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Life-Changing Friendships | Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Clarence Shuler

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
June 8, 2024 1:00 am

Life-Changing Friendships | Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Clarence Shuler

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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June 8, 2024 1:00 am

Do you want to help heal the racial divide? Does that seem like too big of a task? On this special Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, hear a chapel message given by Dr. Chapman and his life-long friend, Dr. Clarence Shuler. They believe you heal the division in our world one relationship at a time. Hear about a life-changing friendship 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

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Where there is a lot of fear, I think there's very little faith.

I think a lot of people are afraid to even talk about the topic of race or division or diversity. If we allow the conflicts to bring it to an end and say, well, you know, they don't understand me, I don't understand them, then we just walk away, we will not build cross-cultural friendships. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, an exciting conversation because Gary and his friend, Clarence Shuler, spoke to the students of Moody Bible Institute just prior to our conversation.

And we're going to hear what they had to say in just a few minutes. Their real-life story of cross-cultural friendship is coming up straight ahead. Gary and Clarence met a long time ago, longer than they both want to admit, and the culture around them back then was different.

But some of the obstacles they faced, we're still facing today. If you go to buildingrelationships.us, you'll see our featured resource, Life Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships. How you can help heal racial divides, one relationship at a time.

Again, go to buildingrelationships.us. Gary and Clarence are in the studio together at Moody Radio, Moody Bible Institute, and you two were talking to Moody students about your experiences. Gary and Clarence both studied at Moody. It must have brought back a lot of good memories for you, Gary.

Well, it did bring back a lot of memories because, you know, it was 1955, 1958, that I sat in that same auditorium as a student. I was 17 years old when I first came to Moody Bible Institute, and I've sometimes said this is the first time I learned that there were Christians who weren't Baptists. I grew up in a little Baptist church in North Carolina.

I thought all the real Christians were Baptists. So Moody had a tremendous impact on my life, and yeah, I had a lot of memories as I just sat there and reflected back a little bit on that. Clarence is the co-author of our featured resource, Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships.

He's also president and CEO of Building Lasting Relationships, counselor, speaker, author of a number of books. Clarence, give me your perspective of looking out at those students today. Well, for me, when I was here in, you know, in 72 to 74, it was a much more diverse crowd today than I've seen when I was a student.

And international as well as Hispanic, First Nation, and Native Americans. And, you know, it's just really, it was neat to see the young students, and they always, I think I can speak for Gary, they inspire us. And so we're excited to see them.

It was really great. I watched this, and there was something that happened in that room between you and the students. And you two are just sitting in chairs, just having a chat, really, talking about your friendship through the years. But there were two moments where I heard emotion in your voice, Gary. And one was when you tell the story about a mistake that you made, and we're going to hear that in just a minute. But toward the end, you started talking about heaven and how we're on the road to, all of us are on this road to heaven if we're in Christ. And that some people that you've known are already there, you know, and you're talking to these young people. There's just something that grabbed my heart as I heard you.

What was going on in your heart when you talked that way? Well, I just had this sense, you know, when I was sitting there and realizing that these students, you know, at their age, and preparing for various types of ministry, and that we all are headed for the same place. You know, and maybe I'm thinking more about heaven than they are, because I'm probably closer than they are. And I was just thinking, oh, yeah, we're all on the same road, but let's just get to know each other while we're on the road to there, because then we're going to spend eternity together. Well, we're going to hear that message in its entirety in just a few minutes. Don't miss this live recording of Gary and Clarence together. But I'm wondering how you would respond to this, Clarence.

The book was released a couple of years ago. Has the issue of the racial divide changed in the last two or three years, do you think? Well, I think it's more intense. When Gary and I were dealing with our initial meeting and experience, it was racial tension, but now it seems to be more personal. I think the Christian community, which back then was very silent, is very vocal today, but not always in a positive way. And so I think the racial divide is much more intense.

