A True Story of Prejudice, Forgiveness, and True Reconciliation
Can racial prejudice ever be forgiven? If so, what would true reconciliation look like in our country and particularly in our houses of worship?
Consider the following true story from Marvin Williams, Lead Pastor at Trinity Church in Lansing, Michigan:
One year at our church, I was teaching the Old Testament book of Malachi. The sermon series was called “Reset.” In the next-to-last message, we were resetting justice: “Correcting injustice in the world begins with God correcting injustice in me.”
After the service, a man came up and said he needed to ask me to forgive him. “When you were introduced as the candidate for senior teaching pastor, I didn’t vote for you.”
“I’m sure many people didn’t vote for me,” I said, hoping to reassure him.
“You need to know why I didn’t vote for you,” he replied. I continued to listen. He told me that because of some past experiences in his life he had developed a spirit of prejudice and racism against black people. In essence, he was saying he didn’t vote for me because I was black.
As we stood together, he began to weep and asked me if I would forgive him. “It’s not a problem,” I said. He retorted, “Listen, you don’t understand. I really need you to forgive me. I don’t want the junk of prejudice and racism spilling over into my kids’ lives. I didn’t vote for you, and I was wrong. God is using your preaching to impact my life.”
This man heard God and was acting on what he heard. I forgave him. We hugged for a good while, weeping in each other’s arms. I was moved and humbled, and I rejoiced in being reminded that God had me in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
That next Sunday we wrapped up Malachi, and people were invited to share how the series had impacted their lives. The gentleman I had met, stood up, and told what God had done in his heart. The congregation cheered and whistled, and I sensed that God was on the move creating His Church.
The Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI) is actively involved in the current, ongoing conversation about racial reconciliation unfolding throughout our country and involving the work of God’s people everywhere.
Trinity Church is one of the hundreds of organizations throughout the U.S., Canada, and around the world that have partnered with BCWI and successfully increased their level of employee engagement while building a healthy, flourishing workplace culture to better fulfill their distinctive calling and mission. Find out more.
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