DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Walk A Mile In Other’s Shoes

Written by: on June 23, 2017

I have to admit, I was never really familiar with apartheid.  Sure, I had heard the word and even heard about Nelson Mandela, but it was something far in my rearview mirror.  I am not sure why.  It is probably the closest thing to Nazis Germany and the Holocaust that my generation has seen.  Maybe it is due to distance that it was never on my radar.  Perhaps, it is a lack of understanding of South African history that I did not care about apartheid.  Whatever it was, I can tell you it is not there any longer.

SUMMARY

After reading and pondering the difficult story by Mark Mathabane’s, The Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, it is hard to ignore the evil that happened to South Africa’s blacks.  Mathabane takes his readers on his epic journey and does his best to help the reader visualize the pain, fear and even forgiveness he experienced in his life.  Mathabane allows the reader to walk a mile in his shoes which is at times painful and horrifying but also enlightening.

ANALYSIS

Many Americans are insulated from the pain experienced around the world.  We are oblivious to the suffering that happens outside of our boarders. Now, I believe Americans are compassionate and kind, but we are in many ways ignorant from a global perspective. This ignorance goes on to shape our politics.  Because we cannot “walk a mile” in the shoes of the suffering, we come up with empty platitudes and our compassion is snuffed out.  Mathabane confronts this ignorance.  His work is radically important because it shines a light on the pain and hatred that many within the world experience outside of the insulated American experience.  Because of Mathabane’s work and many other works we have read on this journey, it is shaped me as a pastor.  I believe that part of my role in leading my church is to force them to come face to face with this suffering.  I do not do this because I think those in my congregation are heartless.  Quite the contrary, I do it because I believe that they have the means to change the world, but the change can only come through systematic knowledge.  Now, this shift in me did not happen without the experiences within LGP 6.

CONCLUSION

Reading The Kaffir Boy is a microcosm of the past two years of the LGP program.  Throughout the last twenty-four months, I believe that God has reshaped my thinking.  My horizon has broadened because I no longer have a narrow perspective.  My world has been forever expanded and my thoughts have shifted due to this experience.  Every book has forced me to look at the world through a different lens. Every conversation or advance has made me look hard at my beliefs.  At times I did not like what I saw, but I believe this was part of God’s shaping process and he used LGP 6 to accomplish his will in my life.

About the Author

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Jason Kennedy

I am a pastor of a thriving church in Grapevine, Texas. With two little girls (5,8), and a wife that is a medical doctor (family practice), life is non-stop.

13 responses to “Walk A Mile In Other’s Shoes”

  1. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Jason,
    It was refreshing reading your blog. Thanks for honest answer, ” …was never really familiar with apartheid”. But I am sure you know about “Jim Crow”, which carry the same smell in the southern united states. Therefore, we have an injustice of our of own, right here at home. WHY?
    You , MENTION how Americans maybe ignorant from a global perspective, what about the racism issue happening in our own backdoor? Do you think Americans are ignorant of the problems within our borders?Of course, we could chat for years about it, just some food for thought.

    It has been a rewarding year for us, thanks for input the cohort’s lives, it was a great learning experience!
    Blessings and encouragement in writing your dissertation. Rose Maria

  2. Jason Kennedy says:

    Rose,
    Thanks for your response. I do know about Jim Crowe, but I must state that southern education (at least where I was raised) did not completely emphasize it.
    Here are my thoughts on your question on racism:

    – First, I think it is easy to say it is other people’s problem. For instance, it easy to say that there are race issues in Chicago or St Louis but ignore the racism in your own neighborhood. I do think that until it is around us immediately, we will largely ignore it.
    – Secondly, I think people are ignorant to people’s struggles and similarities. Let me use this as an example. When I was growing up, my parents had very few if any friends of different races. This was largely due to us growing up in a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood. I don’t think my parents were racist, they were just simply living in their suburban white enclave.
    They moved when I was 21. They moved to another suburb where they had more land. Their neighbors on both sides were African-Americans, and they are some of their best friends now (exchanging gifts etc). I think my parents realized once they lived next to people of different races, did life with them that they realized all people (for the most part) have similar goals. We all want to raise our kids to be healthy, we all struggle to make ends meet…etc. By doing life with people of other races, the stereotypes go away. The problem in America is still too many people go to their ethnic enclaves, churches, grocery stores, etc, so we never do life with one another. So, struggles, conflicts, racism et al can be ignored because it is not personal. What I love about Mathabane’s book is his story becomes intensely personal so it cannot be ignored.
    As a follower of Christ, I must figure out ways to continue to break down barriers so we are not ignorant. In my mind, ignorance is not an excuse. I hope this makes sense.