I also think a lot of Christians have blended their theology with their politics, which I think is unhealthy. So that would be my response to the changes that I've seen in the racial divide. And I think the import of you two sharing in front of the students, and now with us here on the radio today, is Gary, you could not know what was going to happen with this friendship that you started when Clarence was a teenager. This was not orchestrated to be the book that we see or the conversation we're hearing now, because you didn't know how it would turn out, right?

Absolutely, Chris. I don't think the word friendship necessarily entered my mind in those early stages of our relationship. It was just, you know, Clarence came to be a part of our youth group, and we just got to know each other, and then he came to Christ, and I did what I would do with anyone who comes to Christ.

I tried to spend time with him and help him grow in the Christian life. So, you know, that's kind of what I was thinking. Neither one of us could see 50-plus years ahead and know how God was going to lead us into this deep, personal friendship. Clarence, you mentioned the intensity, and I think with the division in the country, in the world too, but especially in the U.S., a lot of people have retreated because they're scared. They want healing to happen of all the division that we have, but they're afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. So, in a sense, they're missing out on the beauty of the cross-cultural relationships and friendships that are available.

Do you agree with that? Yeah, I think fear has taken a tremendous front and center place in the lives of a lot of Christians, and where there is a lot of fear, I think there's very little faith. And I think God is calling us to reach out to people, you know, as Gary said in Chapel in Matthew 28, verse 19, to make disciples of all nations, and I think there's a fear. I think people are afraid of being made to feel guilty, or there's a fear of not knowing what to expect.

And so, because their anticipation, really that anxiety, I think a lot of people are afraid to even talk about the topic of race, or division, or diversity, or difference. 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 at buildingrelationships.us. You can also hear a past program, take an online assessment to figure out your love language, or see our featured resource today, the book Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships by Dr. Chapman and our guest, Dr. Clarence Shuler.

Just go to buildingrelationships.us. Well, in late April, Dr. Shuler and Dr. Chapman took to the stage of Torrey Gray Auditorium on the campus of Moody Bible Institute, and here's what they had to say. Thank you.

Thank you. As we talk about this story that we want to share with you this morning, I want to start out in Genesis chapter 1, verses 26 through 28, just real briefly, and I want to share with you how God sees us. Now, think about it. During those verses, that's where the Trinity is, and God the Father says He wants to make some humans. And when He says He's going to do that, because He's omniscient, He knows we're going to sin, but He makes us anyway. And so think about it. The God of all creation knows we're going to be imperfect, but He wants us.

And I think it's a really powerful thing. And then it says three times in those two verses that He's made us in His image. And image, I use the term DNA. Now, some of you have seen babies, and babies are related to you, all beautiful, right?

Is that correct? Yeah, okay. But if we're honest, we have seen some babies, we go like, ooh, I hope they grow out of that, right? But when God our Father, because we're made in His image, because we have His DNA, all of us have value, we have purpose, and we have a godly destiny. And so we need to understand and focus on self-worth, not self-worship.

And if God looks at us this way, then we need to look at everybody that way. And so, Gary, you have some things that you want to share with us, too, as far as the biblical foundation. Will you tell us about that? Yeah, I think you cannot separate the word friendship from the word love.

You would expect that of me, right? Love. John chapter 13, verse 34 and 35, Jesus said, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.

Here's the new part, as I have loved you. Remember, He loved us when we were not unlovely. And then He said, By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by the way you love each other. In other words, He gave the non-Christian world the right to judge whether or not we're truly following Christ by the way we love. And then in Matthew chapter 28, 19 and 20, which all of you can quote, He said that we're to make disciples of people of all nations.

That includes all nations. You know, there's another word that's tied in with friendship. And that is the word hospitality. But when you think of hospitality, what do you normally think of?

