How much time has your church leadership spent on addressing the various historical benefits you have inherited from its previous endeavors?
Does your church revisit its history often? Are there blind spots in your church community history that are too painful to revisit?
If you were to investigate your church’s past, would there be any shameful moments that have since been brushed under the rug?
We seldom acknowledge apostolic creeds, we seldom understand the complexity of power struggles within the early church, the effort that was made to stamp out dangerous heresies, and combat power-hungry heretics. We rarely think of what transpired after the book of Revelation, written by apostle John, and are only reanimated by Christian history when Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, and Graham are mentioned. We enjoy the fruits of our Christian predecessors fought for without giving an ounce of time and effort to acknowledge the evils some of them ignored and the evils some of them promoted.
It is time for the church to openly confront, shun, and confess the evils of Christian history without devaluing the work of these Christian giants who we normally admire. It’s okay to condemn the sins of our predecessors, our forebearers, our forefathers, our leaders who did so much for our Christian faith under the influence of a better spirit but still lived such morally duplicitous lives, whilst endorsing damnable systems that served to destroy the wellbeing and identity of millions of people.
Before my fellow keyboard warriors condemn me of being a deconstructionist and hater of say, history, I must confess to you that I have a dog in this fight. Before I explain why this is so important to me personally and more important to the church, universally, I must state that I value our history, I value the struggles we have faced as a church, I praise God for the men, women, and children who did not recant their faith in Christ when faced with fire, spear, sword, and beasts in the arenas. I am thankful for the courage of so many who gave their lives in hopes of preserving their great faith when questioned by Spanish inquisitors and forced to recant at the threat of death but held their ground and lost their lives doing so. I am doubly grateful for William Tyndale, Joan of Arc, and John Hooper.
I am honored by the sacrifices made by Polycarp, Justin Martyr, from which we derive the understanding of a martyr, a witness. I am in awe of the courage of Ptolemaeus, Lucius, Perpetua, and Felicity. Their lives were not lost without a cause.
I am in debt to the arduous efforts and sacrifices made by the early church apostles and disciples as they spread this great message of hope and salvation into the Roman Empire and beyond it, even, losing their lives in the process. For Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, Apostle James, and also James the earthly brother of Christ. Apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Jude, Bartholomew, Barnabas, and Simon who gave their lives for the faith and did not recoil at the face of execution.
I commend their courage. The thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children who walked this earth with their heads held high and faced the flames of death, voracious lions, gladiators, Roman spears, Spanish Inquisitors, European crusaders, and the devastating animosity of Islamic conquests.
I applaud them. I applaud their faith under such pressure, fear, starvation, despair, and loss. I admire their honorable conduct when facing struggles against physical and spiritual forces. Their unbending and unshakable faith in the afterlife. Their fervor for the Great Commission and their consistent want for better social structures to protect the poor and destitute, being themselves poor and destitute. Many did not wait for nor would they rely on the force and wealth of government and kings to enact goodwill toward all men but went about it on their own, feeding, assisting, healing, hosting, and delivering many from death at the risk of losing their own goods, favor, property, and lives.
Aye, aye, these are our heroes of the faith and we honor their memory and their sacrifice.
And there is almost always a but
But we must also, in the same spirit, openly condemn and without hesitance repudiate the immoral conduct and ineptitude of Christian leaders of the past and those still with us today.
The Dutch Protestant Church and The Nazi Regime
Let us consider the imitable stance of the Dutch Protestant Church who, under the direction and leadership of Rene de Reuver, apologized for and condemned the mistreatment of Jews by the Dutch body of believers during the rise of the Nazi regime. The church assisted in adding despicable layers of anti-semite sentiments to an already inflamed Europe that would later spawn concentration camps within the Netherlands and throughout Europe.
Where the church had the opportunity to criticize the mistreatment of human beings by its government and the neighbor governing body in Germany it instead, because of its racist sentiments, allowed for Germany and Holland to assist in the decimation of the Dutch-Jewish population of Holland. Well over 70 percent of the Jewish community of Holland perished because of the nations overwhelmingly pro-Nazi participation in antisemite violence.
