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Life-Changing Friendships | Clarence Shuler

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
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October 8, 2022 1:00 am

Life-Changing Friendships | Clarence Shuler

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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October 8, 2022 1:00 am

Do you want to help heal the racial divide? Does that seem like too big of a task? On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, you’ll hear the story of Clarence and Gary. They met a long time ago and struck up a friendship that has stood the test of time. They believe you heal the divide one relationship at a time. Hear about a life-changing friendship today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships: How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides, One Relationship at a Time by Dr. Gary Chapman and Clarence Shuler

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Learn more about the impact of Moody Radio and partner with us at,, or call 888-357-3667, 888-357-3667. And I think the goal is not uniformity, but unity, and that God brings people of all races together and tries to make them one in Christ as brothers and sisters, but He doesn't make them all the same. So, I think it's really important that we don't deny our differences.

In fact, we don't deny our God-given differences, but embrace that. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you want to help heal the racial divide in our country, choose friendship. Hear the real-life story of two men who have spent a lifetime in cross-cultural relationship. That's right, Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Clarence Shuler met a long time ago, and I've seen the pictures to prove it. Today, we'll talk about their practical and helpful book, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, how you can help heal racial divides, one relationship at a time.

You can find out more about that at Gary, other than your memoir, I think this is probably your most personal project. Would you agree with that? Well, I hadn't thought about it, to be honest with you, Chris, but yeah, I think it probably is, because Clarence and I, our lives have been so close together through the years, and we both in this book are revealing our journey. And, you know, I haven't written, you know, much about that through the years, but it's been very, very meaningful to me and to Clarence.

And so, yeah, it is a personal book. Well, let me introduce Dr. Shuler. He is president and CEO of Building Lasting Relationships. He's a counselor, speaker, author of such books as Winning the Race to Unity, Is Racial Reconciliation Really Working?, Keeping Your Wife Your Best Friend, and Single and Free to Be Me. He and his wife, Brenda, live in Colorado Springs.

They have three adult daughters. For more information, visit his website,, S-H-U-L-E-R, And our featured resource is Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships.

You can find out more at Well, Clarence, let me welcome you back to Building Relationships. Well, Gary, thanks for having me back.

Always fun to be with you. Let's start with the question of the racial divide in the country. As you study this, you look at it from your perspective. Where are we now in the whole racial situation in our country? Well, Gary, some things have improved, but I think that when I met you, it was different. There was intensity, there was dislike, and there was segregation. But I think today, there seems to be a hatred that's much more intense, and it's almost personal, even though people don't really know each other. I think with the George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, I've never seen so many black men really afraid in their lives, like I'm seeing today. So that's why I'm really excited about our book, so we can do some things to improve racial relations in America.

But I think it's more intense than it's ever been before, from my perspective. Let me jump in here, and I'm going to do this, since you've co-written this book, and go back to when you first met then. Gary, you first. Your friendship developed during a time when your community was navigating desegregation. What are your recollections, Gary? Well, Chris, those were days of great tension in our city. Both of us grew up in the same city in North Carolina, and the population really was about 50-50 black and white, but a lot of tensions. I remember waking up one morning and seeing the National Guard on the street corners outside my apartment where we lived, and Carol and I just moved to the city only a few months earlier. And there were marches downtown, the Ku Klux Klan marching downtown. Clarence sometimes says, yes, until the Black Panther showed up. But it was that kind of world. Integration had been taking place in the schools, it was in the process of all of that.

So, yeah, it was pretty tense. I met Clarence. I was serving as an associate pastor at a local church, and we had just built a new gymnasium. And on Tuesday nights, I was working with young people. So every Tuesday night, we would have 100 or so kids there, all of them white, because the church was basically a white church. Clarence and his friends showed up one night and walked in, you know, two black faces in the midst of 100 other white faces. And I noticed that some of my adult workers kind of looked at me and pointed as if to say, do you see that?

And I kind of raised my hand, you know, trying to say, it's okay, it's okay, you know. And I found out later that a couple of our young people had actually invited one of Clarence's friends to come to the meeting. And he had gotten Clarence to come with him. So that's where we first met.

And Clarence, maybe you can pick it up from there. What happened that night? Well, you know, even before we got there, my family had like a town hall meeting to determine if we could, as two black boys, could go to a white church, because it was still pretty dangerous.

