I recently ordered copies of a book – one book for each family unit here at Burning Hearts. The books are a gift to you. And what is the book? It is entitled Reconstruction in America. I will tell you WHY I ordered these books for you all, but first let me give you a bit of my personal background as it relates to race relationships.
I grew up in Michigan, attending all-white schools and an all-white church. The only black person I came to know back then was a black maid who came to our house one day a week to clean. I was too young and naïve to be aware of racial tensions, problems or injustices. I do recall that there was a man who attended the church my dad pastored who was part of the John Birch Society. I didn't know what that meant, but I knew it had something to do with opposing Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school we moved to Phoenix, Arizona. There I attended a high school that had only one black student: a girl, whose parents brought her to school each day in their Rolls Royce.
After high school was college and because of a real spiritual turn around in my life a couple years earlier I very much wanted to attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Once there I almost immediately was thrust into situations where I was having regular involvement with African-Americans, some of whom were tremendous Christians. During one of my years at Moody my "Practical Christian Work" assignment was to teach a Junior High Sunday School class at an all black church (Second Timothy Baptist Church) on the south side of Chicago. That was a great experience and it again put me in contact with some great black Christian men.
Eventually I made my way to Westminster Theological Seminary where my roommate for part of that time was Lem Tucker, a black "All-American" football star who would later go on to become the president of Voice of Calvary Ministries. It was Lem who did much to educate me about our nation's history of racial injustice, particularly in the South. It was during that time that I read the autobiography of Malcolm X, a book that has remained on my "top ten" books ever since.
Following seminary I became an inner-city museum manager in Philadelphia while Ruth and I traveled some 30+ minutes to attend the suburban Baptist church that we had earlier joined. Looking back I wish we had involved ourselves in an inner-city church near where we lived (lower Germantown). We moved out to Lancaster County after several years of marriage where I became a real estate agent with Century 21. Then in 1986 I became the pastor at Lancaster Evangelical Free Church (LEFC). My fulltime duties as pastor at Burning Hearts began on January 1, 2011. It was while pastoring at LEFC that some 20+ years ago I met Rev. Edward Bailey, the 6'10" tall black pastor at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lancaster city. It was with Ed and his wife Lee that Ruth and I went to Uganda back in the early 2000s. Through the years Ed has become a closer and closer friend.
So, back to the book I have for you… Having myself read this really well put together brief book (about 100 pages), my hope is that in reading it you also will gain a better understanding of some of the horrific injustices that have led to the current racial situation in America. Many of our current problems are rooted in these injustices that took place 150 or more years ago. Understanding the history won't solve the problems but it will aid us all in working towards good solutions to those problems. And don't we all agree that we could use some good solutions? May God help us to that end.