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Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2023 7:00 pm

Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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February 3, 2023 7:00 pm

Stu interviews both authors of "Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships" Dr. Gary Chapman and Clarence Shuler.


Hey, this is Mike Zwick from If Not For God Podcast, our show.

Stories of hopelessness turned into hope. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just seconds. Enjoy it.

Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Who's got it right? Two of my friends who I hold in high regard.

Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Claret Shuler. I'm with them right now. They've written a brand new book called Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships. And the subtitle I really like, How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides One Relationship at a Time. And I just love, this is such an encouraging book.

I'm gonna encourage everyone to get it. But Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, forever you've been pastor, right here at Calvary Baptist Church, you know, over the years in marriage and counseling, associate pastor, interim pastor. Dr. Chapman, will you just kind of set this up and introduce this fine young man right here?

Because you guys met years ago and that friendship has blossomed into an amazing book. Yeah, Claret Shuler and I met when he was 14 years old. And this was in 1968, before many of your listeners were born, okay? And racial tensions in Winston-Salem, where we live, were really stuff. I remember the National Guard was out on the streets, you know, Ku Klux Klan was marching downtown until the Black Panthers got there. I mean, a lot of tension in those days. And school integration was just taking place. And I was a youth pastor at a local church here.

And we had a gymnasium where every Tuesday night we had young people come. And one night, Clarence Shuler, who's black, and another friend of his, Russell, who's black, walked in to 100 white faces. And these two black faces walked in. And that was the first time I ever met him. His name is Clarence Shuler.

We've been friends now for almost 55 years. So you and your buddy were looking for a good run, Clarence. And little did you know, you'd walk into this. What was going through your mind when this bespectaled man came up and started leading Bible study afterward? Well, you know, the thing when Russell and I got there, Russell knew some of the girls who'd invited him. And I was there to play basketball and also be his protection, because back then, as a black person, you never went into a white setting by yourself. So I was his bodyguard.

But once we got there, I went to the court. He talked to the girls. And when he came over and spoke to me and introduced himself to me, I was kind of surprised but also glad, because he made me feel comfortable. Because a lot of other adults who were there were very nervous about the fact that Russell and I were there. So when he came and spoke and said, hey, I'm Gary Chapman.

I'm the youth pastor. I'm glad you're here. That was huge.

And I thought I'd be okay that night. Yeah. So some real neat doors open to the point where you talk about in the book, and this is what I love about this book. This book is real.

I mean, you guys don't, you know, hold anything back. Here you're walking four miles on a Saturday to his porch to get in the Bible study, getting some weird wonky looks from his neighbor. Like, what is this black man doing? Young man coming to your house.

What is going on here? And you felt really safe on your side of the tracks, but when you cross over that coliseum, you know, train tracks there, you're like, wait a second. Am I going to make it all the way to Dr. Chapman's house? But what was that like? I mean, as a black man growing up in that racial tension? Because I think sometimes, yes, we need to come together.

Yes, we need to listen to everything you guys say in this book about how Jesus Christ brings together all races, you know, all ethnicities under the blood of Christ. But yes, there's some pain, and there's some people that really have been hated and mistreated, and you felt a lot of that oppression growing up. Well, you did. I mean, you saw your dad rejected. You had to sit in the back of the bus if you got on a white bus because there were two bus systems here, one black, one white. You had to sit in the balcony, you know, better seats.

You didn't have a choice. And so that was a big concern. But when I crossed the railroad tracks and people would throw bottles and call me names to go to his house, a couple of things were important. One, here's a grown man spending time with me.

And because we were poor, my dad was working two or three jobs, so we didn't really hang out. And then there was also this thing to call the gospel. People said, why did you keep going? So I think God was calling me, and I couldn't get enough of God. And Gary was a primary vessel that my little Gideon Bible that I was reading that kept me going.

And then when you're 14, you still think you're invincible. But there was also the excitement of going to a place that was taboo and surviving. There was something exciting about that as well. So there was a lot of things going on at that time. Dr. Chapman, as a pastor, you know, a lot of folks don't know about the connection between Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. And that Billy Graham said, I'm going to put him on the stage.

I don't care what anyone says. And he stood up against segregation, and he really took a stand, got a lot of heat for it. Well, here you are, a white pastor in the south.

