Since we've announced our move, we've had an incredible amount of encouragement from people, reaffirming the decision to start Echo. It's been incredibly reassuring since I feel that we're laying ourselves out and taking a risk. I cherish all the positive words but, like in everything in life, it's the negative comments that ring loudest in your ears. There have been people that have made some ridiculous statements [not about us personally, but about what we're doing]. I'd like to share one such conversation I had with someone a few days ago. Please understand before I get into this that I've dismissed the comments as ludicrous, but I think it could prove helpful to address some of the claims.

This person, a man in his fifties who could be perceived as a mature Christian, came up to me shaking his head. The first words out of his mouth were, "I can't believe you're that crazy." Obviously, he had no idea who he was talking to, but I let him continue with little interruption. I might not nail his exact words, but here's the first junk he said to me:

"I can't believe you're going down there to work with 'those people.' I work with 'those people' at my job. They're out of their minds. You need to be careful about that place because, believe me, the armies of darkness are taking it over. It's downright dangerous down there."

One thing I've learned over the years from living in a more prejudiced part of the country is that any reference made to "those people" is usually not meant to be about plumbers. The racist detection meter in my mind becomes to turn on in anticipation of a slur. But at this point, I'm still operating under the assumption that he could be referring to impoverished people. Sometimes people say things that don't come out just right and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt [for instance, as for the "armies of darkness" comment, I instantly thought of the Bruce Campbell movie that I first saw a couple of years ago with some friends in Florida. The best quote, "Gimme some sugar, baby"].

Anyway, I stop the guy and tell him that's exactly why we're going down there, to prevent the "armies" from taking over. We're going to set up shot, talk about Jesus and see if that changes the neighborhood. Unfortunately my racist detector was accurate, for he continued:

"You can try all you want, but I doubt it'll do any good. I know how those people are. And the worst are their ministers. I went to a funeral one time at a church down there and the minister said, 'the reason this guy died is because of whitey. And the only reason you whities is here is because you feel guilty.' So go ahead down there and try, but it'll be about impossible. And it's dangerous, too."

At this point I did my duty and beat the man to death with a shovel.

OK, no I didn't, but I sure did want to.

I actually stood there and pretended to listen to his comments while nodding my head. It took a couple of more minutes of listening to that crap before I could work my way out of the conversation and far away. No, I didn't refute him and you could say that I didn't do my part to correct a brother who was wrong. But I was so angry that I was either going to ignore him or tear him to shreds. And for the next two weeks I'm still a minister at Christ's Church and I don't want to do anything that would reflect poorly on the church. But if this were a few weeks from now, I might indeed have warmed the back of my shovel with his nose.

I don't have the energy to deal with this subject in this posting, but racism is one of the biggest problems the church faces. And, this is the worst part, it's taking place from within. Some of the most racist people I've met are regular church goers. It makes me want to puke. Like I said, gimme a couple weeks and I'm not going to have to take it anymore.

Until our churches repent and do their best to rid the racism within, how can we ever expect to experience the blessing of God?