And so they finally let us go. And once we crossed the railroad tracks to get to the church, people were throwing bottles and calling us names. And once we walked into the building, this brand new gym, my friend saw the girls that invited him, and he went to be, you know, talk to them. I didn't know anybody. I was really his bodyguard, because back then, as blacks, you never went to a white setting by yourself.

And I'm thinking about 100 kids here. I said, I don't know how we're gonna fight our way out of here. But then I went to the basketball court, and some of the adults were seemed to be nervous that I was there and giving me kind of funny looks and not so much a hatred, maybe just a fear or not sure. But there are also some that were friendly. I remember Carl Dresser, Gary. And then Gary came over to the basketball court, introduced himself, I think shook my hand and told me his name. And that's sort of just the way he did it, his mannerism made me feel safe and welcomed.

And so then I stopped worrying about things once I was there. So there is there about 10 years, then difference in your ages, Clarence? Yes, something like that.

I'm like, I'm like, let's see. Yeah, it's a little more than that. A little more than that. Yeah, maybe 14, maybe something like that. But, but yeah, I was probably I was probably 27.

Now I think about it. And you were okay. 14.

I was 14. Yes. Yeah.

So there you have it. So yeah, but you very much a Gary kind of a you have a position of leadership in the church. And Clarence is, is, you know, just coming there for the first time and wondering how he's gonna fight his way out of those 100 kids.

I like that. So, Clarence, just circle back then to the what was going on at the time, I'm interested that you said that it was that we have more hatred now than back then, when you were afraid to even walk into that church that that astounds me. Well, you know, the good thing about the South where we were was if people didn't like you that you knew it, you know, there was no guesswork and there are places you could go and place you couldn't go. And it's an unwritten rule that you do not in a lot of cities in the south, some in the north, the railroad tracks were the vision of neighborhoods.

And so our railroad track divided downtown from the black community and from the white community. And so, you know, when we went to the church, I wasn't, I was nervous. I think about doing anything. But yeah, it was a concern. But today, when people are actually shooting and doing stuff, and I guess seeing on video, that has gotten our attention.

And there are a lot of pro athletes who have spoken out about their concerns, make sure everybody has to talk. Like my parents gave me the talk before we went to the church and stuff like that. But it seems to be more intent. I think a lot of the racism when I was growing up, at the time when I met Gary, people didn't like each other, but it was kind of an ignorance because they didn't know each other.

But now with the politics and everything else, it just seems to be more intense and more people picking sides and more you are the enemy type deal. It's really kind of hard to articulate, I guess so. Yeah. No, I agree with that.

And Gary, why don't you, why don't you jump in there? Because social media is a part of that, too, isn't it? Well, it is because people say things on social media they would never say if they were in the presence of the person.

And, you know, it's like you can say anything and nobody's going to bother you. Of course, things now, people do bother you. And so sometimes there's civil war going on on the internet. It's just people are throwing out things and jabs at each other, you know, and sometimes it's particular individuals and sometimes it's just some people of another race or another culture.

So, yeah, it's a different thing. But I think all of us realize that we do have racial tensions in this country. And I think many Christians are saying to themselves, you know, but what can I do? You know, it all seems like such a big thing and a big factor and all the things and the theories that are being thrown around and that are kind of designed really to divide us.

And the question is, and the question is, what can I do as a Christian to help in the situation? And Clarence and I really believe, and this is why we wrote this book, we really believe that if every Christian in this country had at least one really close personal friend of a different race or culture, then it would change the climate. And every one of us can do that.

It's doable. Now, the reality is that when you really think about it and really get down to what friendship is, there's not a lot of cross-cultural, cross-racial friendships. We have a lot of acquaintances, you know, but the real friendships like Clarence and I have had through the years, it takes time, it takes effort, and it takes intentionality. And so we're hoping this book's going to stimulate the hearts and minds of Christians to talk about this, to maybe read the book in small study groups and that sort of thing, so that we can all encourage each other.

And it's not just a white issue or a black issue, Christians, I'm talking to Christians, whatever the race or culture. And so, you know, that's kind of where we are. And, you know, when I, on that night when Clarence first showed up at the gym, that night when it was all over, I just said, hey guys, we're here every Tuesday night and you guys are always welcome. And that was the first step. Now, Clarence took the first step by coming. I took the second step by inviting them to come back.

And so they became regular attenders. And so that's where our friendship began. We wouldn't even have thought of it as friendship in those early days.