  3. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Jason, for the enlightenment on the subject, because it is an old wound that requires more than a bandage aid.

    I agree with you, we must all continue to break down the barriers and love our neighbors as ourselves.

    Hope to see you in Cape Town, if it is the Lord’s well. Rose Maria

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Jason:
    You mentioned that people in your congregation are not “heartless”, they are not exposed to the needs of those outside their own bandwidth.

    What are you doing to bring exposure to some of the plights that we have engaged in our DMin. journey? Our proximity may remove us from the pain of issues, but the reality is we do become responsible when we choose to turn our heads from the issue/s.

    Great job on responding.

    Phil

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Phil,
      Thanks. We do systematic things. First, we bring awareness of missional needs every month. So, I talk about the plight of the refugee or the pain of racism during these selected times. Secondly, I often talk about it in my messages. Thirdly, we offer monthly outreach opportunities to engage with people outside their sphere.
      Jason

  5. Jason,
    Thank you for this and your honesty regarding having your horizons expanded. I feel the exact same way. This is such a great program!
    Can’t wait to hang out in SA!

  6. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Jason,

    My maternal grandfather was from Atlanta, and was a flaming racist. My prejudice appears when I say, “My grandfather was from Georgia and was a racist,” which betrays my attitude that most “Southerners” are racist.

    I realize that my assumptions about southerners may be as unfair as people’s assumptions about race.

    What do you think? Am I a “Northern Racist/Classist” of a different stripe? Any help you can offer for my healing? This is actually a serious question.

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Mark,
      Good question. Thanks for your honesty. I think the first place you start is by acknowledging your stereotype which you are doing. Secondly, I think trying to understand the culture where people are raised is helpful. Remember, many people in the south that are in your generation were raised or even indoctrinated that racism was ok. So, these folks have a monumental mountain to climb. Thirdly, I do not believe many in the south are racist. I do believe they are uninformed and ignorant to people’s suffering, so it is difficult as well. I could probably have a further discussion on this, but it would probably be better to face to face or skype.
      Jason

      • mm Marc Andresen says:

        Thanks Jason – good answers.
        I wonder if we will be led in discussions of racism in S. A. I hope so.

        M

  7. Pablo Morales says:

    Jason,
    As you, I did not know much about Apartheid or South Africa. I knew the names, but I did not understand the concepts. This knowledge is transformative, because as you said, it moves us to want to help. We no longer have to imagine what is like to try to make it with $10 a month. Wow. Heartbreaking. In America, we have means, especially when we realize that as income goes, we as a nation are on the top 1% of the world. I believe that exposure is a good starting point to help our churches have compassion towards the needs of others. We must proclaim God’s heart for the orphan, the widow, and the displaced. We must be engaged. I know the Lord will use you to help your congregation develop a heart like God’s.

    I’ve enjoyed experiencing this journey with you. I appreciate your genuine heart and your desire to develop a relevant church ministry. The Lord will bless your efforts.

    Do you want to get together for breakfast again before our trip to South Africa?

    Pablo

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Pablo,
      I would love to get breakfast again. Let me know what works for you.
      One thing that I try to do with my congregation is to remind them that if they make 30,000 a year, they are the top 10% of wealth earners in the entire world. In other words, we have the means to help so many people. It is a tireless pursuit, but I am so glad to be a part of it. Blessings! Jason

  8. Claire Appiah says:

    Jason,
    You noted that, “Many Americans are insulated from the pain experienced around the world. We are oblivious of the suffering that happens outside of our borders.” But, for the most part, I believe that this is by choice because most of these people are too wrapped up in the vicissitudes of their own life circumstances to sincerely care about what others are experiencing. I’m glad to see the way LGP 6 has shaped and shifted your thinking. You are spot on in endeavoring to “break down barriers so we are not ignorant.” It all starts with a desire to be informative so that we can be transformative in the lives of the oppressed and needy.

    Jason, thanks for all your perspectives and sharing your personal growth experiences that have enhanced my understanding on certain key issues and given me much food for thought over the last two years. I’m looking forward to seeing you in South Africa.

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Claire,
      I totally agree with you. This is what I fight against all the time. I do my best to try to expose people to needs around the world. I try to wake them out of their self-interest to see a bigger picture. It is not easy, but I feel it is one of my roles as a pastor. If you read the writings of Paul, I believe he attempts to do the same things when he reminds the churches the suffering the brothers go through around the ancient world. Thanks Claire for your wisdom and insight. I hope you have a great summer and I will see you in Cape Town.
      Jason

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