By PASTOR REGINALD WALKER
The focus for this month’s Mission Mississippi Moments article, as we endeavor to delve deeper, is Deeper Understanding. Our scripture reference is found in Proverbs 4:7, which reads, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (KJV).
To establish a deeper understanding requires the investment of time to nurture a relationship. However, for a genuine and lasting relationship to develop, there must be vulnerability. A willingness to open one’s life up to allow another in. No relationship can flourish unless there is trust. You can’t or won’t trust someone with whom you are not intimately acquainted, until you are familiar with both their character and nature. Such intimacy not only requires time, but quality time. My personal involvement with Mission Mississippi over the last 25 years has afforded me many opportunities to invest the time prescribed.
Permit me to share with you one such Mission Mississippi moment. Several years ago, Terry White (who also happens to be white), while serving as senior pastor of Crossway Church of Vicksburg (he has since retired), invited me to be interviewed live as part of his Sunday morning worship service. I was invited to openly discuss the topic of racial reconciliation. I was asked questions on what I thought whites should know from the black perspective. He shared his questions in advance so I would not be blindsided.
Most of us fear things that we don’t know or understand. Having that opportunity, I believe, led to a deeper understanding for all of the parties present. I was able to freely share my perspective, and they were able to see that all of us don’t “bite.”
At the time of the event, Terry and I had probably known each other for about eight years. Through our monthly Mission Mississippi pastors’ gatherings, he and I had developed a friendship and had even dined at each other’s homes. Although I had already developed this relationship with him, my respect for his commitment to create racial harmony soared that Sunday. As a pastor, I understood the scrutiny he may have endured. Not only had he invited a black pastor from a black church to his all-white church, he’d invited one of a totally different denomination. That demonstrated the trust he had in me.
In the 14th chapter of Romans, there was dissension and disagreement among members of the early church over matters of diets and holy days, with each side convinced in their own minds of their own rightness. Still today, there are many polarizing issues that seem to push us apart, when Christ shed His blood to bring us together as one.
If we exert all of our efforts focusing only on that on which we disagree, there will always be division. However, we need not be UNIFORM to be UNIFIED. My wife and I have been happily married for nearly 40 years, and there are still many things on which we disagree. But we have both learned to accept those differences and allow the love of Christ and our love for each other to help us to disagree without being disagreeable. In that same chapter, the apostle Paul encouraged those believers in Rome to do the same: “follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith we may edify one another” (v. 19).
When you open your life or your world to someone, you run the risk of them abusing that trust. I readily admit that such vulnerability puts one at risk of being hurt. However, the rewards that true relationships afford (in marriage or friendship) present benefits that make the risk worthwhile.
Over the years, I have personally developed friendships with ministerial colleagues, both white and black, that likely would not exist outside the purview of Mission Mississippi. The deeper understanding that we have for one another can be directly attributed to the platform that Mission Mississippi provides. #DeeperUnderstanding
Reginald Walker and his lovely wife, Sherry, have been the senior pastors of Word of Faith Christian Center in Vicksburg for 21 years. They have two adult sons and five beautiful grandchildren.