I will never forget going, as a teenager, to a family reunion in Detroit. Since I'm African-American, I was sure that I was going to an all African-American family reunion. With that in mind, I said good-bye to all my Asian, European-American, and Latino friends; I didn't expect to see faces similar to theirs until I got back.


When I arrived at the reunion, the festivities began with a dinner and opening program during which a cousin of mine, who is a professional genealogist, began to talk about my family history. She began by revealing that my great, great grandfather on my mother's side was full-blooded Irish. Irish? I began to think I was at the wrong family reunion!


She went on to say that my Irish great, great grandfather married a woman who was half African-American and half Cherokee. They had a son, my great grandfather, whose skin was so light that he could pass for white. He had a son, my grandfather, who had very light skin and long, straight, shiny black hair that he wore down to his shoulders.


When I left that family reunion my life was changed. "I'm Irish," I thought to myself. "But not just Irish, I'm also Native American!" I couldn't look at Native Americans and talk about "those people," because they're my people. I could no longer see myself as just black, because I realized that I'm much more than that. Now that I'm an adult, I have still another perspective on who I am and to whom I'm related.


Remembering Our Roots


"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).


As children of God, we're supernaturally related to all those who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Regardless of their ethnicity, they're our brothers and sisters. The problem is that many local churches don't act on this; and, today more than ever, we desperately need to claim the whole family of God.


I believe our God calls us to a greater perspective, and the young people in our youth groups must experience that perspective. In times such as these, we need to show young people that Jesus' central mission was reconciliation; and through that reconciliation, we get to see that sneak preview of heaven.


Gaining Another Perspective


"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..." (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).


In many ways the most segregated hour in America is still 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The answer to overcoming this disunity lies in the future, so we must teach and equip this generation of young people to dismantle stereotypes, social dividing walls, and other ethnic divisions.