I’ve been struck by many things as I’ve read the stories of two good friends, Mark and Karyn Traphagen, during their trips to the Sudan to teach the Gospel to locals so that they may teach it to each other. Mark’s latest installment, where he gets into their teaching, struck me in many ways, especially at one point that hit especially close to home:

One of the things we had emphasized is that Christian counselors and leaders must be willing to be an example of repentance and forgiveness in their own lives. … During the afternoon, we talked much about the call on Christians to cross racial and cultural barriers. We emphasized that while it is good to honor the traditions of their tribes, their allegiance must always be first to the Kingdom of God. As we talked about the story from Acts where Peter is commanded by the Lord to eat “unclean” food and then enter a Gentile’s house, I doubt I have ever been with a group more able to understand how hard that was for the Apostle.

When I first started talking about searching for a church here in Madison, I deliberately omitted the local United Methodist congregation that is predominantly—perhaps wholly—black. Having lived in the American South since 1990, I’m cognizant of the sad history of race relations inside the American church, especially in the South. Lately, though, I’ve come back to the thought of not wanting to discount the possibility of attending a church where I would be a racial minority. I don’t want to make a big deal of it, certainly, but I do think that it’s something I should discuss with the pastor first.

Which is to say that I won’t attend that church tomorrow. There are others to try first.

Mark, thank you for sharing your story and pushing on my heart a little more.

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