We cannot blame the Dutch church alone for what happened in Europe but the Dutch Protestant Church recognizes its willful participation in one of the vilest and most horrific stages of human history, the promulgation and dissemination of Nazi ideals and subservience to the Nazi regime.
Rene de Reuver states that it was in the Dutch Protestant Church where “the ground in which the seeds of antisemitism and hatred could grow.”
“For centuries a rift was maintained that could later isolate the Jews in society in such a way that they could be taken away and murdered. […] Also, in the war years, the ecclesiastical authorities often lacked the courage to choose a position for the Jewish citizens of our country.” Said De Reuver.
How telling that the church, the one entity that fears no man, no group, no authority or government structure, and has no fear of facing death was the most recreant of all institutions when asked to speak against the evils of the Nazi regime and the mistreatment of Dutch Jews but fell short for want of racial superiority.
“The church recognizes faults and feels a present responsibility. Antisemitism is a sin against God and against people. The Protestant Church is also part of this sinful history.” He added.
De Reuver has stressed the importance of the church in combating this heinous sin that has dilapidated church history and erased generations of Dutch Jews. He states that his church and fellow believers endeavor to combat this sin wherever it is found from now on.
“We undertake to do everything possible to further develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship of two equal partners, united among others in the fight against contemporary antisemitism.”
The Southern Baptist Convention and Slavery
In 1995 the first resolution was made by SBC leaders to condemn the church’s participation in and the promotion of chattel slavery in the American south.
“We apologize to all African Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime, and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously.” Said the SBC leadership on the 150th anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
WHEREAS, Many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery; and
WHEREAS, In later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans; and
WHEREAS, Racism has led to discrimination, oppression, injustice, and violence, both in the Civil War and throughout the history of our nation; and
WHEREAS, Racism has divided the body of Christ and Southern Baptists in particular, and separated us from our African-American brothers and sisters; and
WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans from worship, membership, and leadership; and
WHEREAS, Racism profoundly distorts our understanding of Christian morality, leading some Southern Baptists to believe that racial prejudice and discrimination are compatible with the Gospel; and
WHEREAS, Jesus performed the ministry of reconciliation to restore sinners to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and to establish right relations among all human beings, especially within the family of faith.
Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of race or ethnicity (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and
Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).”
The SBC lists their previous flaws, failures, and shortcomings, without losing their fervent love for Christ and the people who are made in His image. There is no equivocation here, these leaders do not vacillate when called to confront the dark and tenebrous history of their parents, grandparents, and beyond. It takes courage to admit fault, it takes grit and an unimaginable amount of time reflecting on the damage their partnership with evil systems caused and how their negligence cost the lives of thousands in America and millions in the Subsaharan tropics thousands of miles away and hundreds of years ago.
The SBC admits that their previous involvement in disenfranchising black Americans under the protection of ecclesiastical leadership, the discrimination of black Americans by church laity, and the acceptance of segregation within the denomination as a whole was and is an odious stretch of its history that must be openly condemned. Systemic racism ran through the genesis of the SBC and systematic racism was promoted for its survival.
Many critiqued the SBC’s apology as too little too late, and its timing quite poor.
“Today racism is subtle. […] It’s corporate, and it’s very difficult to see it unless you are African American. I see it now in our convention in a lot of ways.” Said Willie T. McPherson, director of the Black Church Extension Division.
He informs the SBC and community that this apology was “just the beginning.” And that, “We already know that God will not operate where there is sin. And racism is sin.”
McPherson is hesitant to accept such a late apology by SBC leaders when for far too long black protestants have been victims of racist extremist violence outside the church and later revictimized by protestant clergy when the church was beckoned to lead the condemnation of such acts but fell silent and in other instances would repeat the vitriol of these same supremacists from the pulpit, verbatim.
SBC second vice president and black pastor, Gray Frost reminds us that we can still accept an apology, no matter how little or how late it comes, when it is made out of a genuine posture of repentance and hopes of reconciliation.