What I've always thought of is, oh, it's having your friends over for dinner, you know. And some of you extended family and have dinner with them. But that word hospitality in the Bible where it says practice hospitality, the word means love strangers. Not your family, strangers. And I was reading just recently in these words from Jesus in Luke chapter 14. And He said, When you have a luncheon or a dinner, don't invite your friends and your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors. If you do, they'll invite you back and then you'll be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite people not like you, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you'll be blessed.

Although they cannot repay you, you'll be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. So it's very biblical to love people who are not like you. And that's what we want to talk about today. Cross-cultural friendships. I don't know what you've experienced, but when I walk on secular campuses across this country, I see white people hanging out with white people. And the blacks hang out with blacks. And the Hispanics hang out with Hispanics. And right on down the line, all the other cultures.

Now I understand that, because when I finished Moody, I majored at Wheaton College in cultural anthropology. I understand that. We feel more comfortable with people like us.

But we're called upon to love people who are not like us. And that's what happened with me and Clarence many years ago in the South, North Carolina. Yeah, when school integration was just starting, our relationship started.

Clarence, tell them what happened. Well, my friend Russell, who was my best friend at the time, I think he was 13, I was 14. And I was going to an all-black school. Russell was going to what we call a white school, an integrated school.

And these girls had invited, three white girls invited them to their gym. And so in North Carolina, we had basketball, tobacco, and Baptist permitting that order. And so basketball was my God before I became a believer. And so we wanted to go to this white church to play basketball.

Except for our parents, we had this big family council because it was not safe for blacks to go to white events or activities. So we were losing the battle. I was not a Christian, but I was always in church because my parents believed in church. And I said, Jesus will be with us. And so that one turned the tide and they let us go. And it was about four miles away. And so we walked to Gary's church. And once we crossed the railroad tracks, a lot of us in the South railroad tracks divided neighborhoods.

Once we crossed the railroad tracks and people started throwing bottles at us, calling us all kinds of names. And we finally got into the church. And we were two black guys and about 100 white kids. And some of the adults looked kind of concerned. You want to tell, what was your impression when we walked into the church? Well, when these two guys walked in, some of my adult volunteers looked at me and kind of pointed, you see that. And I just held up my hand as if to say, it's okay, it's okay.

And remember, this didn't happen in those days in the South. And so they started playing basketball, et cetera, et cetera. And I went out and introduced myself and they had a great time. Well, you came over to us and, well, we're also with the girls.

I went to the basketball court where I was safe. And then you came and introduced yourself to me. And that kind of blew me away. He said, I'm Gary Chapman and I'm glad you're here. And that just kind of shocked me because blacks and whites, at least then, this is 1968, we didn't get along very well.

But then I was amazed. He had a Bible study he would lead right there for about 20 minutes. We could talk about Christianity and dating and music and all kinds of stuff. And then we'd go back and play.

Then at the end, they'd share the gospel and they would feed us. And so that was it. And then the first night when we got ready to leave, this young white girl who was not even ugly came and said, she said, I heard you need a ride home.

I said, yeah. So she and her older brother drove us home and that was kind of cool. So they would pick us up and drive us home for a couple of weeks. And then all of a sudden they stopped coming. And then you want to tell about the first time you picked James and me up from my house?

Yeah. So I went by to pick them up and drive them to the church. And I pulled up in front of the house, got out of my car.

They were on the porch and I was walking the sidewalk toward the house. And I said, you boys ready to go? And his friend James said, I ain't no boy. And I said, oh, James, I think we probably need to talk. I was shocked. And so I said, look guys, we don't have time to talk right now, but when the meeting and all is over tonight, we need to talk our way through this because I want to understand you.

And so that night we must've talked close to two hours after it was all over. And they told me, you know, our fathers are called boys at work by white men. And they told us, don't ever let anybody call you boy. And I said, James, I had no idea, man.

I'm sorry. I can see how you'd feel that way, man. I said, can I tell you my side? I said, if I were pulling up in front of a house and there were two white guys, I would say, are you boys ready to go?

