[photo by Vivian Maier]
As I ride through Rainier Valley on a rainy mid-January afternoon, I begin to praise God. It’s Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and this neighborhood is the fruit of his labor. Every bus stop is filled with multiple nationalities. Local stores and companies are owned by people of many races. There are way more interracial couples than racial purists are comfortable with. Statistically speaking, no one is a minority in this area. This is the realization of his dream. I am personally grateful for the passion and integrity of Dr. King, not just being a black man with more rights and equality, but also the freedoms that we may take for granted day to day. I can befriend whites and blacks alike. Also because of his efforts, I was actually able to choose a wife based not on the color of her skin, but the content of her character. It really hits home for me because I realize my beautiful children may not even exist if it weren’t for him and those who walked alongside him in the fight for equality.
All Sinners Are Created Equal
As I continue to drive down Rainier Avenue, I’m seeing that sin never racially discriminated anyone. I see black men along with white men holding signs begging for money. I see abandoned and run-down homes. I see black, Asian, white, East Indian, and African women being unloved by their husbands. I see children of all races rebelling against authority. I see broken families in every color. So I realize something else: racial equality is great, but we’ve not yet overcome. Was this Dr. King’s dream? That blacks would suffer from the effects of sin along with white people? People of diverse races, cultures, religions and economic status all have something in common because we are created equal, we are all sinners and feel the effects of a fallen world.
"There are many people throughout black history who have been deemed as heroes … but none of them has conquered sin and death. We still need a Hero. His name is Jesus."
I’m extremely grateful that I can enjoy freedoms that my ancestors didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy. I’m grateful that God used Dr. King in such a way to fight to give blacks the civil rights that the human race should enjoy as people. But I also acknowledge that this new-found freedom is still limited at best. We haven’t escaped the poverty of sin. There are many people throughout black history who have been deemed as heroes in the eyes of the black race, but none of them has conquered sin and death. None of them has been able to release us from the poverty of the soul that leads us to destroy ourselves. We still need a Hero. His name is Jesus.
Free To Be On Mission
While civil liberties are much appreciated by blacks everywhere and the efforts of many blacks are celebrated and applauded, we must realize that racial equality has not saved us from our troubles or cleansed us from sin. Our civil liberties won’t hold up when we stand before God. It’s been a good day in Rainier Valley. I appreciate the diversity here. I also am reminded of the need for Jesus and for the Gospel to penetrate the hearts of the residents here. And because of Dr. King’s efforts, I’m free to live freely on mission for Jesus. Willie Will is a staff member at Mars Hill Downtown Seattle (on whose blog this post originally appeared) and he leads the Rainier Valley Mission. For more, check out his albums on iTunes or Amazon.