Tag Archives: black

Healing Our Racial Division with the Fiery Passion of Pentecostal Love

As our American friends are in the midst of their 2016 presidential election, politicians are on the campaign trail explaining the reason to be voted as a president. The country is divided in many ways where activists ranging from race, to gender, to class and to religion are all crying out to be heard. When it comes to race, the division is much more sharp and piercing. Both Democratic and Republic politicians are professing to be the glue to unify their nation and mend the divide between Black, White, and Brown people.

Canadians may laugh at the made-for-t.v., political circus and comic show down South. Yet there are challenges of division with racism as deals with Afro-Canadians/Caribbean and First Nations and its offshoot religious racism with Muslims/Syrians/Middle East migrants and residents. It seems that both nations are having a difficult time closing the divide and opening our hearts. Americans are more blatant in their vitriol whereas Canadians are subtler. Either way – both are dehumanizing! I believe the Pentecostal Church could provide a road map for unity and reconciliation where both countries could learn from.

The Pentecostal/Charismatic Church is the fastest growing church in the world and approaching the size of the Roman Catholic Church as the largest Church family. The phenomenal growth and size is not by fluke. It is intentionally based on an open door and outreach position for diverse cultures and nations to embrace the message of Gospel love. Where did this attitude of passion fiery love come from for Pentecostals/Charismatics to reach out to Russians, Brazilians, Filipinos, Nigerians, Chinese etc.?

On April 1906, in a rundown church in Los Angeles, a passionate Black preacher William Seymour with a loyal group of Black Christians who prayed for racial unity and Christian unity. What made this prayer and fervor unique was in the midst of Jim Crow laws that these brave Christians were extending themselves to hug racist White Christians. God rewarded their desires by a phenomenal event where those Black Christians miraculously spoke in a different language never taught to them. This documented event echoed biblical times just after Jesus’ death and resurrection where the Early Church spoke miraculously through God’s Spirit in a different language to share the good news of Jesus to a diverse yet divided crowd in Jerusalem. What happened in Los Angeles 1900 years later known as the Azusa Street Revival had the similar effective power where it drew different races. Many of them experienced this miracle of speaking in a different language (called tongues speaking) and other miracles like healing. But the biggest miracle was the beginning to heal the divide of racism (and sexism) between people and their segregated churches. The reason being the experience was bigger than any race or culture (or gender). This Déjà vu moment was God pouring his love on all people, which humanized and humbled racist and sexist people to see each other with dignity and equality.

Although the Pentecostal Church is a human organization, not perfect and still struggles with racism and sexism like other organizations, but they have learned principles and practices to overcome the sin by God’s love. And the people are their fruit. This compassionate experience plus a compelling story is what our respective countries need to hear – especially our politicians. And quite possibly, they can feel the fire of unity that these men and women felt at Azusa Street. We can only pray in tongues for that miracle to happen.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Mandela: Through Eyes of Faith

These last couple weeks have been a month of reflection for the world as we think about Nelson Mandela’s life.  There has been a plethora of coverage on Mandela’s passing. You cannot seem to turn somewhere whether on television or social media and not run into some biography, video montage or reflection. Many Black pastors are chiming in during their worship services to say their peace in ad nauseam about Mandela. Understandably, this has made some Christians anxious and uneasy. There are some sincere Christians who may be saying “Aren’t we idolizing Nelson Mandela? Why are we talking about him in a church setting? I came to church to hear Jesus not a man!” Questions like these require pastors to demonstrate that their speech and action is grounded in Scriptures. They must prove their rhetoric coheres with the narrative and teachings of Christ and the Apostles. What does the Bible have to say about this concern? If Pastors are not familiar enough with Scripture to give a sound reason, then what else should sincere Christians do – but worry. I hope to allay some of those fears with this short thought for you to build on.

When dealing with these kinds of issues of respect versus reverence, we always run the risk of going from one extreme to another: idolizing Mandela on one hand to ignoring Mandela on the other. Is there a middle ground? I will suggest there is: interpreting Mandela. More accurately – rightly interpreting in light of Scriptures… The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:8, has given us something to consider when dealing with these issues. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” The key terms are honorable and worthy of praise. Both terms in the original Greek of the New Testament carry the similar sense of esteemed, noble and well-respected. St. Paul has encouraged the Philippian church during the 1st Century to think and reflect on these things. Notice that Paul has not qualified his statement by saying the admirable thing, action or person has to come from a Christian. It just has to be right and good. Christians can agree with non-Christians when something is esteemed, noble and well respected. Christians can celebrate non-religiously with non-Christians with the understanding that God has orchestrated this achievement. Whatever that achievement is, if it is honorable and worthy of praise, we can celebrate it. However, to balance our praise, the Apostle Peter reminds us as well to “Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king” (1 Peter 2:17). Considering that fear or better said reverence is a stronger word than respect for esteeming someone, it is clear from St. Peter on whom we should concentrate our praise on – the Lord Jesus. Whether Nelson Mandela was a Follower of Christ or not is not the issue. We can praise the actions of someone if it reflects the Kingdom – the way that God intended society to be fair and just. The Scriptures in Romans 13:1-5  and 1st Timothy 2:1-3 tells us that God appoints leaders (i.e. presidents, prime ministers, kings etc.) to help bring order and peace in the society we live in. This order includes the removal of apartheid and the commencement of reconciliation between Black South Africans and White South Africans. Therefore, we should have no problem saying that God used Nelson Mandela to that providential end. We can rejoice not just for Mandela but the God of justice, peace and reconciliation who made this happen ultimately.

God shows us the embodiment and standard of these virtues through Jesus Christ whom Mandela patterned. By celebrating the work of Mandela, we uphold the Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4:8.  This means we do not ignore. By thanking God for Mandela’s work, we equally uphold Scripture’s teachings. “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” (1st Timothy 2:1-3 NLT) This means we do not idolize. Now we are just left to interpret rightly and appropriately.

