I have contemplated what I may say to speak up during this season of global protests for “racial” justice and marches affirming that Black Lives Matter.

In the spirit of the axiom, “Actions speak louder than words!” I trust that those who have watched our ministry have witnessed two lives enjoyed free of “racial” discrimination. Leadership 101 – Leaders lead by example.

Concerning the word “race,” I prefer to use the definition of the term as understood in biological and social sciences. There is only one race, the human race. Within humanity, there is much diversity. We celebrate human diversity. It is very evident in creation that our Creator loves variety. The human race is still in “discovery-mode” concerning His creation!

“In the biological and social sciences, the consensus is clear: race is a social construct, not a biological attribute. Today, scientists prefer to use the term “ancestry” to describe human diversity.” 

(How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century by Vivian Chou – more excerpts from this referenced article are included below)

One of the pillars of thought in our ministry is this scientific/biological understanding of the term “race.” As we have had the privilege of traveling internationally, we have taken a cue from the story recorded in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 10. It is the story of the Apostle Peter’s interaction with a foreigner, Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. For Peter’s assignment to bear fruit, the Holy Spirit had to change Peter’s culturally inbred mindset toward food and non-Jews. The Spirit also had to address Peter’s longstanding emotions associated with that mindset. We humans do not change easily. Resistance to change is especially true concerning ways of thinking imparted from our family and culture over a long period.

The first indication of Peter’s mindset transformation is that Simon, the tanner, and Peter provide lodging for Cornelius’ household servant and a devout Roman soldier. They were dispatched by Cornelius to fetch Peter.

When Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house, he declares, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep close company with or approach one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man profane, ceremonially unclean, or morally unclean.” (Acts 10:28, Gary’s paraphrase)

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—” (Acts 10:34–36, NKJV – emphasis mine)

At the end of the chapter, we learn that Peter stayed with Cornelius for a few days.

In ministry travels, we opt to stay in homes whenever possible and to be hosted for meals by families in their homes. Many times we have been the first strangers with white skin to receive the hospitality of the house. This kind of connection increases the level of intimacy with our hosts. We have many stories from our experiences of being lodged and fed in the homes of beautiful people of diverse ancestries and nations. Let me share one such story.

During the decade of the ’90s, our covering church was Christ’s Center in Junction City, Oregon. Among other things, we were privilege to be mentored in relating to the Holy Spirit as a person and in international ministry by this church family. Over time an eclectic group of churches and individuals began networking with Christ’s Center. One of those churches was Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem, New York. https://www.bethelga.org


The relationship started when Christ’s Center leaders wanted to take their High School Youth Group to Harlem for street ministry outreach. Leaders began reaching out to Harlem churches to find a host church. You might imagine the response from Harlem Pastors to the notion of hosting white young people from a small town in Oregon. One of the staff Pastors at Bethel Gospel Assembly agreed to this unique request and arranged to host the Christ’s Center youth group. That divine connection and relationship grew over the ensuing years. Each summer, Christ’s Center would host a conference in Junction City for its diverse network of relationships. Leaders and congregants from Bethel Gospel Assembly would fly across the country to attend. Christ’s Center congregants hosted in these brothers and sisters in their homes. On one occasion, an invitation was extended from Bethel Gospel Assembly for members of the network to attend an anniversary celebration at their facility in Harlem. Joanne and I jumped at the opportunity. We requested to stay in the home of a congregant. Our host was a single gal who led the worship dance team. She lived in an upstairs apartment not too far from Central Park. We discovered in our conversations with her that she had done some dancing on Broadway in the past. We invited her to attend “Phantom of the Opera” with us one of the evenings we stayed with her. On the street, after the play, our hostess tried to hail a cab to take us back to her apartment. Empty taxis continued passing by, ignoring her cab-hailing gestures. Finally, she came to me and said that I had better hail a cab. I did, and the first empty cab approaching us stopped. I remember the look on the cabbies’ face when our hostess gave him her Harlem address. New York cab drivers do not want to pick up fares of black-skinned people at night because they don’t want to go into Harlem. At that moment, our hostess was not just a black woman. She was an invisible woman. Imagine navigating life and not being seen because others choose not to see you. It was a grievous experience that I will never forget.

66D4ABDC-ABB3-4B9D-A704-5CEB874120FD_1_201_aWe felt safe in Harlem and enjoyed our stay there. One morning Joanne and I waited by ourselves in front of the apartment for the van that would take us on a tour of New York City. Being from Lakeview, when you’re on the street, you acknowledge passers-by and say hi even if you don’t know the person. We decided to do our Lakeview “thing” in Harlem. Many of those who walked by responded in kind when we smiled and said hi!


More quotes from the article:

How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century

by Vivian Chou


“In 2003, scientists completed the Human Genome Project, making it finally possible to examine human ancestry with genetics.”

(There has been a) “tacit admission of our belief that our DNA can sort us into categories like the “five races:” African, European, Asian, Oceania, and Native American.” 

“A landmark 2002 study by Stanford scientists examined the question of human diversity by looking at the distribution across seven major geographical regions of 4,000 alleles. Alleles are the different “flavors” of a gene. For instance, all humans have the same genes that code for hair: the different alleles are why hair comes in all types of colors and textures.”

“In the Stanford study, over 92% of alleles were found in two or more regions, and almost half of the alleles studied were present in all seven major geographical regions. The observation that the vast majority of the alleles were shared over multiple regions, or even throughout the entire world, points to the fundamental similarity of all people around the world—an idea that has been supported by many other studies.”

“If separate racial or ethnic groups actually existed, we would expect to find “trademark” alleles and other genetic features that are characteristic of a single group but not present in any others. However, the 2002 Stanford study found that only 7.4% of over 4000 alleles were specific to one geographical region. Furthermore, even when region-specific alleles did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region—hardly enough to be any kind of trademark. Thus, there is no evidence that the groups we commonly call “races” have distinct, unifying genetic identities. In fact, there is ample variation within races.”

“In the biological and social sciences, the consensus is clear: race is a social construct, not a biological attribute. Today, scientists prefer to use the term “ancestry” to describe human diversity. “Ancestry” reflects the fact that human variations do have a connection to the geographical origins of our ancestors—with enough information about a person’s DNA, scientists can make a reasonable guess about their ancestry. However, unlike the term “race,” it focuses on understanding how a person’s history unfolded, not how they fit into one category and not another. In a clinical setting, for instance, scientists would say that diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are common in those of “sub-Saharan African” or “Northern European” descent, respectively, rather than in those who are “black” or “white.”

“We, as a species, have been estimated to share 99.9% of our DNA with each other. The few differences that do exist reflect differences in environments and external factors, not core biology.”

“Ultimately, while there certainly are some biological differences between different populations, these differences are few and superficial. The traits that we do share are far more profound.”


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