How Should White Conservative Christians Serve Our Urban Communities? Practically Answered

volume 19, number 22, May 21, 2020

“. . . so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”-Ephesians 3:10

Arthur George (A.G.) Gaston (1892-1996) was born into poverty in Demopolis, Alabama. His father was a railroad worker and his mother a cook. When A.G. was a teenager the family moved to boom town Birmingham, established some thirty years earlier, as a major steel producing center, called the “Pittsburgh of the South” since all the ingredients necessary for making steel were at Red Mountain and Jones Valley. A.G.’s mother went to work for A.B. Loveman, a Jewish merchant, who built one of Birmingham’s most prestigious department stores called Loveman’s. A.G. observed Mr. Loveman’s work ethic, long hours, and business savvy and decided he wanted the same thing for himself. He went to work in the coal mines in Birmingham but also sold sandwiches, which his mother made, to his fellow workers. He saved two-thirds of every dollar he made. Soon he had enough money to become a lending agency to other miners. A.G. was able to attend Tuggle Institute which followed the educational model of Booker T. Washington. Gaston, after many years of persevering in the midst of great hardship, including living in Jim Crow Birmingham, probably the most segregated city in America, began to make progress economically. He opened a funeral home which led to manufacturing caskets. Mr. Gaston, the consummate entrepreneur, branched out into many other businesses: the Booker T. Washington Business College, Brown Belle Bottling Company (his only significant failure), the Citizens Federal Savings and Loan Association (one of the leading black owned banks in the United States), and the A.G. Gaston Motel. When he died at the age of 103 Gaston was worth $130 million.  

Carol Swain was born in Bedford, Virginia in 1954. She was the second oldest of twelve children with whom she shared two beds with her eleven siblings. She lived in a shack with no running water. Her father left the family when she was very young and her mother was disabled with polio. She had no shoes so when it snowed she missed school. She quit school before ninth grade, married at sixteen to get out of the house, and had two children by the time she was nineteen. After swallowing a bottle of pills in what she called “one of her suicidal moments,” the attending physician told her that she was very smart and attractive, that she should really think about going to college. That thought had never crossed her mind, but she got her GED, enrolled at Roanoke College, worked full time, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and continued her education, graduating from Virginia Tech MA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill PhD, and Yale MLS. She was a tenured professor at Princeton (1990-1999) and Vanderbilt (1999-2017). She has written numerous books and articles and has appeared many times on CNN and Fox News. She ran as a conservative for mayor of Nashville in 2017 and narrowly missed qualifying for the runoff election. 
Carol Swain is one of many conservative black thinkers who are not buying the leftist narrative that our nation was birthed in racism and that consequently the poverty and other problems now in the black community are due to the vestiges of slavery. Robert Woodson and numerous black conservatives have written extensively on the undisputed fact that some blacks prospered very well in the Jim Crow south and in northern segregation. To say otherwise is an insult to black people. They are perfectly capable of accomplishing anything any white person is able to accomplish, as they certainly did in very trying circumstances. 

So, what should white conservative Christians do to serve our urban communities? I am stating what should be obvious—that those who are in Christ Jesus, who are born again by the work of the Spirit, are one people in Jesus Christ. There is no distinction. There is no one group better or inferior to another group (Col.3:10). So, treat our brothers and sisters of color with the same respect you do anyone else. Furthermore, unless you are in fact guilty of racism, then do not allow yourself to be manipulated by the lie of “white guilt”. Leaders of the “racial enterprise” have been able to manipulate many white people by calling them racists if they don’t go along with the victim narrative. And do not fall for the notion of “white privilege.” Okay, maybe you did grow up in a nice family and your mom and dad had the money to put you through college and to set you up in business. Do we not believe in the sovereignty of God? You had no choice concerning the family into which you were born. At the very least, if you have much, then you are to follow Jesus who said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Don’t allow anyone to manipulate you with the “white privilege” moniker. 

