Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Price of Reconciliation

A LONG but necessary Introduction to an article I recommend, the link of which is found at the end of this reflection.

There are stories that need to be told, but often aren't told because those who experience them are either not in a position to make the stories known, or because of humility those who take risks for the good are usually hesitant to present themselves as heroes. Since 1992, Luz Bautista Jackson and I have served in various capacities as missionaries of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board, formerly known as the Home Mission Board when our journey with NAMB began.

During that journey, we have met people much like the ones presented in this article. They did what was right, when it was right and it often cost them. I actually rubbed shoulders with Jack Kwok, mentioned in this story and was always amazed by his friendly and supportive manner for newbies like us in the Oho Convention when we first started. This article helps me understand more about his heart and his consistently loving support.

Luz and I were benefactors of people who did what they could to make a difference. The wanted to do something and sometimes, that "something" was calling an eager, yet inexperienced couple, ready to build bridges between people. Richard Alan Duncan, Ken Render, Dennis Betts, Matt Trombley, Kevin Butcher , Paul Rhoads, Jerry Worsham and Jamie Rasmussen, along with countless others took chances and walked with us during very stormy seasons as we joined them in trying to make a difference for the Kingdom of God, among people of different cultures.

As I continue to grow in perspective, my appreciation for these people grows as well. I remember these co-laborers and others like them who embraced us as friends and colleagues. The were not and are not perfect. If perfection is the goal, reconciliation will forever elude us. Along my life journey, I too have made missteps, wrong steps, backward steps and sometimes, no steps where progress should have been made. In many cases, I received much grace and as allowed to press on. Where forgiveness was not extended, I remembered the feeling of hopelessness that came from good intentions rejected out of hand, and have sought to be more gracious in my own dealings when others make mistakes as well.

I share this article to offer a little illumination from the inside. Evangelicals in general and Southern Baptists in particular are favorite targets of those claiming to pursue understanding and unity with the United States between races. While high profile members of any organization or theological bent may make statements that are outrageous and divisive, in a nation as large as ours and groups as large as the Southern Baptist, those with the biggest microphones do not necessarily represent all members of any given group. Also, those fighting the good fight are generally too busy fighting the fight to advertise or "speechify" what they're doing. They are too engaged making a difference than to tell others about it and to do their own promotion as well. In addition, don't expect too many articles or news flashes on pockets of active cooperation and efforts to get along, even when they exist, because good news doesn't tend to attract good coverage.

But do take the time to read this article. The people mentioned therein didn't seek this recognition for themselves. Thankfully, someone noticed the similarities of heart and sacrifice, decided to shine a light on it and to share it for others to be encouraged. Personally, it's great to know that while Luz and I often feel alone, the reality is that God has yet reserved "seven thousand -- all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." May their tribes increase!


Samuel D Jackson

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