“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” Ephesians 2:13-14
In light of the recent news, I’ve been thinking back over my interactions with people from different backgrounds during my life of over six decades. I grew up in rural Midwest America and had all white classmates in my public elementary school. When I entered junior high, a tall black guy sat in front of me in all my college prep classes named Nate. He was a fun laid-back basketball star. We helped each other with difficult homework assignments and I cheered for him during his games. At our 25th high school reunion, Nate and I hugged and he introduced me to his lovely wife and told me about his six children. He became a successful physician and was excited to hear about my career as a Nurse Practitioner.
Over 50,000 students attended my university so I made friends with students from all over the world. I remember leading Cherie, a black girl to the Lord in my dorm at 3 a.m. Harry, another black friend in the campus Bible class, became a world-class medical researcher with two doctorates. We corresponded for several years after he entered Yale University. With delight, he told me about a Bible class he joined with 25 fellow medical students. I had the joy of teaching a Bible class to several Korean doctoral students and their wives. I hired Carlos, a graduate student from Spain to teach me Spanish. He helped me prepare a devotional to teach ladies in northern Chile who I met a couple months later.
In my first nursing job in an inner-city hospital, 90% of the employees and patients were black. During the nursing shortage, they hired nurses from all over the world. We all got along and were kind to one another and helped each other. I treated all my patients with the same compassion and expertise and prayed for them no matter their skin color. I started a Bible class with one of my black patients after she returned home at her request.
A black mother asked me to teach a Bible class to teen girls in her home in the inner city. An equal number of black and white girls attended who became best friends and enjoyed studying, singing hymns, and memorizing verses together. I fondly remember singing at the start of every class, “New life in Christ, abundant and free, what glories shine, what joys are mine, what wondrous blessings I see! My past with its sin, the searching and strife, forever gone, there’s a bright new dawn, for in Christ I have found new life.” (John Peterson)
In graduate school, when I was desperate to find a practice for my clinical rotation, my black classmate, Sandy, said, “Pam, my uncle is an internal medicine physician and said he would mentor you.” I met with Dr. K, a black man from Costa Rica who was fluent in Spanish. He kindly agreed to precept me for the entire semester and was one of the best teachers I ever had. He was also a godly Christian and often prayed with his patients. Most days, I was the only white person in the office. After the patients became accustomed to me, they warmly greeted me on repeat visits. One of my black friends from church came to this practice for his annual flu shot which I gave him. Afterward, he grinned and said, “Pam, that was the most painless flu shot of my life.”
One of my favorite bosses was a Hindu physician from India. Two other excellent physician supervisors were Jewish. During a 6-day winter power outage in New England several years ago, a Muslim doctor at work who had heat in her apartment was the first to offer me a place to sleep. One of my best friends is from China. All she was exposed to was atheism. She now calls me her spiritual mom because I was one of the first to teach her the Bible and tell her about Jesus Christ. She received her doctorate in neurobiology here in the USA.
The great divide in Jesus’ day was between Jew and Gentile. But they all became citizens of heaven after they received Christ as their personal Savior. Christ is the only source of true eternal peace.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19
Dear Reader, God blessed me in reading Ephesians 2 today. I hope you will do the same and thank Him for His wonderful peace.