“On behalf of my black brothers and sisters, we accept your apology, […] We pray that the genuineness of your repentance will be reflected in your attitudes and in your actions.”
The Impiety of Pope Pius XII and the Nazi Regime
Smithsonian Mag’s Theresa Machemer lays forth a scathing description of how Pope Pius XII either neglected or purposely ignored the calls of the allies to condemn the atrocities of the Nazi regime from his seat of papal power. Theresa states:
“To critics, the pontiff’s refusal to publicly condemn the Nazis represents a shameful moral failing with devastating consequences. In his polarizing 1999 biography of Pius, British journalist John Cornwell argued that the religious leader placed the papacy’s supremacy above the plight of Europe’s Jews, winning a modicum of power—and protection from the rising threat of communism—by becoming “Hitler’s pope” and pawn. Supporters, however, say that Pius’ silence was calculated to prevent German retaliation and ensure the continued success of the Catholic Church’s behind-the-scenes efforts to aid victims of Nazi persecution.”
Theresa makes mention to the ambiguity of the now shameful and repugnant Reichskonkordat, or the Concordat between the Holy See and the Germain Reich signed and promoted by the Vatican under Pope Pius XII’s leadership. This disgraceful agreement between the Roman Catholic Church and Hitler’s death machine focused primarily on the religious freedoms of Catholics, the freedoms to dress in priestly wear in Nazi Germany should one be a priest, and the right to display Catholic icons outside and inside Catholic churches and also the preservation of Catholic worship rights.
Pope Pius had the total authority of the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic church abroad, and worldwide to condemn the atrocities that were being committed against Jews in Europe but chose to settle for thirty-four articles of religious liberties for the sake of political peace.
Sounds oddly familiar. Sounds American.
Not only was there not peace in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, England, and the world over, but his cowardly stance on this issue will be remembered for generations to come. This failure is to be repudiated since there has been no formal apology on the side of Catholic leadership to disavow and discredit this leader’s cowardice but there are many petitions to canonize the miscreant.
“On September 18, 1942, Pius’ assistant, the future Pope Paul VI, received an eyewitness report of ‘incredible butchery’ of Jews in Warsaw. One month prior, Ukrainian Archbishop Andrzej Szeptycki had delivered a similar report informing the pope of atrocities carried out in the Lviv Ghetto, reports Haaretz’s Ofer Aderet.
Soon after, the United States’ envoy to the Vatican asked if it could corroborate accounts of mass killings in Warsaw and Lviv. In response, Vatican Secretary of State Luigi Maglione reportedly stated, ‘I don’t believe we have information that confirms this serious news in detail.’
While sifting through the papers, the researchers also found a memo from a Vatican staffer that warned against believing the reports, dismissing these accounts on the grounds that Jews ‘easily exaggerate’ and ‘Orientals’—a reference to Archbishop Sheptytsky—’are really not an example of honesty.’”
If the church is unable to condemn these aspects of its past for lack of documentation and credible sources I understand, to an extent. But the evidence here is overwhelming, as it was with the Dutch Protestant Church and with the Southern Baptist Convention, but the Vatican has yet to properly condemn its participation in the mistreatment and imprisonment of Italian Jews locally and European Jews abroad, which led to the extermination of so many Jews in the Final Solution. This blood is on the hands of both the Nazi regime and on the conscience of the churches who had the social influence to condemn these atrocities but stood idly by as families were sifted from their communities and gassed in extermination camps.
Scriptural Basis for Admitting Fault, Asking for Forgiveness and Bridging the Gap
Daniel chapter 9:1-19 HCSB (Emphasis added by me)
“In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was ruler over the kingdom of the Chaldeans: In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be 70. So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands— WE have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from Your commands and ordinances. WE have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to OUR kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land.
Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but this day public shame belongs to US: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel—those who are near and those who are far, in all the countries where You have dispersed them because of the disloyalty THEY have shown toward You. Lord, public shame belongs to US, OUR kings, OUR leaders, and OUR fathers, because WE have sinned against You. Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though WE have rebelled against Him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following His instructions that He set before us through His servants the prophets.
