In August of 2013, as a part of the initial Leading in These Times with Pastor Francis Anfuso, I was asked to join Pastor Joy Johnson and Pastor Scott Hagan on the racial reconciliation issue. My specific role was intercession. It sounded huge, but I actually had no idea of the width, height, breadth and depths – nor the volatility – that would be revealed in the days to come. Born and raised in Michigan, I considered myself one of the “good guys from the North” and didn’t think that I had any racial prejudice. After all, I had grown up in bi-racial schools and lived just a few blocks from the “black part of town”. Nevertheless, I asked the Lord to search my heart and see if there be any wicked way in me (Psalm 139:23-24).
God started with simple revelations of the phraseology that I grew up with – men were either “men” or “black men”. Hum. Then came the reminders of times I had been misunderstood and even “put in my place” by my African-American schoolmates. These unaddressed, seemingly “insignificant” wounds, had left me enjoying every people group . . . except African-Americans.
My wounding and aversion to this people group made me suspicious that I actually had a call on my life to the African-American community. My suspicion turned to conviction when a family member spilled the family secret: my Grandfather had been the highest level freemason, both my Grandmothers had been Eastern Star, my Aunt was Eastern Star, and my Mother had been a Rainbow Girl. I knew enough to know this wasn’t good and God’s providence was that I was already scheduled to meet with an international figure specializing in freemasonry issues. I learned that freemasons are in the brotherhood with the KKK. Suddenly my heart realized and owned my inherited part in the ugliness that my African-American brothers and sisters are experiencing as a result of their horrific history of severe trauma and abuse and the ongoing ramifications they experience to this day.
Following my own healing, my heart was finally available to petition the Lord on how I can be part of the healing process that brings closure to the wounds and restores honor and identity to African-Americans. A friend of mine invited me to a Del Paso Heights MLK celebration. I arrived early and was immediately acutely aware of my whiteness. As I became aware of my self-focus, and the resulting awkwardness, I began asking God how He saw each person. The atmosphere seemed to change instantaneously as I saw precious individuals through His eyes and heart!
As the months passed, my heart seemed to increase in its desire to be used by God in this area – so much that it ached. Soon, I found myself pleading that He would use me!
Father is so good and gentle. At the appointed time, when my heart was fully ready, He began showing me how darkness was abounding in Del Paso Heights. This is a community suffering oppression – both economically and socially – and a high level of addiction, violence, abuse, homelessness and hopelessness. God also showed me how many who carry the light, avoid the darkness and joining our light with Christian brothers and sisters who often stand alone in that area. Personally, I had only been to Del Paso Heights a few times in the 30+ years that I had lived in Sacramento County. I repented of enabling darkness to abound, and asked for opportunity to let my light shine in Del Paso Heights.
God always has the greatest of plans, extraordinary in every way! True to His character, He began to instruct me step by step on how I would go weekly to Del Paso Heights and begin blessing the community through specific actions, like buying breakfast, picking up trash, taking time to hear people’s stories and learn/remember their names, praying, praying, and praying. My heart seemed to enlarge. As I watched the young men playing basketball and interceded for their present and future, I felt my heart fill with His tender love for them so profoundly that I am still brought to tears at the mere memory of it.
I don’t know what God has planned, the extent of the relationships He is giving me with these wonderful individuals, the fullness of the victories He is providing, or the future victories He has in store. I do know that the same power He has at work in me changing my heart is at work in and through me in Del Paso Heights, and I am willing to do whatever He says to bless, heal, and restore my hurting brothers and sisters, in Jesus’ name. Amen.