Upon leaving the coast of South Africa my heart was full to overflowing. I wept many tears and cried everyday in Africa.
The tears I cried were an expression of Christ’s heart for a people that has been oppressed, forsaken and forgotten for hundreds of years. This people is all around the world, identified as the African diaspora. His heart deeply cares for her wounding and neediness.
I’ve been to Kenya twice and this was my third trip to the continent of Africa. But this particular experience was so deep and rich for me.
It is even more intensified as I am in the middle of in depth research of the history of America’s national racial wounding. Going back to Africa this time meant more to me than ever before; I soon would realize I was crying tears for an entire people group.
I was in pain over the needs I knew the African American community had and how we were suffering due to generations of mistreatment. Sure we can forgive and have forgiven much, yet there is oftentimes a lack of understanding of the need for comforting the pain we have experienced.
This occurs as we weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
I sat with hundreds then with a small group of college aged young adults ready to approach life. They were at a crossroads without much, no parents, these children were orphans now become adults.
What would they do next? How would they become successful leaders in their nation? How would they regain the control of their economy?
Understanding the history of Africa is vital. Understanding the history of Africa is healing. Understanding the history of Africa is to know the missing pieces of the black community.
And I picked up a few pieces to that lost puzzle, but it was a painful experience.
One specific moment really grabbed my heart and opened my eyes to reality. I sat in a small room with these recent high school graduates as they shared their viewpoint of GOD.
We split into small groups sharing inspiring stories and helping them move forward in finding purpose (akin to what most young adults their age need).
But as we began to share the African American storyline their eyes lit with interest. This was foreign information; the shock and deep concern displayed on their young faces gripped my heart and wrung it out until the tears later escaped my eyes.
They had never heard of a people who were considered and treated as less than humans. It was heartbreaking to find our distant cousins and tell our story.
Knowing them was like a mirror, we could more clearly see ourselves. We could see what has been taken from us, in a way, unknowingly. We were able to see our blessings in America, yet see the little treasures that had been stripped from our identity:
We are just now approaching the age of African American natural hair care discoveries. We are indulging in shea butter, argan oil, twist outs, coconut oil and lots of hair moisture. For years, we have had to ReLearn the Basics because we were in survival mode.
How do you focus on hair care, oral tradition, body care and the like when you are traumatized by the rape of a loved one you cannot help, the violent beating of a son you cannot stop, the ripping of a daughter from your very hands, the laws that dehumanize and separate you from the remainder of this foreign land or the covert prejudice that surrounds you in the workplace?
As we heal, we must go back. There are stories, information that has been casually and naturally passed down from generation to generation in Africa. It may or may not even be recognized as especially significant until you go and see the differences with your own eyes.
For me it was a different experience. It was glaringly different than the white Americans who traveled with me.
And I was marked.
I was marked with a burden, a blessing, a deep longing to see use healed. Self discovery gripped my heart as I longed to bring back the lost treasures engulfed by the Middle Passage.
And this provided HOPE.
The songs of these young adults, the strength I felt encouraged me. I thought of the strength I have seen many times in the African American Episcopal, Baptists and other black congregations. The power that only a slave spiritual brings as you hear it sung was identical to the power I felt behind these songs.
The force I felt when only a gospel song is sung was the same force I felt behind these songs.
The strength behind a beat a staccato like war sounds was the same strength I felt behind these songs.
At that moment, we were one.
They were not African and I was not African American. There was a connection beyond our time that was connected through the fact that we had the same ancestors. And I was experiencing what I would call HOME.
I felt a sense of belonging that I have yet to feel in the states.
While all the while I knew I was American to the core.
This connection…will be valued forever and the identity I have experienced will heal many as together we discover all the MISSING PIECES it is now to time to collect. It is time to ReGather.
And through this journey. We will now heal.