It was just being friendly to each other, you know, and that's where friendship starts is by being friendly to the other person. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. He's the author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Find out more about that online at

You can also hear a past program, take an online assessment to figure out your love language or see our featured resource today, all at That resource is the book, Life Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides One Relationship at a Time. Dr. Clarence Schuler is our guest. He's a speaker, author, president and CEO of Building Lasting Relationships.

You can find out more about him and our featured resource at I want to go back to something you said before the break, Gary, and it was that Clarence took the first step and then you invited him back. That was the second step. Actually, the step that instigated this all is somebody invited him. Somebody of another race invited him, so this shows exactly what you're talking about, that we can work together to foster these friendships. Now, at the time when you met Clarence, you had no idea that you'd have this decades-long friendship with him, did you? No, it never crossed my mind that we would have a life-long friendship, but I was simply doing what I believe the Bible teaches, and that is be friendly to people. The Scriptures say, he who would have friends must show himself friendly, so I was just being friendly to him and treating him like we were friends. Then, of course, they started responding and coming, and we got to know each other bit by bit, week by week.

Yeah. Clarence, did things get worse in your community at that time, and how did you and Gary work through that? Well, no things in my neighborhood did not necessarily get worse. I mean, we were segregated. I did have some of my friends ask me about going to the white church, and then I think some parents were concerned about me as a black guy going to the church and how can my mother or dad let me go, and so that was kind of an issue.

But my neighborhood per se did not get worse because I had a friendship with Gary. In fact, they saw him come pick me up sometimes in my neighborhood. And how did they respond to that, this white pastor picking up this African-American young man? Well, you need to understand back in the 60s that people of faith were treated differently and had a lot of respect, whether they were black or white. So in fact, he was a minister coming to get me, sort of gave him a pass. And usually only white people came in our neighborhood were collecting bills. And so it wasn't uncommon to see a white person come in our neighborhood, but it wasn't uncommon to see us as black people get in the same car and go somewhere with them.

I'm interested in Gary. Was there ever anything that he didn't get, you know, anything that you would say? Did you have to school him about something? Well, I'm gonna say this, then I'll turn it over to him, because it's one incident we need to talk about.

But, you know, honestly, I had such a hunger at the time for the word, and this is totally new. I'm going to this forbidden territory of being with white people and kind of learning that world. So I'm starting to live in two worlds.

I live in my own world, black world within the white world. But there is one thing I'll let Gary tell you, I wouldn't say I schooled him, but I guess we both got an education. But Gary, why don't you tell Chris about the first time you came and picked us up and you explain that.

Yeah, okay. Yeah, I went by the house, Clarence's house, to pick up him and James, another one of his friends. And I got out of my car and they were on the porch. And I started walking toward the house. And I said, you boys ready to go?

And his friend James said, I ain't no boy. And I said, okay, James, I think we need to have a talk. And I said, when this is all over, because the time framework, we had to leave. I said, when we get through with the meeting tonight, let's the three of us sit down.

And I want to hear what you're saying, man, you know, I want to understand you. And so we went on to the meeting. And that night, we had a long discussion afterwards. And Clarence and James explained to me, he said, you know, our father's grown men are called boys by white men. And we've always been told, don't ever let white people call you a boy. You know, they saw it as a derogatory term. And I said, man, I get it.

It never crossed my mind, Chris, in those days that that word would have, you know, derogatory meaning. And once I affirm them, and you know, it's expressed understanding, I said, Guys, let me just share my perspective. And I said, you know, if I were picking up two white guys your age, I would have called them boys. I said, to me, the term has to do with age, you know, not with anything else.

And they understood that, you know, they affirm that. And so that's the kind of conversations I think you will have in starting friendships with someone of a different race or culture, because we perceive things differently. And we don't understand, you know, terms and what they might mean to people. But when you're beginning to spend time together and listening to each other, you get the other person's perspective.

And consequently, you're less likely than to put other people down unknowingly, by using terms that have a different meaning in that culture. Clarence, what happened to you when you heard Gary listening to what you two had to say? Well, one, we were boys.

But it was so to have an adult, you know, male, which is a big deal, too. And we both have really great dads. But to have him take time to listen, our perspective immediately helped, you know, my friend and me to really love Gary. He treats us with respect.