ALL ISRAEL has broken Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You. The promised curse written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, has been poured out on us because WE have sinned against Him. He has carried out His words that He spoke against US and against OUR rulers by bringing on us so great a disaster that nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever been done under all of heaven. Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not appeased the Lord our God by turning from OUR iniquities and paying attention to Your truth. So the Lord kept the disaster in mind and brought it on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all He has done. But WE have not obeyed Him.
Now, Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and made Your name renowned as it is this day, WE have sinned, WE have acted wickedly. Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, may Your anger and wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of OUR sins and the iniquities of OUR fathers, Jerusalem, and Your people have become an object of ridicule to all those around us.
Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of Your servant. Show Your favor to Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen, and act! My God, for Your own sake, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Daniel, the prophet and dream interpreter to the king of Babylon and later the King of Persia is seen as a righteous man who served God wholeheartedly. He was exiled, or perhaps, kidnapped by the Babylonian army at a young age from his motherland, Israel, and catapulted to the epicenter of Babylon. He was given a new name, without his consent, forced to undertake a new diet, which he declined, forced to worship a different god, which he refused, and given authority to command those who disagreed with him and he did not abuse his power nor his position when given the chance.
He was entrusted with status by kings and royalty, given a seat of power over religious leaders and governers and he did not falter for want of power. The Bible is crystal clear in condemning moral failure, no matter who commits it. But nowhere in the Bible is there a fragment or a shred of dirt on Daniel. The kid turned prophet turned magistrate of both Babylon and Persia was blameless. This does not mean he was sinless but that he was without fault. He was an upstanding guy.
But pay attention! God is at work here!
Daniel, in all his grandeur and excellency beyond kings and servants, did not fail to point out the faults of his forefathers, whose continual sins had brought upon them economic, religious, and militaristic calamity.
Daniel goes on and on about how he is part of the problem that got his people into the position they were in and it shows in how he does not distance himself from participating in this ill but places himself in it wholeheartedly.
This isn’t a process of self-immolation for the sake of communal favor but it is a righteous act of humility before God and people.
Daniel sets off to pray for his nation and the possible restoration of his people to Israel. He sets off to request forgiveness from God for his sins, the sins of his fathers, his people, his kings, and beyond for the sake of clarity and forgiveness.
Daniel set forth an example of humility at work and it paid off. If the reader continues on with Daniel’s story, from the same chapter, they will find that God answered Daniel’s prayer that same day. The Israelites were ultimately blessed by Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes) with the possibility to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the cities walls and later rebuild their temple.
All because one righteous man set off to humble himself before God and pray for forgiveness. Forgiveness not just for himself but for his entire nation. Whatever was left of it anyway.
Take Heed and Concluding Thoughts
The reason I set off to put this particular blog post together is that there is a resurgence of denialism within the American church and its embarrassing history when it comes to the mistreatment of black Americans at the hands of white American clergy and laity.
Far too many of us have believed the lie that when pointing out and condemning the sins of our fathers we then devalue the good they have done, therefore we must not even confront the evil they have perpetrated nor can we confront the lasting consequences of these evils in our society today.
This is foolish and cowardly! It’s pride at work in our hearts!
When the world looks to those who claim to represent Christ they want to see people who reflect Jesus, not people who represent denial, objection, failure to confront sin, failure to admit fault, failure to seek forgiveness of wrongs, failure to apologize, and a lack of humility!
They want to see people who stand tall like Daniel, the righteous prophet who did not hesitate to confess the horrible and demonstrably evil sins of his fathers, rulers, kings, and nation. Daniel saw that his relationship with God superseded his comfort in ignoring his nation’s marred history. He followed the precepts and designations of God who informed a previous king that if a nation, once exiled and banished from the cover of God’s blessings were to humble themselves, turn to him and call out to His name, then He would hear them from heaven and heal them. Heal their land.
Heal their hearts!