It's the 60s, the 70s, when there's all this racial tension. What was it like for you from your perspective? You meet this young, you know, good-looking, athletic, I mean, he could almost dunk basketball player. I know he had serious game. He had a serious jumper, though.

I know that. But what was it like for you from your side of the perspective, Dr. Chapman? Because maybe some of the other white pastors, like, what are you doing with this guy, you know?

How dare you cross those lines? Yeah, well, you know, I had had the experience my second summer that I was at Moody Bible Institute of working one summer in an all-black youth camp. I was the only white counselor in the whole camp. So I'd had that exposure as a background, you know, and I'd always been taught by my family growing up, you know, all humans are made in God's image.

We're all equal in God's sight. And that summer kind of gave me a feel for the reality, you know, of the black community. And so it wasn't totally new to me, you know, in that sense. But I also knew how other people felt about, you know, blacks and whites and that sort of thing.

So it wasn't a big struggle for me. It was just, you know, I knew things were changing. I knew, I was glad to see that things were changing. And when they came into our world, my world, you know, I wanted to make them feel welcome. And I said that night after the first meeting was over, I said, hey, guys, we're here every Tuesday night, and you guys are always welcome.

And so they started coming. And Clarence came for two years before we went on a retreat together one weekend. And he accepted Christ on that retreat. And then we really started spending time together because you lead somebody to Christ, you don't drop them, you don't spend time with them so that they can be discipled and grow in their faith in Christ. So Clarence, here we are, some, you know, decades later, 40, maybe almost 50 years later, I mean, I can't, time is flying like crazy. And you are co-author of a book with a New York Times bestselling author, The Five Love Languages, which hasn't done too doggone bad, Dr. Gary Chapman.

Did you ever think, showing up at a gym that day, that you would be in a church at this level, now you're preaching, you're ministering to people, you spoke to, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people came out to hear you guys, amazing thing you did last night at our home church, Calvary Baptist, just spectacular. And this book, what's your takeaway? Clarence, what do you want people to get out of this life-changing cross-cultural friendships book that you wrote?

This is a passion of yours. Well, we want to alleviate some of the fear that some Christians have, that the cross-cultural relationship, they can't do it, our people aren't worth it. And some of the fear is what might happen. And so what we do in the book, we use the Samaritan woman and how Jesus encountered that, how you can actually do the cross-cultural thing, but there's some risk involved. But then we also want to point them to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where they have the different gifts, that's diversity and unity simultaneously. And there's an interdependency that we need each other. And I really believe that interdependency creates a unity that glorifies God.

And so if the body of Christ would do that, then I think the racial tension in America would be lessened, but we need to lead out on that. But I think a lot of times we as Christians are not doing it, but that's the takeaway, that it's doable, it can happen, and we've given you the tools from the Bible that can make it happen. Dr. Chapman, who would have thought that you'd be, again, co-authoring with this guy, you know, decades ago, here you are sitting here, what would you say to your younger self, you know, about all this and what in the world goes, it must be just some kind of beautiful thought now, how God's brought all this together? Well, you know, Stu, looking back on my life, I am fully aware that I didn't plan it. It was planned by God.

You know, the Bible does say, man makes his plans, but God directs his steps. And I never dreamed I'd even be an author in those early years of my life, you know, and I started writing because it was an overflow, you know, counseling people and learning things and thinking, you know, if I could put it in a book, maybe I could help more people than I could see in my office. And so that's how I started writing.

And of course, as Clarence and our friendship developed, and he began writing books, and he's written about 10 or 11 books now himself. And so one day we talked about, why don't we write a book together for young men? There's another book we wrote earlier, you know, called Choose Greatness, 11 Wise Decisions that Brave Young Men Make.

And because we realized we were losing far too many young men before they get to be 18, because they made poor decisions in those years. And so, and we teamed up on that one. And, and we hope God's going to use that to help a lot of young men make wise decisions. And so now this far down the road, we say, well, maybe we ought to write a book together, Clarence kind of brought it up. And so we need to write a book together on cross cultural friendships. And so that's how it all happened. Wow. A solution to the sin of racism, but a real deeper address of what's going on. Now, when we come back, I'm gonna take a quick break. And if ever if you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm Stu Epperson, I'm sitting between two heavyweights here, Dr. Gary Chab and Dr. Clarence Shuler.