He treated us with dignity. So he immediately made us feel equal. And so we really, I think it was really at that time that he began, or at least from our perspective, we began to really become friends. That was really important, you know, he's a grown man, the time we weren't.

That was huge for us. And I think that's when I began to feel I could trust him. And that's when he sort of became non-white to me, you know, even though physically I could see he was white, but in realism, I said, you can't really be white and be good, because that breaks the stereotype. And so I'm trying to process all that in my head, you know, as a 14 year old, 14, 15 year old. I think what you've just touched on there is the reason why things are so hard today. And it's because people won't listen. You'll hear something about something that's going on in the culture, where there's a difference of opinion between one race and another. And immediately you entrench in your, and you can't listen, you can't listen to the other person. Isn't that Gary, the start of a good friendship is to be able to say, tell me what, how do you see this differently than I do? I think, Chris, that is the heart of what builds a relationship. We have to have ears to hear the other person's perspective. You know, I've been teaching this for years in marriage, that a husband in a conflict situation with his wife needs to try to put himself over there and look at the world through her eyes, try to understand how she could think what she's thinking and feel what she's feeling, and then affirm it. It's not what he thinks and feels because he's a different person.

And so it works in a marriage in the same race. But across cultural lines, it's so important that when there is something that the person takes in a way that you didn't mean it, is to hear them out and try to understand where they're coming from, you know, what they're feeling, why they're feeling it. And when you do, you can affirm it.

Whereas before, you didn't understand it. Now you can say, I get it, you know, I see how you would feel that way. And then they listen to you the same way. It takes this empathetic listening that is trying to understand the other person's perspective, and then affirming it, that allows a friendship to go forward. Because otherwise, if you don't solve conflicts and work through conflicts, typically the relationship stops. And often it stops, you know, too short to really get into a friendship. But you could have said, look, I just met age, and I didn't mean anything by it racially, you're too sensitive, and you're walked away. And that's what most relationship, well, a lot of relationships, what they do today, they just dismiss. Yeah, we get defensive, and shoot back a defense of what we said or what we did. And when we were defensive, we never get to the root of the problem, because we never understand the other person. Yeah, and had Gary said that, we never would have got in the car. And so if he said we were too sensitive, we never got into the car.

And the relationship probably would have ended there before it got started. If you go to the, if you go to, you'll see that featured resource. This new book by Dr. Chapman, Dr. Shuler, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides One Relationship at a Time.

Go to Clarence, we both acknowledge that making friendships as adults can be challenging, and sometimes requires you to step out of your comfort zone. Share the story about two men who had an initial bonding over their minivans, and how easily relationship, positive relationships, can get started. Well, the story is actually one of my friends who I mentor, or he asked me to be his spiritual dad. And he is a white guy. He's six feet four inches tall.

He used to play offensive lineman in college. And he says, I love my dad, but I need somebody to be my spiritual dad. Will you do that? So I'm like his spiritual dad. So he's at the gas station in his minivan.

They have four children. And he sees this black guy filling up his minivan. And all of a sudden, he says to the black guy, he says, hey, that's a nice minivan you got. And the black guy says, well, yeah, but I'd rather be driving a truck, but I've got five kids and one on the way, so the minivan is more practical.

And so he said, I'd rather be driving a truck too. And just that commonality and wanting to take the initiative, they talked long enough to where my friend knew who he was and got his number and asked him out for lunch. And so after that, they met at lunch, found out they both were Christians.

And now I think they meet every week or every two weeks and just have built a relationship. And it was just that simple of saying hello to someone or making a positive comment and the other guy taking off with it. So it's really easy to do. It's not as hard as people think it is.

Yeah. Well, what do you say to people who might be intimidated by that kind of story? And they say, oh, I could never do that.

Just talk to somebody I don't know at the gas station. Well, if they're a Christian, I would just say, well, you know, it could be possible we should, you know, take a risk and speak out. I said, the Bible also tells us we should tell people about Jesus Christ.

So we should actually pray about opportunities to share the gospel. And I say, I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm really nervous, but I get that opportunity and I just try and speak. And I say, I do understand that. And then I ask them, why do you think you're so intimidated? Or do you think maybe you could just say hello to someone who's different without any kind of racial connotation?

Just say, hey, how are you doing? Do you think you could do that? And so when they began to look at it and try and go beyond themselves, we talked about this whole thing about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

And I think when Christians learn how to do that, then great things can happen. I remember another story we tell in the book is a couple of ladies, one was white and one was black, and they kept running into each other at the grocery store. Each week they'd kind of pass each other and say hi, you know. And one day the white lady said to the black lady, this must be your shopping day.