Because from my perspective, boys' age has nothing to do with race. And I think they understood me as best they could. So, you know, again, that was a deeper step in our relationship.

If you try to build friendships across cultural lines, you're going to have some misunderstandings because words that mean something to you will mean something else to somebody else. And so it's just a part of the whole process. And remember now, in these days, I remember the morning I got up and looked out on the street and the National Guard was on the street. Our city had tremendous racial divides.

In fact, the Ku Klux Klan would march downtown until the Black Panthers got there. And then they stopped. So we're talking about, you know, things very different from what they are today. But the fact that we started a friendship and began to build a friendship, it was a God thing. You know, we were both, you know, I was glad they were there, you know. Well, you know, I think what's important about that was that we had a conversation. Conflict is part of reality. So to avoid conflict, you avoid reality. And so for you to talk to us as a grown man and hear our side, and for us to hear your side, I think it made us closer.

Because if you handle conflict correctly, you actually get closer in the process. And so after that conversation, you could have called us boys, but you never did. But that really spoke to us. And we already loved you, and we were trying to figure it out because you're a grown man, won't spend time with us. That was a big deal for us.

And so I watched Gary, I remember at 14, I watched him like a hawk until I was 16. And he had something in his life that I didn't have, and I knew I needed, you know, Jesus to become a Christian. And so Saturday night in Hillsville, Virginia, you shared, is your life complete? Something missing in your life. And I didn't want a white guy leaving to the Lord, but I realized that I needed Jesus more than worry about the color of your skin. So that night you started sharing John 3.16, except you were doing it wrong.

You said, for God to love Clarence. And I was a drug baby, you know what drug babies are? You know, my parents went to church the time doors were open, so my parents would drug me to church all the time, I hated church.

So anyway, what do you think I was talking about? Anyway, so I was in church enough, I sang in the choir, I'd been baptized, but I wasn't a Christian. I remember that that's not how that verse went. And so I said that to you, and you said, well Clarence, when God's talking about the world, he's talking about you and everybody in it.

He can simultaneously love everybody. And so that night I received Jesus Christ into my life. I asked him to forgive me for my sins and to make my life what he wanted it to be. And it changed my life forever. Now, for us to go to the retreat, you shared something I didn't know. What was going on when we were trying to go to retreat?

You remember that? Oh yeah, yeah, when we announced that we were going to have a youth retreat. I got two phone calls, maybe three from parents who said, what is this deal? We hear that there's two black guys that are going on the retreat with you all. And I said, listen, they're not black guys.

They're black, but they're friends. They've been attending our youth ministry on Tuesday nights for two years. I mean, they're not strangers to us. They're part of our group.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, well, well, yeah. And this is just where people were at the time, you know? But we didn't have any problems with them, you know, after that.

I mean, they accepted that, and I was grateful for that. And then when Clarence gave his life to Christ, then we started meeting together. And he would come over to my house on Saturday mornings, and he walked, and I let him walk.

Because it said to me, this guy's hungry. This guy's willing to walk to my house. And so that's when my wife met him, and that's when my two children met him, and we just spent time together. So our friendship really began at that juncture as a mentoring relationship, or a discipleship relationship. But, you know, the first time I went to his house, again, his house is close to the church.

So again, when I crossed those railroad tracks, I was serenaded with certain songs, and I had to show my agility by missing bottles. I'll never forget the look on your neighbor's face when I came the first time. And I don't know if you saw it or not, but she gave him this look, like if looks could kill, I mean, she was not excited. And I was worried about you and your family, because I was used to getting that look. But I was concerned about you and what would happen to you and your family.

So did you see her look at you? Well, it didn't really register with me, but after you shared that with me, I said to my neighbor, my neighbor asked me something about who was the guy. You know, I said, well, he's a friend of mine. And I said, he accepted Christ at our camp, and we're spending time together studying the Bible. Oh, okay. So it was okay with her after that.

