The Jonathan and David Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan is an all-too-rare multi-racial gathering of men committed to the Lord, their Christian faith, and a heartfelt desire to grow in brotherly love.
Founded and directed by Rev. Chico Daniels, President of Mel Trotter Ministries, the JDF, as it's called, meets monthly for breakfast, Bible study, and discussion, 7:00 am to 8:30 am. In the interim between breakfasts, JDF men meet one-on-one for lunch to get better acquainted and periodically show up en masse and unannounced with their wives at one of the churches represented in the JDF.
During Bible study and discussion, no questions are off-limits. Pain, personal stories, and progress all find their way into the conversation. Often-used words don't seem adequate: integration, reparations, reconciliation, anger, healing, history, revisionism.
No one, if he's honest, really wants to discuss past sins, but sometimes it's appropriate so those responsible may experience forgiveness and those affected may experience release and closure. Be angry at sin, not the people, we sometimes say. But in our human nature our response is uneven. Yet Christ, a Jew, set the example when he met the woman, a Samaritan, at the well. He acknowledged and turned from her promiscuous past, but he offered her forgiveness and living water.
Race in America will always be "an issue," especially again in 2008 where differences in color and culture are at times over-shadowing legitimate discussions of personal character and political competence in the presidential campaign. We are a "conflicted" people, evidenced by one of our most eloquent heroes of freedom, Thomas Jefferson, a man who maintained slaves and a slave mistress throughout his life.
Political answers to our racial questions may help. Clearly the country has made some progress in racial matters since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But answers to our racial questions will never be fully developed in the give and take of politics.
Answers to our racial questions will most fully be developed in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, followed by a greater application in our lives of the principles of the Christian faith. Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is only possible as we abide in Christ and he abides in us. Learning to do this by getting to know our brothers in the Jonathan and David Fellowship is one way to start.
© Dr. Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2008
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