Human beings are fascinating. I’m especially fascinated by humans who look, think, or act differently than me. Listening to people’s stories and trying to see life from their perspective teaches me so much. When a stranger opens up to me, I learn that though we’re different in our circumstances, culture, or color, we’re basically the same inside our heart and I feel a deep connection–what the Bible calls love.
As a white college student, I sold “Ebony’s Pictorial History of Black America” door-to-door. Often strangers would begin to share with me their personal pain from racial discrimination. As I listened my heart would break for them, that people who were inwardly like me had been made to suffer because of their outward color.
As a man who has never even once been drunk, or high on drugs, I was the counselor and chaplain in a Salvation Army alcohol and drug rehab center. I listened to more than 1,400 men tell their story of how addiction had devasted their life. Though I had walked a different path, their pain was the same as mine and we often prayed together as our hearts embraced.
As a Bible school teacher for a time in India, working with young adults from a culture I knew nothing about, I was inspired by their passion to follow and obey Jesus in a nation where their fellow citizens saw Christianity as a foreign, intrusive, and unwelcome religion. Shortly after I left, one of my students was murdered for his faith. My heart deeply connected with those beautiful Christ-followers who were willing to be looked-down on for their beliefs yet continued to show kindness and compassion to all.
As an older adult who knows nothing about cars, I’ve been part of a team leading a ministry to a diverse group of young adults fresh out of high school who are learning to be mechanics and are passionate about cars. Beyond the automotive talk and across the generations, I see their heart and we feel a deep heart-connection between us.
Invited by The Salvation Army to start a “non-traditional church” in one of their church buildings in a poor neighborhood in the process of gentrifying, my wife and I started a sermon-free Sunday service where anyone present could share what God put on their heart. An amazingly diverse group of people began to gather and be led by God’s Spirit. As we weekly saw into each other’s heart, our diversity was covered by the beauty of Spirit-led heart-connection and salted with supernatural compassion, peace, and joy.
If you would like to know more about some of these experiences, search for: Off the RACE Track–From Color-Blind to Color-Kind. Thank you.