “bitch” and a “nigger.” They went to the end of the street and turned around, came back and did the same thing again. They drove slowly beside her as she walked calling her the same thing. They sped up. She took a side street off the normal path we take, but thinks this isn’t the safest thing to do (her words). She gets back on the normal path. She’s trying to call me. I didn’t feel my phone. They came back. She notice a Papa John’s delivery car who sees what is transpiring, but goes around the commotion.
She makes it home and recounts this story to me. I can’t lie. You ever seen that picture of Malcom X looking out the window with an AK? Yeah, that was me only by God’s grace I didn’t have an AK. I felt like all I could do was look out the window. I paced the front of my yard looking for that black car. I stood on the porch looking for that black car until finally my wife called me in the house. I haven’t seen that car to this day nor has my wife. She could not go outside to exercise for weeks. The color of her skin was the problem. Racism is alive and sick. I don’t believe any racists are Christians, not because of incidents like this, but because Scripture teaches us that you cannot love God and hate those who are created in His image (1 John 4:20).
Why would I tell you about this? Why not? This is a Gospel issue, not merely a political hot button topic. The church has fought for inerrancy, the trinity, got into it over evangelicals and catholics coming together, homosexuality, charismatic gifts, but when it comes to racism…crickets. Some people are comfortable acting like this kind of behavior does not exist. MLK said it best. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
We do not live in a post racist society. Our society is as racist as ever. The experience my wife underwent is proof, but not the only proof I can recall. I was followed in this same neighborhood much like Trayvon Martin by a white guy one early morning as I went out to jog. I came to the conclusion that day that it was safer for me to run in broad daylight than in the wee hours of the morning. Then came my wife’s encounter which debunked my theories. I can recount several, several episodes of racial insensitivity and outright racism, personally, but time will not permit.
Christians, all Christians are called to action against the sin of racism. Preachers must preach it down, Christians must condemn it directly, whole heartedly, vehemently, and swiftly.
I was calmed and comforted by God regarding the incident concerning my wife. I learned a valuble lesson. God watched over my wife. He kept her when I could not. I was helpless and He was my Rock, my Ebenezer. It was only by His grace that she was not kidnapped or worse. History has shown that some do not make it out alive in situations like that. I thank God for keeping her, for bringing her home to me and our kids. In the same vein, I vow to confront this sin with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks to it regardless of the silence of some in the Christian church. I pray you join in refusing to sit by idly.