Perspectives of Reconciliation from my Black Brother

My Brother Elmo

For the past several months I have had the privilege to serve on the NCMM (National Coalition of Ministries to Men) Board as the only Director this side of the Mississippi River. I have the privilege or rubbing shoulders with some amazing men’s ministries leaders like: Clair Hoover (Executive Director), Brian Doyle Iron Sharpens Iron National Men’s Conferences), Jim Whitmore (FamilyLife), Rod Handley (Character Counts), Chris Van Brocklin (Evangelical Free Church National Men’s Ministries), and Scott Haima (Christian Service Brigade), and Elmo Winters (KINGDOM Group International).
          Elmo lives in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area where he leads the KINGDOM Group International, an organization dedicated to racial healing, unity and reconciliation utilizing the life-changing Gospel of Christ. The KINGDOM Group hosts events to bring diverse groups together for dialogue and relationship building. Elmo also serves on the boards of Gulf South Men of Louisiana, Louisiana Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus, and the Mercy Education Foundation of Liberia, Africa.
          He has the most balanced perspective of the turmoil in our country that I have heard yet and is passionate about sharing his perspective of racial reconciliation. For a “white guy” like myself, it was a breath of fresh air to listen to Elmo’s Biblical perspective of the turmoil happening in our country.

Tactical Edifying

Our interview covered his small but powerful booklet, Overcoming Racial and Cultural Barrier to Disciple Men. In it, Elmo encourages readers to be tactical—strategic—in our conversations with people of color: black to white, white to red, black to yellow, yellow to brown, purple to green, etc.
          Be proactive. Lean into racial reconciliation. Never shrink back from life-giving relationships.
          Hebrews 10:39 always encourages me to lean in, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
          Elmo writes, “We live in what is thought to be one of the most divisive and polarized times ever.”
          Instead of erring on either end of two extremes—shrinking back and ignoring the issues or attacking the opposing side with our militant opinions—we should engage in tactically edifying conversations. Elmo tells stories about his conversations with guys flying Rebel Flags and “White Supremacists” just to hear their perspective. Can you imagine the boldness!?

A Discipleship Problem

Why is he so bold? Because he has the burning conviction that anyone who is biased against another human based on appearance doesn’t have a racism problem—they have a discipleship one. They need to grow in their knowledge of Scripture and Jesus. Using Peter as an example Elmo writes, “(Peter) was a strong bigot before God dealt with him just before he was sent to see Cornelius.”
          Peter ultimately repented saying, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).
          Since “racism” is never mentioned in the Bible, it is the sin of partiality (favoritism) that must be addressed head on, which can mean everything from racism, to prejudice against the poor, politically bipolar views, to the atrocity of abortion (extreme partiality against the unborn!). We cannot address one—biblically—without dealing with them all.
          James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).
          Do you show favoritism to one group, ethnicity, or demographic over another? If so, then you have a spiritual problem. It is called, “Sin.”

Walk Across the Room
We can point a finger, or we can walk across the room, and it doesn’t matter what side of the issues you are on. Christians are reconcilers regardless of gender, color, political views, or demographics. Blacks walk to whites. Whites walk to blacks. It doesn’t matter when all that matters are that all lives matter. Whites have done horrible things to people of color in America. But blacks have done unspeakable atrocities to their own in this country and abroad.
          We have been killing each other without bias since the beginning of time. It is a human depravity problem.
          I love Elmo’s perspective, “All people groups of the world have committed horrible atrocities and made their share of mistakes. This is not a white thing, nor a black thing; this is a human thing…Then, there is the issues of groups like Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers, whom many black people support or sympathize with. The rhetoric and promotions of these groups are divisive and offensive to many Caucasians. It is difficult to embrace a man who sees the merits of any organization that believes one race or people group is more valuable than another. Being a part of these is akin to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. All such alliances as these indicate that there is a problem in the heart.”

We must acknowledge this as a human condition and not a color one. Then walk across the room, park, or sanctuary and build a bridge instead of burning one.
          Edmund Burke once said, “Evil prevails when good men to nothing.” It’s time to do something, anything, just walk across the room.
          The Bible is clear that God the Father loves all His children equally even though He created each differently. Elmo writes, “Every person must be regarded and respected equally. Although God made us differently, He never lovingly deals with us differently. We are taught to not judge a book by its cover, and we should never form an opinion of a person purely based on their appearance.”

Boots on the Ground
Be a wall breaker. Be a bridge builder. I like how Elmo puts it; “Every effort must be made to break down these invisible partitions, when events for diverse men are held…Be the first to extend the hand out for a handshake, always looking another man in the eye.”
          When you see someone different—color, political views, age, demographic, sexual orientation, it doesn’t matter—walk across the room and learn their story.

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