They've written a book, Life Changing Cross Cultural Friendships. I want to get a little bit into missiology when we come back because you brought it up with a Samaritan woman. I mean, how do you reach anyone for Christ if you don't go to someone who's different, right? We're all different in some way.

And then I want to get, I want to do a quick snap by snap of each of the chapters just real quick. When we come back on Truth Talk, don't touch that dial. You're listening to the Truth Network and Bridging the racial divide. How do we bring healing? Do we have unity just for the sake of unity? What about the Lord Jesus Christ? Why did He even come if we can't get together and get along and be one in Christ and more importantly, reach our world with the Gospel? I'm Stu Epperson.

This is Truth Talk. And I'm with Dr. Clarence Shuler, Dr. Gary Chaben and their brand new book, Life Changing Cross Cultural Friendships, subtitle, How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides One Relationship at a Time. You guys, I'm just totally blessed by your testimony. Now, fun fact, what brought me to this church, interestingly enough, was a youth pastor who loved basketball. So you and I kind of got connected to the people from this church the same way, just a little bit, maybe a decade or so apart, you know.

Mike McKee, remember? And there's something about, and Dr. Chaben, how can a basketball court be, I mean, I sweat, bleed, and there is like a bond there on the court, and yet the church is so, you know, ethnically separated and segregated. How could that be? Well, you know, I think we tend to be drawn together to people that do things that we like to do. So if basketball players, you know, like to play basketball, then they're not thinking so much about black, white, what color we are.

We're just going to play basketball. But even in that setting, sometimes they don't go on to build friendships. They have a good time while they're playing ball, and they may encourage each other and all, but then they don't necessarily do anything else together. So it's really not a friendship, or it's a friendship on a level, you know. We call that situational friendship. In this situation, playing basketball, we're friends, but it doesn't go beyond that.

So I think it's good for it to start anywhere that you have a common interest in somebody. That's where you often meet people of a different race or culture. Well, you know, Clarence, you and I had a, I became, I actually fell in love with black people through basketball.

Like they were part and parcel my whole life. Like, in fact, a bunch of my baller friends came to this church, which is a more over, you know, more white church. I hate the idea of black and white churches. Okay, let's just get that out the door.

I mean, I don't like that, but it kind of is what it is. We know heaven's gonna look a lot different than the church looks today, but they came to this predominantly white church to play ball. Like, we were buds. We were like, you know, we would die for each other. We were tight, and so, but they found the Lord through that, because someone reached out and discipled me and Joe John and Mark Sinner and all our baller guys and Jeff Watson, you know, that whole crowd of ballers, and you remember these guys, Clarence, and so, but you had a similar, I mean, you come to play basketball. You came with your buddy. You walk into a church to play ball, and little did you know that you'd be diving deep into God's Word and writing books about it later on.

What's up with that? Well, you know, it's just, you never know what God's got going, and so, and he didn't take things away from us. He gives it to us more than we can ever imagine, and so, one reason I didn't want to become a Christian, because I thought he would take basketball away from me, but what he actually did, he gave it to me, so I traveled the globe playing basketball and sharing the gospel with some great basketball players. I mean, the late John Wooden saw us play, and he thought our sports ambassador team could beat his UCLA Bruins, which had John Walton, so it's really neat to experience that, but the cool thing, we were going to Africa and to Europe and sharing Christ, and people were coming to Christ because they see a black and white guy together, and some Muslims said, how could you two guys be brothers?

And I said, well, because of Jesus Christ. They spent all night in our room as we talked about Jesus, left, came back the next day, accepted Christ. Their parents tried to kill him, and they both left home, but kept praying for their parents to come to the Lord, and so, I mean, it didn't get any better than that. You know, here are two guys coming to Christ, have to make an immediate decision about their family, and God lets you sit on that, but it comes from the fact that he sees a white and black guy together, and we're brothers because of Jesus Christ, so that's incredible, so it's just amazing, so I love that, and then to know this guy over here who's been such a rock in my life, especially since my dad died. My dad died when he was 20 years old, and so when I was 20, and so to have him come in, it changed everything. Wow. Well, I had to read this book because of my love for both of you men, okay, and the impact you've had on my life. I got a million on the book stand I got to read, just like you do, just like you guys do, you know, and I'm supposed to be writing some stuff too, but the page turning really happened when I saw basketball, God's favorite sport.

