A More Excellent Way: Race And Gender Reconciliation Through Christ -- By: Brenda Salter McNeil

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 014:1 (Winter 2000)
Article: A More Excellent Way: Race And Gender Reconciliation Through Christ
Author: Brenda Salter McNeil


A More Excellent Way:
Race And Gender Reconciliation Through Christ

Brenda Salter McNeil

This article is adapted from Brenda Salter McNeil’s plenary address at CBE’s 1999 International Conference. Brenda holds degrees from Rutgers University and Fuller Theological Seminary. She currently serves on the staff of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and she is founder and President of Overflow Ministries, Inc.

I am from Chicago where a white supremacist shooter went on a rampage in July of 1999. He killed Ricky Birdsong, a friend and a member of my church, whom we called Coach. Coach was loving, jovial, very committed to reconciliation, and deeply devoted to his family. He lived in an affluent neighborhood and he was doing great work with his life. Coach was walking home from the playground with his two kids. The white supremacist had just shot at five Jewish people in the neighborhood where I used to live, and then drove to another Jewish neighborhood. My guess is he went looking for a Jewish person, just happened to see my friend Coach walking down the street with his kids, and decided a black man would do.

None of the other victims died, and I could not understand when I was told that Coach hadn’t made it. I knew I would have a hard time making sense of a senseless situation, but then I read the obituary written by Ricky’s wife:

The violent act that took my husband’s life is yet another clarion call to our nation. It is time to wake up America. God is crying out to us the words of Ephesians 5:14— “Wake up old sleeper and arise from your sleep and Christ will shine upon you and give you light.” God is giving us yet another wake-up call. Wake up America! It is time to turn back to God, to read and obey his word, to put prayer and the Bible back into our schools and daily family living. Listen, this is not a gun problem, this is a heart problem, and only God and reading his Word can change our hearts.

I agree that violence is a heart problem and that only God can change our hearts. I further believe that God has entrusted to his people the message of reconciliation. At Coach’s funeral I wanted to be bitter, but my church, which is called The Worship Center, has a reputation to uphold. I was having a hard time worshipping because I really wanted to go into the depth of my grief. Ye t as I watched Ricky’s wife and others worship God, I witnessed a testimony to the Gospel. When reporters asked what we thought and how we felt, one after another answered that we would not allow hatred and evil to overcome the love of Christ. Non-believers watched a grieving community exalt Jesus and left the funeral stunned, wondering what kind of God stands people up straight, keeps them from ...

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