I see you here often. And she said, oh yes, this is my shopping day. And so the white lady said, well, how are things going in your life? And she said, well, that's fine, except my mother is really, really sick. And so she listened to her. She talked about her mother and she said, well, I'm going to pray for your mother. And so the next week she asked how her mother was doing. And then she said, maybe the third week, she said, you know, would it be okay if I brought your mother, if I visited with your mother and brought her some flowers? And she said, well, sure, yeah, sure.

She was kind of shocked, you know. And so she did. When she left, the lady told her the next week, she said, my mother was shocked that you, a white lady, would come and bring her flowers and pray for her. And so they started having conversations at the grocery store week after week. And I don't know, several weeks along into that, she invited her to come to a Bible study at her house that she had with other ladies. And so this lady came and she was the only black lady there. But eventually, she, you know, they all became friends.

She became a part of the group. And so, again, it was just taking the first step to initiate a conversation, just as simple as asking a person's name when you run in. And we all encounter people. It's pretty hard in our country, unless you really live in a rural area that's, you know, totally segregated, not to run into people of a different race or culture.

It's just that we tend to ignore each other many times rather than, you know, starting a conversation. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. If you go to our website,, you'll see our featured resource, as well as many of Dr. Chapman's books. He's the New York Times bestselling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . Go to for some of those resources, and you can hear a podcast of the program and find more simple ways to strengthen relationships at The featured resource today is the book by Dr. Clarence Shuler and Dr. Gary Chapman, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides One Relationship at a Time. We have it linked at Gary, you talk about friendship beginning with courtesy and patience. What do you mean by that? Well, you know, Chris, the word courtesy comes from two Greek words. One means the mind, and the other means friend. So to be courteous is to be friendly-minded. That is, treat people as you would treat a friend. And if you keep that in your heart and mind, and this is why I say it begins there, that I want to be courteous to the people that I encounter today.

I'll give you an example. If you were driving your car and you pulled into a parking lot and it was packed and you saw an empty space and you're driving toward that space, but you see another car come around the corner and they're headed for the same space. What do we do by nature? What do we do by nature? We speed up and get the place. But if the person in the other car was a friend of yours, what would you do?

Chances are you'd give them the spot. Well, what if we treat everybody as though they were a friend? You see, it gives you a mental picture in your mind when you're asking yourself that question. I want to treat people as a friend. How would I treat my friend? And when you have that attitude, it's the beginning step, I think, of having cross-cultural friendships, is that you're going to treat people as a friend. And who knows, they may become your friend down the line. And the patience part, I think, recognized that friendships are not born overnight. You know, it was a long time before Clarence and I probably would even thought in terms of that we're friends.

Yes. You know, we were acquaintances. He came to the meetings. We had that time, you know, and then once he became a Christian, I started meeting with him and having, you know, studying scriptures with him, memorizing scriptures with him, and that sort of thing. And at that juncture, it was really what we call a mentoring friendship, you know.

And Christians, I mean, that's our job, leading people to Christ and then mentoring them or discipling them. And so it was a mentoring relationship. But it was a friendship. We talked about different levels of friendship. And that's one kind or one type of friendship is a mentoring friendship. And at that juncture, we would have called ourselves friends because we'd spent enough time together.

And I kind of sensed his heart and he sensed my heart. But I think friendships are born over time. They don't just happen, you know, over a weekend and now we're friends.

We initiate them, perhaps over a weekend or anywhere, anytime. But it takes time to grow friendships. That's what struck me, Clarence, about your friendship with Gary. It was so organic.

There was no agenda on either side. You just came to know each other and grew in that friendship. And over the decades, you love each other. Well, yeah, I mean, it just sort of happened, you know, from a biblical perspective. He was, again, it was intriguing to me because it was a new world for me. It's a world that I had been forbidden to enter. And so to be able to enter that world and to enter my own world was exciting for a new guy and for me. And then he was telling me stuff about Jesus that I didn't know, I didn't really know about Jesus in the context of being a personal savior, having a personal relationship. So that was, all that was very fascinating and intriguing and quite a draw for me. Did you two have any conflict, Clarence?