I mean, why do you think? The ball's shaped just like the earth for Pete's sake, right, and it spins of all things, right, so we're not going to go too far there, offend all the other sports out there, but I'm just saying, I just love that connection, and I love the fact that maybe a decade or so apart, you and I were kind of being ministered to from different sets of, you know, the woods, but how God really used that legacy because the spirit you created, Dr. Chapman, with him to reach out and love and embrace him instead of saying, hey, you go to the gym where your kind of people play. How horrible is that?

Just how horrible is that? Instead, you said, hey, come on in, man. Let's eat. Let's hang out. Let's get in the word, and look how God used that to change destinies in the same way the Lord just broke those walls down, you know, but this has been helpful for me to remind me of that deeper now, so what I'd love to do is go through each chapter.

There's nine of them. This is the book, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships. I have it in my hand. I'm sitting with Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Clarence Schuler. They've written this together, and I love the word friendship. Oh, my, and that comes up in the first couple chapters, so what I'd love to do is say the name of the chapter, and I'll start with you, Clarence. Just give me a sentence of like what, you don't want to give the whole thing away, but of what maybe people or what was deep on your heart as you kind of got into this chapter, and it's neat that your name is in parentheses when you're speaking. Your name is in, you know, parentheses when you're speaking, so it's kind of neat how you, you know, people can tell who's talking, and it's neat to see both your perspectives, so let's start with the first chapter, chapter one, an unexpected friendship.

Go. Well, he was white. I was somebody coming to Black Panther because I saw how my parents or my dad was treated in particular, so I never had intentions to have a lifelong relationship with with a white guy.

Okay, Dr. Chapman. I think the first night we met, neither one of us ever dreamed that we would be lifelong friends. It was just, I was being courteous to him, treating him like he was a friend, even though I just met him, so it's amazing when you just start at some point and then let God take it from there.

I love it. Okay, chapter two, different levels of friendship. Well, you know, like you play sports and you have friends there, but sometimes you start playing a sport, that person ceases to be a friend, so they can be really close or just people at work, so there are different levels of friendship.

Okay, Doc. Yeah, I think our friendship, really, after a little while when he became a Christian, it was kind of, it started as a discipleship friendship, you know. I was discipling him or mentoring him, and everybody got much deeper than that.

Okay, chapter three, friendship begins with courtesy and patience. Well, he came onto the court. I was new. I was a stranger.

I was really checking my bearings to know if I was safe or not. He introduced himself, said, hey, I'm glad you're here. I go, whew, and he says, hey, let's play ball. Yeah, you know, the word courtesy comes from two Greek words. One means friend and one means mind, so it's to be friendly minded, so treat a person that you encounter like you would treat a friend, and that's essentially what I was doing that night.

I love it. Chapter four, Clarence Shuler, friends love each other. Well, love is an action, is not a feeling, and so is commitment involved, and so that even when we may have conflict, we are able to work through that, so it's really important. So it's our actions, how we treat each other, that influence our feelings, so it's more than a feeling.

Dr. Chapman. Jesus said we're to love others like he loved us. That's pretty big, and so as you become a friend, you have an attitude of love.

I want to try to enrich the lives of the people that I meet, and if you become friends, that's what you're both doing, enriching each other's lives. Okay, chapter five, friends apologize and forgive each other. Well, we make mistakes. Nobody's perfect, and in cross-cultural relationships, you can even make more mistakes because you don't always know the other person's culture or as well that person, so we have to say, hey, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that, and the friendship is more important than being right or wrong.

Dr. Chapman. Yeah, I think any long-term friendship will have to involve apologizing because none of us are perfect, but if we apologize and we forgive each other, the relationship can go forward. Okay, chapter six, this will be a good one here. Friends are not colorblind. Well, the word colorblind for a lot of people makes them feel invisible, and so when people say that, they don't really know.

