Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Story of Betrayal

Rob Parker was recently suspended from ESPN for a month for basically questioning the "blackness" of RG3. Parker's comments seem to imply that being "black", in his world, means having a broken home and marrying inside your race and being politically liberal. The small mindedness and hypocrisy of some of these guys is amazing. Blacks who have assimilated (as much as that is possible) find that in some circles they are not "black enough" and in other circles we are "too white". I have decided that I am who I am and if someone doesn't like it they can deal with it.

Actually, I am not surprised by Parkers comments and those who think like him. But it does bother me when Christians don't get it. As a Christian, my first allegiance is to the New Nation (the people of God) that Christ grafted me into. If the Church began to walk in the reality of this truth we could finally lead the world with a vision of what a united humanity is capable of. United in what? United in Christ. But I do not expect that to happen before the second coming. We will continue to see glimpses of what could be from Christians committed to walking in love (I know a lot of these people), but there will always be racism and fear. Fear has always kept the Church from taking the lead on this issue and stepping out in faith.

A few years ago I was a part of a large evangelical denomination when I pastored in Memphis, TN. In less than a year I was maneuvered out of a pastoral position by white Christian men in my denomination. These men did not attend my church, but because they controlled the purse strings and apparently I crossed some unknown line with them I was out on the street. They "blessed me" with a six months severance and pressured me into resigning.

I had moved to Memphis in January of 2008 to pastor a church in the third poorest zip code in the United States and here I was on the first Sunday of Advent unemployed in a town I barely knew. I spent the next 18 months on food stamps, working odd jobs, living off savings and eventually we lost our home through foreclosure. This was done by my "brothers in Christ". It was a difficult time for my wife, son and four daughters, to say the least. 

No one ever confronted me to inform me that I was doing something wrong. They simply decided that I needed to go. One man actually pretended to be my friend for months before joining with these others to undercut me. I later met with a key black Christian leader in the city (at her request) and she informed me that she knew why I had been pushed out of my church. I was anxious to hear her theory. She said, "The uppity black man came down from the north (Baltimore) trying to tell us (powerful white Christian leaders) how to run our business." I later found out that the men who planned my demise and sat in the room determining my severance package were pastors and elders in my own presbytery. Not one person in my presbytery came to my aid. After getting rid of me they brought in a less experienced younger black man from the south to replace me.  

I learned many lessons through this ordeal, but I think the biggest lesson was how men who profess Christ are willing to manipulate systems to accomplish their ends and justify their behavior to themselves. These men operated in the darkness to harm me and my family and stood in their pulpits weekly preaching the grace of God.

I still feel the pain of this betrayal, but I am glad it happened. Had it not happened I would not be ministering where I am today. God takes us through things that will build our trust in Him. People (the Church included) are very messed up, but I remind myself that Jesus came precisely because of that fact.

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