by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2012
I take my seat on the concrete playground next to a group of Guatemalan children who are coloring in their Jesús en Mi Corazon (Jesus in My Heart) coloring book during VBS activity time. Suddenly, a little girl taps my arm and points to the paper in front of her. She asks me something in Spanish. Her eyes stare at me questioningly but I do not understand what she needs from me. Her words do not match any of the basic Spanish phrases I memorized for this mission trip. I catch our team leader’s attention and inquire what the girl is seeking from me. “She wants a brown crayon,” the leader translates.
Oh, yes, that makes perfect sense! The little girl wants to fill in the faces on her page with the same skin tone as her own. I rummage through the box in front of me but I am unable to find that particular color. I yell out to my teammates to see if they have any brown crayons but the quest is unsuccessful. My thoughts dart back to my high school art class. What two colors mixed together make brown? My memory fails me. Defeated and frustrated, I raise my hands up and shake my head pantomiming “no” in the child’s direction.
“The LORD opens the eyes of the blind…that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (Psalm 146:8a; John 9:39b NKJV) God used this occasion to expose my tinted lenses of political correctness. While my effort of looking at people’s hearts, as the Lord does, rather than their appearance (1 Samuel 16:7) is noble, I was dishonoring the nationals by not acknowledging their ethnic beauty. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made by Him (Psalm 139:14), and Jesus embraced this diversity−“…with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9b-10 NIV)
From now on, I choose to not be colorblind. Instead I will appreciate the whole person and show respect by having resources available, whether it’s the appropriate color of crayon or cultural puppet, in the nation I am ministering. I will celebrate their colorful uniqueness, talk to them about Jesus, and one day in anticipation, stand side by side with them before the throne (Revelation 7:9) as a beautiful mosaic painted by God.
KESHER TIP (connection): Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say
“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:2 NKJV) Sometimes associating colors with facts can cause misunderstanding. For instance, when using evangelism tools in certain cultures, referencing “black is for sin” maybe interpreted as “black people” are sinful. A better way to express the meaning is saying that black reminds us of darkness; then expand upon characteristics of being separated from fellowship with God in that context. Substituting a navy bead for the black one in a gospel bracelet or necklace may help to differentiate the concept.