I believed that I would never go back to ministry. It was my belief that after being forced to resign from my last ministry call in 2016 that ministry was over for me. I remembered hearing in Seminary that most ministers did not last five years. I had made it five on the dot.
When a minister loses his calling, he or she faces an ontological crisis. 'Who am I and what I am I supposed to do' are just a few of the questions that one has to ask themselves. The feeling that I had blown it - were always present with me. I struggled so much with the feelings of shame about my past, my mistakes, and my sins. And quietly, I began to force myself to imagine a life apart from ministry.
But despite the depression and the fear of not knowing what direction life would take me, I persisted. Or should I say, God persisted. (Philippians 1:6) I knew that I wanted to help people, whether it was in a church or for a salary or not. It was here, that working with Black Lives Matter opened my eyes in ways that were never opened despite working five years in pastoral ministry.
I allowed myself to be exposed to the racial suffering that I had unknowingly hid myself from by working in White Evangelical churches. I began to rub shoulders and share tears with those in the LGBT community, something that I wouldn't do within the traditional Black church. And I met Jesus - again - as I was deeply convicted with the knowledge of not only my own personal sins, but my sins of ignorance of failing to care for those who were outside of my Christian bubble.
FORK IN THE ROAD
In the summer of 2017, I was in Colorado and felt like I was at a crossroads. I was 37 years old with nothing much to show for my life except two expensive college degrees and my faith. By worldly standards I was a failure. (No wife, no kids, no home, etc.) It was here that I embarked on a 20-day fast from food in order to pray. In that fast I began to pray so fervently that tears would stain my pillow. "Lord, show me your will, show me your will," I cried. I had the hope that Colorado might be a good place just to settle down and live a quiet life of monotony. (At least I could smoke trees legally to escape my pain.) But pretty soon, even the monotony became unbearable. "Lord show me your will," I began to pray more fervently.
I remember it was day 13 of the fast. I hadn't eaten anything for two weeks and was feeling extreme cramps in my body. "Lord, show me your will!" I cried alone on my bed. That is when I sensed the Lord speaking to me more clearly than I had ever heard. "I have called you to preach and teach. I have broken you that you might heal others." I was shaken to my core. But I had no doubt what I heard.
CHURCH FOR BLACK MEN
For the next 2 months I began to seek how I might serve the Lord again. My thoughts immediately rushed to apply for as many ministry jobs that I could find online. I had graduated from Westminster Seminary - the top Religious school in the country. How hard could it be to find another job? But after a two-month search, each door was closed. This is when I began to look deeper into myself and my experience. My heart had a passion for Black Men like myself. Black men whom my last church did not want. Black men that the evangelical church looked past or avoided all together. And my study and research showed me that Black men were both the least reached for Christ in America and also the most disenchanted with the church. I prayerfully considered how I might bridge the gap between these 2 gulfs. This is when I decided to launch Church for Black Men.
OBJECTIONS TO CHURCH FOR BLACK MEN
Some people who have heard the vision have commented that the Gospel of Jesus does not divide, but unites. But even Scripture itself testifies that God uses division for his divine purpose. (1st Corinthians 11:19) There also exists a language barrier between Black men in America and the church. For someone who has wondered why so few Black men attend church, seek the truths of Christianity, or apply Biblical answers to their life - I have come to this conclusion: the American church, by in large, does not speak the language of Black men. It would be foolish to expect Korean speakers who could not understand English to attend an English speaking church when they can't understand a word that is being said. In a similar way, it would be just as foolish to expect most Black men to attend churches in which our language is not being spoken. And what is that language: Black suffering.
It is mainly because of this language barrier that I have decided to devote 2018 to travel the country to launch house churches across America for Black men and their families. I do this with no financial backing, no mission organization, or any ecclesiastical endorsement. I do this by faith and faith alone.
THE GOSPEL FOR BLACK MEN
It is my hope to establish House Churches where Black men can learn the Gospel in our language. This Gospel is so much more vibrant and beautiful than simply telling us that we are sinners. The Gospel is telling us that we are Kings. (Revelation 1:6) Black men were chosen by God to be Kings in the Lord Jesus Christ before the world ever began. And as a foreshadow of the eternal kingship we were chosen for, Black men were Kings in their own nations before they were exploited, stolen, and scattered to other nations as slaves. (Acts 17:26) They became slaves not only to other nations, including America, but slaves to Black suffering.
But it was this very suffering, whether through slavery or subjection, incarceration or degradation, racial profiling or isolation, that was to fulfill God's plan in making us worthy of the crowns that he chose us for. (2nd Thessalonians 1:5) And it is when we are able to face the depths of our suffering - and find in our sufferings the true King - a wounded, whipped, and crucified Christ, that like this Christ, we shall be raised from the death this world is guaranteed to give, and rule and reign with Christ...now and forevermore. It will be then and only then that we can experience true reconciliation and fellowship with all races, including those races that have oppressed us.
This is what I hope Church For Black Men will communicate. And in this communication it is my prayer and hope that a community of Black Kings will be formed. Kings that are so grateful for the suffering of the true King, that we will place our crowns at his feet...to the Glory of God. (Revelation 7:9)