Accept MY STORY know YOUR STORY reduce the MYSTERY because OUR STORY is HIS STORY.
As a young man growing up on the farm in Iowa, my parents taught me early the importance of respecting and learning from all people. Because our farm was one of the more modern dairy farms at that time, we often hosted guests from around the world. This gave me exposure to people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. My parents believed the simple gospel message that “God so loved the world”. They understood that all peoples and nations were equally valued by their creator.
My dad demonstrated this several times to the occasional “black” or “brown” family that would show-up in our all white community. He would reach out with help, encouragement and even words of defense to accusing and racist neighbors. I learned at a young age that certain words and attitudes were not Godly, and would not be tolerated in my home. I was never told that, it was merely demonstrated to me. My father often tells the story of how one time in the late 60’s a neighbor (a white man) drove to our farm, jumped out of his truck to exclaim, “Pete, did you know there are n***ers hunting on your land.” My dad just looked at him and replied, “well that makes ‘em better man than you, ‘ cuz they asked”. The neighbor muttered something and drove off. Only in recent years have I really appreciated this courage, a small thing he did, but courageous at a time that few white men would call a black man “better” than a fellow white.
As a child my dad had an aunt who took him on trips to see America. One of the places she took him to see was the segregated south in the 40’s. She was an English professor from upper New York and I believe exposing her nephew to a strange and troubling world shaped they way he thought and talked about people years later.
So when I came to Minneapolis over 20 years ago I came prepared to accept and learn. That is not it say that I didn’t bring plenty of stereotypes and prejudices. But I came open to learn from God through the people he put in my life. And God was faithful to provide me some great teachers, African-, European-, Latino-, Asian-, and First-Nation Americans. As well as dear friends and mentors in Mexico and from around the world.
That is why to mark Black History Month at Sanctuary Covenant Church I shared a message about several historical and significant women and men who have inspired me with their life. These people cared more about God’s call than about their own security, they cared more about God’s community than they cared for their own individual rights.
The next few blog postings will highlight these individuals, with links to sites where you can learn more and a few lessons I see directly coming form their life. We’ll begin with African-Americans, but expand to really see the colorful tapestry God is weaving with his people in all corners of HisStory!