Hard to argue against God, you know. I guess so. But not long after that, I left that church and went to a church on the other side of town, where I have now served more than 50 years at the same church. Officially retired two years ago, to keep my office and keep my assistant.

So I'm still there every day seeing people. And so we lost contact for a few months there. But then you took the initiative. You found out you ran into somebody. Well, the only good thing about integration, or what I call desegregation at the time, was that I ran to Carol, who is your babysitter, and she reconnected me with you. Because what happened, I had gone to school with my friends in an all-black school since second grade to 10th grade, and some we never saw again because they separated us, and they sent all the best athletes to this one particular high school where Carol was.

And so that was kind of a rude awakening, a different thing, because actually the black high school had a much tougher academic curriculum than the school I went to. But the good thing was getting reconnected with you. So he made contact, and at that time, I was directing our college ministry, and a part of that was every Friday night for 10 years, we had open house at our house for college students, and we have anywhere from 20 to 60 students there. The whole program for two hours was Q&A, whatever they wanted to ask about anything, and I wasn't the answer man.

I was just leading the discussion. And so I thought, you know, this would be good for Clarence, even though he's in high school. And so I invited him to come, and he started coming. The rest of that two years there, you were involved in that. I think he invited me to keep me out of trouble and keep an eye on me.

I think that's why he really had me coming. But it was kind of cool being with college students. And after high school, I was actually trying to go to Wake Forest University because I wanted to play basketball in ACC, and I had gone to this guy, Jack McCloskey, who was the head coach at Wake Forest at the time, and I made this all-star team, so that's where I wanted to go. But because of integration and all that stuff, I didn't play my last years in high school. And so he said, if you get a walk-on scholarship, he said if you come to school, I'll give you a walk-on scholarship, and everything's cool.

So everything was set up to go play in ACC. And then he went to the NBA. He got a chance to coach the NBA, so he left, so my walk-on scholarship left. And I wanted to go to college. I wanted to get away from home.

My parents probably wanted me to get away from home. And all the other school I knew or ever heard about was Moody Bible Institute. And so I started preaching when I was 17, and then I said, don't tell them I said this, but the only reason I went to Moody is because I thought if I could be half the man of God, this guy he is, that'd be a good thing. So I ended up applying and got accepted at Moody, and life was interesting. And while I was here at Moody, I was really kind of upset because when I came here, people didn't really talk to me.

It's kind of like being back in the South. They looked at me, but they didn't talk to me. And when basketball season started, I started as a freshman, so then people started talking to me. So I kind of went from the outhouse to the penthouse, and I was sort of pseudo-popular. And so I would usually flunk my midterm and ace my final so I could keep my 2.0 and stay eligible, because I was all about beating systems. And then the first semester of my senior year, the end of that, I forgot my exam schedule, and I flunked out of school.

So I was homeless in Chicago for about a month. And how did you find out I wasn't in school? I don't remember how I found out, but I did find out. And I made a call, and somebody else answered the phone, and I said, I'm Gary Chapman. I'm a friend of Clarence Schuler, and I'd like to talk to Clarence. And I guess he turned and said something to you, and 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'm going to get on a plane tomorrow morning, and I'll be up there tomorrow. So Clarence decided to talk to me.

Now, think about it. My father died when I was 20 years old. So I was here at Moody when my father died. And Gary and our pastor actually left a conference and came to our funeral. So we were really close. And I remember asking you to take care of my mom. So he was really like a father to me, especially my dad died.

But he was very frank with me, but he didn't give up on me. And that really meant a lot to me during that time. And so that was a hard time for me, but it was a good time. And I ended up working at a place called Chicago Gospel Mission, which was the second oldest at the time.

I don't think it existed anymore, but they had a Chicago Gospel Youth Center. And so I went there and played in my basketball skills. I developed a relationship with the kids. They had about 500 kids come in there. So I coached the girls team and two boys teams and ran Awanas.