Not that I know of. I think the only thing we had and it was, you know, was the boy thing. That's the one time that we kind of reared back. Other than that, honestly, Chris, we really didn't talk about race a lot.

Not that we tried to avoid it. There were times, I think, when he started discipling me that I was concerned for his safety because I would see his neighbors give him a kind of look that they would no one be reserved for me. And so, I was concerned for him and his family. And of course, I found out later he saw those looks, but I was concerned he just oblivious to it or not. But that was it.

But we have not had, you know, from my perspective, any real conflict. Gary, any tough love with Clarence? Well, I remember the time when he got lax at his studies when he was in college, and he flunked out and had to move out of the dorm and all. And I don't know how I found out where he was. But anyway, I called the guy that he was living with, had moved in with, given him a place to stay, asked him if I could speak to Clarence. And he told Clarence, he said, Clarence doesn't want to talk to you. And I said, Well, you tell Clarence, if he doesn't talk to me on the phone, I'll be up there tomorrow morning. So, Clarence decided he'd talk to me on the phone. And he shared, you know, that he felt like he had disappointed me.

And that's why he didn't want to talk to me. And I said, Well, Clarence, I am disappointed. You know, I am.

I'm sure I am disappointed. I said, but it's not the end of the world. And I said, there's still a future. And God still has plans for you. So I said, you know, think about it, you might just come home for a while and work for a while. And then we'll talk and pray about what the next step is.

I said, but it's not the end of the world. Clarence, I don't know how you responded in your own mind now, looking back on that, how important that was, but Well, well, I think for me, the fact you found me really surprised me. And in Chris, you may not know this, my dad had died about a year earlier. Or and so, so really, I never told Gary, but I kind of looked at him as my dad.

In fact, my dad was alive. I felt like I had the best of two worlds that had two dads. So he found when he called me out, you know, I was embarrassed, you know, because I was about beating the system.

And usually I flunked my midterm and aced my final and keep my 2.0 so I could play basketball, but I forgot my final exam schedule and flunked out. And I was actually homeless for about three weeks. And then this guy had me come stay with him. So that was, you know, the fact that he cared really meant a lot, even I didn't say it at the time. And it kind of gave me hope. I mean, there was no way I was going home, because I've just been too embarrassed.

And so I found a job working at a youth center, Chicago Gospel Mission Youth Center, and got my grades back up and then, you know, got a partial scholarship to another Christian school. But knowing he was there for me really meant a lot. And just to hear that, you know, if there's somebody listening and you feel like there's some mistake that you've made, and it's the end of the world, probably it isn't. But what I find the enemy doing, Clarence, is isolating. And that's what he did with you. You know, you were in shame and guilt and all of that.

But there are people who loved you and wanted the best for you, and were willing to, they were down for the struggle, as they say. Last week on the program, Clarence, we talked about transracial, trans-ethnic cultural adoption. And we talked about the idea of being colorblind. I don't see color anymore. I just see, I'm just going to love my adopted child, no matter where they're from or what color they are. That colorblind conundrum is really something that you want to address.

Talk about that. Well, I'm also a diversity consultant. And so I serve a lot of Christian and secular organizations, helping them in their diversity areas, issues. And one thing you need to know is that kids who are adopted by different cultures, usually between 18 and 25, typically have an identity crisis, no matter how good the parents have been, because they don't really fit into parents' culture. And then a lot of times, because they've been adopted and put into another culture, they don't really fit in their own culture.

And so they can be rejected by two cultures. So you need to understand that. But typically, almost in my first session of doing diversity training, someone will say, hey, I'm colorblind, and we don't really need to have this session. And I say, that's really great. And I say, wow, I'm sorry, you're colorblind. And I say, well, what color is that shirt you have on? And then they'll say it's blue.

And I say, hold time out. I say, how can you be colorblind and tell what color that is? And most people, when they say that, have good intentions. They're trying to say they want to be treated equally.

And there are some who are actually defensive. And if you ask them enough questions, you'll find they have a racial issue. But when people talk about colorblind, it can be unintentionally misleading. And it may stimulate negative emotions by people of color and raise questions.

Let me simply ask this question. If you don't see color, that means you don't see me. Am I invisible? And so we've had some dear friends who've been wounded more than I have, and that becomes a big issue. If you're colorblind, then which culture are you going to implement, yours or mine, if you're colorblind? So that really becomes something that a lot of people don't think about. And so I'm just suggesting that we shouldn't, it's not a great word to use, because God's got a difference and God's not colorblind. So to say we're colorblind can create a problem.

