Roger Helle / January 19, 2022

True Racial Reconciliation

Racism, hate, whatever you call it, is a heart issue. You cannot make it go away on your own.

On Monday, we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for civil rights. His courage was an incredible example for future generations — not just for people of color, but for all of us.

His dream was to live in a nation “where they [his children] will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The political Left killed the dream years ago. Today, race is everything. Since Obama’s presidency, I feel racial reconciliation has been set back over 50 years. How do we get back to the progress we were making?

In 1989, the Christian Broadcasting Network began hosting Victory Over Vietnam Conferences. I had the honor of facilitating the seven conferences. One day I was speaking on the subject of “Survivor’s Guilt.” Many veterans identified with this, and when prayer was offered for healing of those memories, many came forward.

One African-American Navy veteran asked if he could say something. He told the group he had a lot of bitterness against whites. His name was Roosevelt, but his friends called him “Rosie.” Rosie was a big man and his anger made him more intimidating. I asked Rosie if he wanted to be free of the hatred. He knew it was a burden he could not carry.

Before praying, I asked Rosie if he would forgive me as I stood in the place of every white person who had ever hurt him. He said he would. As Rosie and I prayed, tears flowed down our faces as we wrapped our arms around each other tightly. As so often happens, others in the room began to confess their hatred of others and prayed for forgiveness for those feelings. Not all of the bitterness and hate was against people of color, but all of us have been wounded by life!

Racism, hate, whatever you call it, is a heart issue. You cannot make it go away on your own. The more people are accused of being racist, the worse the matter becomes. There is only one answer I have ever found that works. It is through faith in Christ and being reconciled to each other by God’s mercy and grace. As we have been forgiven, so we freely forgive others.

Rosie and I haven’t seen each other for years. But we write and text each other often. I have a picture of Rosie and his wife in my desk. I take it out whenever I wonder if racial reconciliation is possible, which I’m happy to say is not often. I look at the photo because I love the guy and I love seeing Jesus in his eyes.

Rosie has had a tough life. A few years ago, his son was robbed on the streets of Detroit. Even after he gave the gang members his money, they killed him in cold blood. Forgiveness is not a “one and done” event. We both have suffered the loss of family and friends, but we also know if we have hope, we have all we need.

As you listen to politicians and media elites, ask yourself: Are they helping or hurting reconciliation? Are they bringing people together, or are they throwing gas on the fires of racism to keep us divided? Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.”

Something to pray about!

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