“If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
There are many American churches that have yet to grapple with the extent of their participation in the transatlantic slave trade, chattel slavery, antebellum south racism, the sentiments that led to the civil war; where American southerners, who were staunch believers, fought for their right to own slaves and treat black people as property. These same individuals and their descendants formed terrorist militias like the Ku Klux Klan after losing the war and terrorized the black community in the name of God and country. They later enacted Jim Crow laws to further divide and segregate white and black communities, to further impoverish black Americans, and lynch them when they saw fit. Many carried their Bibles into church on a Sunday morning and found themselves warming their bodies by the fire where a negro had just been burned alive. Many condemned civil rights activist and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as a race-baiting nigger who wanted nothing more than to destroy the fabric of the American society, which consisted of a white supremacist hegemony for hundreds of years and had become the standard of the land. Many believers would later celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Many would later hide their racial animosity and promote the great white flight into suburban communities which would become safe-havens for white Americans. They would bar black Americans from qualifying for loans to live within the same communities, whose children could not attend the same schools, and whose livelihood would outpace, outmatch, and outdo that of the blacks who were left to live in squalor and misery in government abandoned urban city-center communities.
Many of our American church citizens are living in the comfort of aloofness and willful ignorance, turning a blind eye to the history that separates them, their predominantly white and strangely segregated churches.
We see this when the majority of our predominantly white churches consider themselves culturally diverse and well-integrated not as a result of immersing itself in the communities it abandoned but by allowing the members of those communities to join their churches and adhere to their methods and isms. The culture within the church is predominantly European and anything other than this mode is considered pagan, unorthodox, and possibly unchristlike.
There are churches in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida who gladly display and proudly wave the Confederate flag as a show of their southern heritage whilst ignoring the terror that was caused under that particular banner in the black community in a not too distant past.
I believe that the rift between the black American church and the white American church will only be repaired and reconciled once the children of the offending party irrevocably condemn the actions of their racist forefathers; reduces the symbols, flags, and statues of confederate leaders to ash or pushes them into the darker corners of Civil War museums; and admits that there is still a virulent poison of implicit racism, discrimination, and segregation within their church communities.
Racism is still with us today and it is understandable for us to see it outside the church, as much sin proliferates and spreads in the world without catalytic factors. But to see this particular sin so present and alive inside the church to this very day, which at first was demonstrated with such animus but is now hidden under politics and willful ignorance is damnable and shameful.
We must confess it. Denounce it. Repudiate it. We must acknowledge our part in it like the Dutch Protestant Church has and like the Southern Baptist Convention has to find peace with our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith and answer the call of the Great Commission with a clean slate.
We cannot stand by or stand down like the Vatican of old and the Vatican of now and ignore the failings of our leaders, possibly hiding their faults and failures so as to save face.
Does not the Bible condemn this?
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
So why tarry? Why bicker and fight over the why must we confess the sins and ills of our ancestors when scripture clearly directs the most righteous amongst us to do so, publicly!
I pray as Daniel prayed,
“Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of Your servant. Show Your favor to Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen, and act! My God, for Your own sake, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Because our American church needs to be reconciled. The separation and segregation that stems back hundreds of years, this wall, this partition based on the sin of racism needs to be done away with once and for all for the glory of Christ and the honor of God’s creation.
“In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11
“For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:14
Until we confess these sins we will remain in Babylon (of the heart and soul), enchained, enslaved, and impoverished without hope, future, or perspective for a resolution to our lapsed race relations.
We can do better, Church. We can do better, American Church. It is time we confess our sins, explicitly and publicly, that we may be forgiven and our cross-race relationships restored.
For if the church fails to spear this mission, the world will, and when the world sets off to accomplish something outside of Christ’s character we are left with an even more broken system. Hence the rise of the Black Lives Matter organization and the embarrassing silence of the church on the issue of race.
Let us mirror the person of Christ and display humility in action. Seek out those who look different than you, who come from a different culture, a different upbringing, and listen to their stories and their brokenness. Bridge the gap, Christians. Do that which you were called to do.
I’ll leave you with the words of Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius as he addressed his soldiers before a battle from the film Gladiator:
“Brothers, what we do in life… echoes in eternity.”