This past week I read a book titled “While The World Watched” by Carolyn Maull McKinstry and Denise George. In the book, Mrs. McKinstry tells her story of growing up as an African American in the deep South during the 1950’s and 60’s. As a fifteen year old, she was in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963 when a bomb planted by racists exploded. She escaped death, but four other young girls, all friends of Carolyn, died in the blast. This church bombing was one of the main sparks that helped to ignite the Civil Rights movement of that era of American history.
Being just a young child in the 60’s and growing up in the Midwest, I was really unaware of what was happening in our nation during the turbulent events of those years. The farm I grew up on in my little corner of the world seemed to be pretty tranquil. McKinstry’s eyewitness account of how black people were treated in much of our country at that time, even by “church” people, was a sobering read for me. The battle to secure equal rights for every American, regardless of race, was a costly one for so many. Many gave their lives for the cause.
Early on in the book, McKinstry said something that I highlighted: “It seemed that what people learned at their churches on Sundays about unity and love they placed on the shelf during the remainder of the week” (p. 36). As difficult as it is for me to understand how people in general can treat another person with such hate and violence, it is even more baffling to me that many did it (and continue to do it) in the name of God. There are really only two scenarios that make it possible. Either the hate and violence was taught in such churches or the people ignored what they heard on Sunday as they lived from Monday through Saturday.
Lord, help me to live Your truth EVERY day of the week.
God loves you!