So, how can white, conservative Christians serve our urban communities? You have resources. Perhaps you have business savvy. Maybe you have money. Get behind individuals, schools, businesses, and churches in our urban communities that are getting things done. Look for what Bob Woodson calls “Islands of Excellence.” Offer your time, money, and talent. I have lots of friends doing that right now in numerous ways in Fairfield, Alabama, a city that has seen better days. Urban Hope Community Church with Alton Hardy, Dion Watts, et al are doing a phenomenal job of reaching young black men. These young men are coming to faith in Christ, getting off drugs, getting out of gangs, finishing high school, getting entry level jobs, tithing to their churches, marrying and rearing their children with their wives. They are also having a significant impact on the nearby Miles College campus. Restoration Academy, a Christian school in Fairfield, is also giving a quality education for predominately black and poor children. The Hope Health Clinic in Fairfield, is offering quality medical care for the poor and under insured. These are productive ministries and you should find similar ministries in your town and get behind them.

Practically, how do you “get behind” them? Perhaps the following can illustrate what I mean. I have been working for several years in a country where Christians are severely persecuted. I have a godly friend in this country who is a great trainer and discipler of men. He knows the language and culture. I do not. But I have helped raise funds to support many young pastors. Many churches and pastors in the U.S. are now involved in the ministry. We lend our Biblical, theological, and pastoral expertise, funnel financial resources to them, pray for them, encourage them, and travel occasionally there to give instruction. This is their ministry, not ours. Our intention is to work ourselves out of a job, so to speak. The ministry is gospel driven. We preach the vital necessity of regeneration by the Spirit. We urge them to major on the major.

In similar fashion, this is how white conservative Christians can serve our urban communities. You should feel no obligation to leave your church and move to the inner city. Now, if God leads you to do so, then by all means, follow His leading. However, the best thing you can do is find ministries where God is actually changing lives, even if it is only a few at a time, and then invest heavily in those ministries.

And if you are a black, suburban Christian, how should you serve the Urban community? You do not have to leave your suburban church either. If however, you have bought into Critical Race Theory or Intersectionality then I ask you to reconsider your premise. There is a lot of “virtue signaling” going on in both the black and white communities. A great deal of what poses as help is no help at all. May I suggest you read conservative black thinkers like the ones mentioned in this article as well as men like Walter Williams, Larry Elder, and Thomas Sowell. I also urge you to invest your time, money, and expertise to help our brothers and sisters in our urban communities reach the people there with the only message which can change a person, family, community, or nation—the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The multidimensional, surprising, altogether lovely wisdom of God—in this case white conservative Christians working together with our black brothers and sisters in the urban communities of our nation to bring about true and lasting change through the gospel of Jesus Christ—comes through the church, not through government or through secular means. And when this happens the authorities both in heaven and on earth marvel at what God is doing through those who come together under the banner of the cross, respecting and loving one another, treating one another with love and respect, seeing a nation transformed by the simple preaching, evangelizing, and discipling of people of every ethnic group, all to the glory and praise of God. 

1   <> Essays by black conservative thinkers like Shelby Steele, Clarence Page, John McWhorter, Jason Hill, Wilfred Riley, John Wood, Bob Woodson, and Carol Swain put an entirely different spin on the leftist narrative which leaves us with the impression that black people cannot possibly get ahead in what race baiters call “racist” America. 
2 ”Racial enterprise” is a term I first heard in The Glenn Show Podcast with Glenn Loury interviewing Bob Woodson <The Glenn Show—Islands of Excellence> This podcast is outstanding. The term “racial enterprise” speaks of men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who make a nice living by shaking down corporations, threatening to call them racist if they do not contribute to their cause. Jesse Jackson has done quite well at this. His net worth is $10 million. As a side note, Jesse Jackson claimed to be the one holding Martin Luther King’s head in his hands when King was shot in Memphis in April, 1968. He was lying. Ralph David Abernathy was the one ministering to King. Jackson, the consummate opportunist, was downstairs. Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides, page 190.

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