And I think the goal is not uniformity, but unity. And that God brings people all races together and tries to make them one in Christ, as brothers and sisters, but he doesn't make them all the same. And so I think it's really important that we don't deny our differences.

In fact, we don't deny our God-given differences, but embrace that. So people who adopt kids of different cultures should really learn about those different cultures, and share that with the child they're adopting, that they've adopted and raised. I think, Chris, that's exactly what our speaker last week on the program was saying, who has adopted two black children, along with the two biological children that she has, is expose those children to their biological culture, so that they do identify with their race or their culture, along with the adoptive parents. We hope today's program is encouraging you about healing the racial divide in our country. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. He's the author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . He's also written a new book with Dr. Clarence Schuler, titled Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships. How you can help heal racial divides, one relationship at a time.

Find out more at Clarence, can you give us the key ingredients needed for a cross-cultural friendship? Well, I think some of the things that we've already discussed, but one would be acceptance or an openness to those who are different from us. And Gary talked about that when I came into the church and people were concerned.

He said, hey, it's going to be okay. So that was an acceptance, which is really important. I think you have to have intentionality. I think you have to be willing to risk rejection. You know, when Gary had me come in, well, when I was at the church and he was telling people it's going to be okay, he risked some rejection from his neighbors.

I risked rejection from my peers by having friends or going to a church that was white. I think respect, if we develop a relationship, also forgiveness. And I think overcoming some of our fears of different cultures, extending grace and learn to spend time together. I think those are really some of the key ingredients and the whole idea of serving each other. So, I think celebrating other cultures and to celebrate other cultures, you have to understand their history so you can do things together. And then one of "The 5 Love Languages" , I think acts of service. So, I think if we do some of those things and you don't do them all at once, but in the context of Building Relationships, in the context of Building Relationships, that really helps across cultural friendship or friendship in the same race. Yeah.

Intentional is the main word that you use there. So, let's cut to the chase. Gary, how do you do this? How do you begin and foster these kinds of friendships that you're talking about? Well, Chris, I believe as Christians, the first thing we do is pray. If God loves everybody in the world and wants everybody in the world to know Him and have a relationship with Him. And if I am a Christian and have accepted His gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life and a relationship with God, then wouldn't we assume since He's told us to go into all the world and share the gospel and make disciples, wouldn't we assume that He wants to use me to reach people that I encounter in the normal flow of life many times who are different from me? And so, I think just praying about it.

I think there are many Christians, Chris, who really have never even thought about the whole concept of having a deep friendship with someone of a different race. And so, I think you just pray and say, God, you know, I've heard this program or maybe you read the book now and I'm beginning to think maybe you want me to do this, you know. So, I'm just praying that you'll help me to have open eyes to see the opportunities that are around me and lead me as I seek to reach out and acknowledge people who are different from me. So, I think it starts with a prayer because everything we do, it needs to be a base with God, you know, we need the help of God.

And so, I think if we do that, then God will open our eyes. And the people maybe have just been walked down the hallways where we work or where we go to school or sports events and we see them. We've just never identified them.

We've never had a conversation with them. We might, rather than just saying, hey, how are you? Fine, how are you? We might pause long enough to say, you know, I don't know if I've ever even gotten your name down, but what is your name? If it's somebody that you see on a regular basis. And see, again, that's kind of risky because you think they're going to think awful of me. I don't even know their name. Well, you don't know their name.

Just be honest, you know, because they may not know your name either. But at any rate, you can start having conversations with people. I think it begins with an initial conversation in which you just talk about anything to start with.

But it has to get deeper than the weather and sports eventually, which are the two common things that we do talk about. And so I think once that starts, then maybe it moves to having spending a break time together, if you work in the same place, or maybe having lunch together, or, you know, something that you sit down together where you have a deeper conversation to find out if they're married, if they have kids, you get the names of the kids and all this sort of thing. And it's just little by little, as we spend time together, you might have several lunches.

And every lunch you have, every lunch you have, you're getting to know each other better. And then you consequently, you start thinking in terms and asking questions about, you know, is there anything I could do that to help you? Or are you struggling anywhere in your life? Or how are things going? And if people sense that you are interested in them, and you ask, how are things going? They will tell you how things are going.