I encourage us as Followers of Christ to use Nelson Mandela’s actions toward justice, peace and reconciliation as a springboard to the Good News. An opportunity to share our faith! If one man can bring powerful leaders, friends and enemies alike into one palace, in unity with guns and weaponry laid at the altar so to speak, how much more Christ? How much more should we long the day when Christ will be the centre of the world’s attention like Mandela’s memorial service? The day Jesus brings men and women, rich and poor, rulers and commoners, Black and White alike to worship him in speech and song forever within the new world! Let’s use Nelson Mandela’s life as a reminder to us and especially others that Jesus, the Messiah will create a world of justice, peace and reconciliation. The way the world ought to be. So let’s do our part as Mandela did his.

~Denley W. McIntosh

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Poor Judgement or Pitiful Junkie

It is easy to look at the Mayor Rob Ford pictures and video of illicit drug activity, and then fill-in-the-blank to complete the story. I’m quite surprised the Media is not considering another possible metanarrative. They are merely submitting answers and saying they are correct as the story. I propose an alternative fill-in-the-blank.

Rob Ford was hanging out with the youths, many from his football team, as a way to bond and connect. This was his usual custom. But as teenagers sometimes do, they can get pretty rowdy when they get together. On this rowdy occasion, his young men had let him down. The youths were engaged in illicit activities while the Mayor was around. Of course, this did not bother the youths, because they saw Rob-Rob as one of the boys and not the “Mayor”. This putted Mayor Ford in a compromising position. At that moment, he had to decide what he would do. He either shutdowns the party and call the police on his youths – losing their respect for him. Or he overlooks it (with a bothering conscience) and goes with the flow for the greater good of his youths. I surmise he went with the latter option, which may explain the shots and video.

 By no means that I am claiming this to be the story for it is speculative, but what makes the Media story more credible than mine? It is the Media’s job to properly frame all possibilities, but instead it has landed on a hypothesis and pontificate it as truth. Clearly this does not meet fair and unbiased reporting as they are upheld to do. If anything we can get from the pictures and video that there was some poor judgement by Mayor Ford. However, we cannot equate poor judgement with being a pitiful junkie.

I think most men will agree with me:  Men tend to be very loyal to their friends and will do everything in their power to handle issues in-house before we invite external help. We have to think from Mayor Ford’s point of view. He was not going to “rat out his boys”. He is too loyal, and he is not going to jeopardize their social standing for them being teenagers. They are his children in some respects.

 One of the funniest things about tests that have fill-in-the-blanks, we tend think what we fill in as answers are unquestionably right. Lo and behold we are surprised when the teacher returns our test with different answers to the story. We are shocked but on a further thought, we hit ourselves saying that makes total sense. (Or we get angry with the teacher for not accepting our story.) I hope Ms. Truth will substantiate the test papers the Media has handed in. The blanks correctly filled in. Otherwise, Principal Justice is waiting for them.

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Charles Ramsey – A Real American Hero?

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“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she homeless, or she got problems. That’s the only reason she run to a black man.” And with those words Charles Ramsey is thrust into stardom. From the tube to YouTube is colored with Charles Ramsey candor. His rugged charm is inescapable. Thoughts – unvarnished. Feelings – unfiltered.  Charles Ramsey is raw to the bone. I think this is one of the appeals of Charles Ramsey.

Without diminishing the fact that 3 women who were rescued from 10 years of hell in a home dungeon, out of the grips of a ‘mad man’, Ariel Castro, I want to focus on Charles Ramsey’s claim to fame. It is not that he sought fame, but it is more conferred on. We the viewers claim him as our knight in shining armour who performed this heroic feat. He is the people’s knight – unassuming and unabashed. Far from the mythic character that we usually see of our heroes, this “Dark Knight” does not come to us as a heralded doctor, shrewd lawyer, or courageous firefighter. He comes as simply the guy next door – the guy or gal that we always want to be but feel ashamed to be outside our home.

The pressure to live up to be someone who you are not can be very deflating – no doubt imprisoning. Where all the images you see in the media are people with the million-dollar smile, suave hair do, and picturesque career of an entertainer, the allure builds to take on the mythic persona: beautiful, strong and flawless. Unfortunately, beauty is fleeting; strength is taxing; and flawlessness is elusive. Nevertheless we pursue these elusive qualities, and the bars within are strengthened. The inner imprisonment is lengthened.  Charles Ramsey is our momentary breath of fresh air from a regular hero. He is our hero, akin to John Hancock, to help release us.

You remember the 2008 film Hancock where Will Smith starred as a bumbling superhero? We may have chuckled a bit when hearing that term: a bumbling superhero. It seems so oxymoronic. Superheroes are supposed to be perfect, sober and virtuous. In a word: godlike. They meet Plato’s idea of the Ideal. Hancock is definitely not, and so is ours.

Charles Ramsey is a figure that runs and flies against our contemporary norms. Unconsciously, this is what we are seeking, and maybe Charles Ramsey is a valve to let us release this pressure – a pressure to perform to an unattainable standard. Thus, we are drawn to Charles hearty laugh, folksy persona and Black jargon. We are drawn to his frankness. Yes, we are drawn to him. We finally find a hero, our GI Joe who says what is on his mind; who bears his chest; and who could care less what others may think of him. He is not a devolved Neanderthal but an involved human who saw an opportunity to love beyond his comfort zone and help those resilient women out of the Castro house of horrors. So he speaks. We listen. This is what we yearn to be, but many of us are imprisoned and would like to be set free. Free to be…free to be like Charles Ramsey – our American hero!

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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