Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Davis Motor Sales banner ad
Posted on 2/2/14
ronniemcbrayer300 maroonKENTUCKY (7/28/13) - It was the early 1980s. It was Texas. It was December. It was a Southern Baptist church. It is customary in Southern Baptist churches to take up an offering during the Advent season to support missionaries overseas. This collection is called the “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” named after a Baptist pioneer missionary to mainland China more than a century ago.

This is the setting young Pastor Kyle found himself in, fresh out of the seminary; green, idealistic, and zealous. Wanting to have a fantastic missions emphasis at his first church, what could be better than having an actual missionary come speak? A missionary who had directly benefited from US dollars sent overseas?

So Kyle invited one of his peers to be the special missionary speaker. He was a young man who had been raised in Africa by missionary parents, would soon be graduating with a missiology degree of his own, and would be returning to African soil to continue the good work. But there was a problem. Kyle’s friend was an African. No person of color had ever stood in the pulpit of this Texas Baptist church.

Kyle pressed on with youthful enthusiasm, however, breaking new ground. On the appointed day the young African missionary arrived and spoke with passion and love for his continent. Largely, he was received well by the congregation, but a couple of folks did walk out. When Kyle later visited one of the protestors, she met him on the porch with a shotgun and a few choice words.

Then one night at a church business meeting a man stood and said, “I’m tired of this preacher talking about race all the time, and I’m fixin’ to whip his ass.” Pastor Kyle said later, “At first the people got more upset that he said ‘ass’ in church, than the fact that he was going to whip me!” But here the guy came, climbing over the pews like scaling a ladder toward Kyle. Just as he got to him, four big men intervened and said, “If you’re going to whip the preacher…take it outside.”

Like something from a Hollywood script, the entire congregation spilt outside and gathered in a circle to see the prize fight. Kyle had no idea what to do – he was young and fit – but he didn’t think it was right to whip a parishioner at a church business meeting. But again, just as the first punch was about to be thrown, those same men intervened: “If you’re going to whip the preacher,” they said, “you’ll have to start with us.” The man backed down, never to return.

When Kyle returned to that church many years later for an anniversary service, to his jaw-dropping astonishment, half the congregation was African-American! “How could this be?” he asked a number of the “old-timers” still around from the younger days.

One man answered, “Well, preacher, after you left, the neighborhood around us began to change. And we had a decision to make: Dig in, move away, or open our doors to our neighbors. Thanks to what you taught us, we opened our doors.” Kyle’s few years at that little church in the Texas pines as an inexperienced, didn’t-know-any-better-than-to-try seminarian had really made a difference in the lives of the community.

While there is often no room in our religious structures, churches, denominations, or in our hearts for those who are different than us – due to race, gender, nationality, legal status, sexuality or what have you – God has plenty of room in his house and in his heart for all of these, with a far-reaching, outrageous grace that can replace bigotries and prejudices with acceptance and hospitality.

This doesn’t mean we won’t have to fight fiercely for what is right – even fight the intolerance inside of us – ultimately, we are our own worst enemies. But fight we must; not with clenched fists and angry words, taking up the weapons of the hateful. No, we fight with love, humility, grace, and justice. To contest otherwise, is to be defeated before the fighting ever begins.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week

January 23, 2015 9257

Local Church's Faith Restored; 71 Souls Saved…

in Video by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
January 22, 2015 7346

Nortonville Man Accused of Selling Drugs near…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 21, 2015 6672

KYDOT Pre-Treating Roads Thursday in Antipation…

in Top News For All Sites by Keith Todd
January 22, 2015 6264

MCEA Head: Further School Mergers Might Ease…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
January 23, 2015 5820

Parents Face Charges after Marijuana Joint Falls…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 25, 2015 5408

Dean’s List Announced

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Joyce Riggs
January 21, 2015 4990

Man Arrested after Allegedly Nodding off on Baby…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 26, 2015 4934

KSP Arrests Two on Child Porn Charges; MPD…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke

Most Read This Month

January 08, 2015 20805

Woman Claiming to be 'Lady Gaga' Tours Town in…

in Top News For All Sites by Madisonville Police Department
January 15, 2015 20607

UPDATE: Fatality Victim's Name Officially Released

in Top News For All Sites by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Today

January 26, 2015 4934

KSP Arrests Two on Child Porn Charges; MPD…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke
January 26, 2015 3562

Man Goes to Jail after Allegedly Attacking Family

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 25, 2015 3509

Juvenile Hit by Vehicle at McDonald's

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by GPD Officer Wes Miller
January 26, 2015 3065

School Board Votes 3-2 for Utility Tax

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 26, 2015 2927

Madisonville Post Welcomes New Troopers

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper S. C. Recke
January 26, 2015 2658

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

in General News For All Sites by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
January 26, 2015 2598

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Jan. 26, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
January 26, 2015 2425

Kentucky Highway Crews Prepared for Snow into the…

in Top News For All Sites by Keith Todd
January 27, 2015 2041

Hopkins County Grand Jury Indictments

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Karen McKnight, Hopkins Circuit Clerk
January 26, 2015 2036

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Circuit Clerk's Office
January 26, 2015 1986

McClearn Remains Optimistic I-69 Signs up Between…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Keith Todd
January 26, 2015 1398

Dawson Springs Police Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Melissa Heflin