Just like the lady I mentioned earlier in the grocery store who said, well, I'm doing okay, except my mother's really, really sick. So if you ask questions as to how things are going, and then listen, you know, don't just walk away, they'll eventually, if they think you're serious, they'll begin to tell you. And then you can see things that you might do to enrich their lives. And Clarence mentioned that whole attitude of serving others. I mean, this is the central theme of the Christian life. Jesus said about himself, I didn't come to be served, I came to serve.

And we're called to serve others and the way he served us. So eventually, we're looking for how we can help the other person. And when we help them, then chances are, if we have a need that they can fulfill, they're gonna help us because friendships always a two way street, it's never a one way street. So those are those are kind of the common ways in which we can start friendships. I like that.

And I have to turn to you, Clarence, and say, you know, I've been around for a long time in the Christian world, promise keepers and pulpit exchanges between one church and another. What you and Gary are talking about is really on a heart level one to one. It's the micro rather than the great big change out there. You really believe that this can have a big effect in the in the culture today?

I really do. You know, it used to be a time that I was sort of against that and thinking the mass movement or someone wanted to have a friend and said, I don't have a black friend, would you be my friend? And I used to really get offended by that because I say if you just need a black friend, any black guy will do.

But then I had to really kind of go back and say, well, God, what are you saying to me to even allow that person to approach me? And as I look at Gary and my relationship, my relationship with other people of different cultures, the one on one, I think is what really makes a difference. You develop friendships, you can have conflict that you work through. And if you work through conflict, it actually makes you closer together.

But I do think it's the one on one. And so, you can actually disagree with someone politically or about even some theology. But if you're Christians or your friends, then your friendship is the most important thing and all the other things are just, you know, on the side. And not just persuade one or the other about their political convictions or different things, but that friendship gives us patience and it gives us understanding. And when we have understanding, then a lot of times it takes the frustration out or alleviate some of the frustration when we have differences. So, yeah, I think what Gary and I are trying to do and share makes a lot of difference in the world. And then it gives you great patience with each other too when you do disagree.

Well, and that's when you answer the question about, you know, what he said when he walked up to the porch. It's like that could have broken the relationship right there. But it was that conflict and then that listening by you, Gary, that took you to a deeper level and continues to this day. So, don't look at conflict as the worst thing that can happen.

It might draw you together, right? Yeah, conflict is inevitable simply because we're different. Husbands and wives have conflicts because they're different.

They're two individual people. And so, cross-culturally, we may have even more conflicts because we have different perspectives historically in our minds that the other person really doesn't understand. You know, conflicts are simply a part of the process of developing long-term friendships. And so, that's why we shouldn't be shocked by conflicts.

We should simply seek to understand each other and work through the conflicts. Clarence, why does God celebrate diversity? Does he?

Well, I think he does. If we look to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verses 4 through 27, what's interesting in that is that you have the body that talks about unity. Then you have the many parts that talk about diversity and they exist simultaneously. And as I'm studying this more and as Gary and I are talking and teaching on this topic, it seems to me that God really embraces difference.

But here's the deal, that Gary has a difference that I, has something I don't have and vice versa. But what God does with our differences, he creates an interdependency. And when we come together and realize we need each other, then that creates a unity that I really believe glorifies God. And so, I think that's why God celebrates difference and diversity is to really teach us how to become interdependent upon one another like we are with him and the body.

And I think that brings a smile to God's face. Well, I just, you know, in the last few years looking at all the divisions and the conflict, I just think something like this might be the very spark that will change things. And I know that's your hope, Gary and Clarence, that that's what you want to foster here. So thank you for writing this and putting this together.

Well, we're excited about it. You know, you cannot legislate friendships. We can legislate some things and we should and we have, but you can't legislate friendships. They have to be forged one friendship at a time. Clarence, thanks for your work.

Well, thanks so much for having us. And our prayers that people as they listen to this show today that, well, their hearts will be touched and they'll have the Philippians 4.13, I can do all things in Christ who strengthen me, that I can go out and be cordial and say hello to someone of a different culture and see what God does with that. That's Dr. Clarence Shuler, who has written along with Dr. Gary Chapman, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, how you can help heal racial divides one relationship at a time. You can find out more at the website,

That's And coming up next week, how to find freedom from depression and anxiety. Don't miss the conversation with counselor and author, Janita Pace. Before we go, let me thank our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-24 20:27:58 / 2022-12-24 20:47:51 / 20

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