Sometimes they're making people feel offensive or offended by that whole term, and then the whole question is what color are they if we're colorblind. Okay, Dr. Chapman. Yeah, I think we want to celebrate the differences rather than say ignore the differences, you know, because every culture, every race, there's things to offer, you know, and we say we want to celebrate the differences. You mean well when you say it, but make sure you're not saying it to say I don't see you, right? I love it, and I love how you explain it. Folks, that chat, if you get this book for that chapter, it'll really help you love your neighbor like you talked about in chapter four.

Now, how about this chapter seven? Friends disagree agreeably. Well, two people are not identical and probably going to have conflict, and so we need to learn to agree disagreeably because here's the deal. The person's more important than the issues, and so and we need to communicate that, and that's how we grow.

Dr. Chapman. Yeah, I think we, if we're going to have conversations, we're going to disagree on some things, but if we hear the other person's perspective and where they're coming from, then we can say, you know, I can see that. I can see that. I wouldn't even thought of it that way. Here's the way I thought of it, you know, and now you're helping each other understand each other, right? Now, this book is co-authored, but I think Michael W. Smith may have triple authored this with you because chapter eight is friends are friends forever. I can hear that song buzzing in my head.

Go ahead, Dr. Shuler, your thoughts on that chapter. Well, that's the way it is. I mean, we're committed forever.

I mean, that's what Christians do, and he taught me that, that when you disciple someone, you become committed to that person forever, and so the people I disciple, I had that same commitment to them. I like that. Dr. Chapman. Yeah, you know, it's interesting that last night, Clarence and I was sitting around with my wife talking, and somehow she brought up the whole thing of our death, you know, and she said, as Clarence, if he got his funeral plans written out, but we ended up, and Clarence said, well, if Gary's still living, he's going to leave my funeral, and I said, well, I got you to leave my funeral if I find that first. It's a toss-up. I don't want to get in the middle of this, guys. I'm sorry.

Listen, I'm way out of my pay grade here. I can't go any deeper here. Chapter nine really is the closing thought, and I love this question, and we'll wrap up the interview with this question, and then maybe you can put a little bow on the top. We talked, we opened the segment by teasing it as a missiological point, okay, so like this man to my right, Clarence, Dr. Chapman, he needed Jesus, just like you needed Christ, and I needed Christ, and God used you to reach him. Now, look at the thousands of millions he's reached through basketball, through writing, through parenting, through his struggles, through media and all that.

Just amazing. And so there's a whole world out there that's different from us. We are not like most of the world, for Pete's sake. Even in America, we think, well, we're different, Clarence, you and me. Well, let's just go to another country, you know, that are completely different, and they maybe look like me, but they ain't like me at all.

So, but they need Jesus, and like we keep fighting each other, for Pete's sake, and yet, you know, while the world goes to hell. So close us with a thought on that, but here's the final question. Will you accept our cross-cultural friendship challenge? Answer that, and then tie it into missions as we go. Well, if we, we're told to make disciples of all nations, if we in America were making cross-culture friends with everyone who's different in America, we wouldn't have the racial tension that we have here in America. Wow, Dr. Chapman. Yeah, the question we're asking in this book is, what if every Christian had at least one really close personal friend of a different race or culture?

I believe God would not only use it to bring people into the kingdom, you know, as we share our spiritual lives with each other, but it would also give us a deep sense of appreciation for each other, and realize we're here to complement each other, work together as a team to reach the world for Christ. Wow, I love that. This is, this goes so much deeper than just a service. Hey, how you doing? Good to see you.

What's up, bro? This goes into, hey, how am I going to help you grow closer to Jesus? Oh, wait a second. You are closer to Jesus than me. Hallelujah. Then you can disciple me. Yes.

Oh, finally, I found that guy to be my Jedi Meister. Hallelujah. Thank you, Clarence. Your final word in how people can get this book, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, and how they can make a difference in their life.

How can folks find this out? Well, I encourage people to go to Amazon, just pick the book up, and then find a friend. You know, buy a book for them or whatever, and then walk through the book together and grow together and see what God does. Praise the Lord. Thank you guys for being on. Dr. Chapman, your closing thought to everybody. I would share, if there are any pastors listening, if you and your staff would work through this book together and then begin to have small groups in your church working through this book, we will encourage people to actually get involved in making friendships across cultural lines. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-03 20:34:08 / 2023-02-03 20:45:42 / 12

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