And as I began to work with these kids, I became a little less selfish and got my grades if I went to another school to play basketball, to get a degree. And that's kind of what happened. Yeah, I told Clarence on the phone, I said, Clarence, I'm disappointed.

Yeah, I am disappointed, but it's not the end of the world. And God still has plans for you. So let's just pray and ask God to show you what the next step is. And that's when he got involved in the ministry here in town. Yeah. Which was really, really a time of growth and personal growth. Well, it was. Well, as a disciples and others, I shared with them things you had taught me. And it just really, because you don't need a teaching position, you learn more when you're in a student position. So that just helped me a lot in just so many ways.

And so I was really grateful for that. And I think once I went to school and then when I went to seminary, God showed me that studying was an act of worship. And he said, if you're not faithful to these books, I'm not going to trust you with people. And so I don't know if you remember now, but I got a four on my first semester. Do you remember what I said? I mean, when I told you I got four, you remember what you said to me? I don't remember what I said. Maybe I said something like, I knew you could do it or something.

I don't know. You did. You said, I knew you could do it.

I'm glad to see it in black and white. So that was really kind of a big deal. And so that was kind of where our relationship went through. And then after that, Mark, because I was a full-time ministry ordained me to ministry. And you gave the ordination sermon. And I was cool with the ordination sermon. My mother was crying, so I wasn't looking at her. And everything was cool until he said that Derek and Shelly, his children pray for me every day.

And they saw me and said they're big brother. And that's when I sort of lost it when you did that. And then later on, you were best man at my wedding. And even though I think the groom should be the best man at the wedding, but, and so he did our premarital counseling.

He did a pretty good job except when he started talking about submission, I didn't like that because I thought submission meant that I was in charge. And she had to, you know, when I said frog, she had to jump. He said, no, it's a voluntary yielding.

I said, man, you're killing me, man. So anyway, but he's always been involved. But you want to tell them the story when we had our twins and we came back to Winston-Salem and we went to K&W, which is a restaurant. Yeah. He had twins. Had twins, yeah.

Had twins and so they came back to town because they had moved at that point. Yeah, we moved. Yeah, we were somewhere. So we were walking into the cafeteria and I said, well, let me hold Christina. And so I took her in my arms and we walked into the cafeteria. And before I got the food, I just went walking around the cafeteria and introducing people to my granddaughter. Now, everybody in the cafeteria pretty much looked like him. He's running around with this black baby.

And I'm excited, but I'm shocked. And so I look at his wife, Carolyn. And if you don't know Carolyn, she is the coolest lady.

She never gets flustered. And she said in her beautiful southern accent, she said, honey, it's going to be okay. It's his first grandbaby. Which, you know, that's just an example of the fact that real friendship goes beyond just person one and two. Like when his dad died is when I met his mother and I met his sister and kind of became a part of their family. And then my kids from the very beginning when they were young started calling him their brother and still do.

And his three daughters now all call me grandpa. So it's, you know, friendship, you're there for each other. You know, you work through your misunderstandings and you both know anything we can do for each other, we're going to do it. And so, you know, there are different levels of friendship. There are some situational friendships. For example, you know, four guys who play golf every week. If you ask one of them about somebody, they'd say, oh, yeah, he's one of my friends. He's my golf buddy. But that's all they ever have is they're just talking golf.

And most of the time there they're talking about sports or the weather. They don't really build a friendship. It is somewhat a friendship. It's a situational friendship. But if one of them has to drop out for something, they might get a phone call or two, but the situation changed so they're not that close anymore.

And it can start anywhere. It can start, you know, with just a situational friendship where you're kind of thrown together. But personal friendship goes much deeper than that, and it continues, you know, throughout life. And one of the things that we discuss in the book, one of the questions we ask in the book is, what if every Christian, every Christian in this country had at least one close personal friend of a different race or culture?

We believe it would change the climate in our country. So, you know, that's why Clarence and I are just, we wish every Christian could have a relationship like we've had through the years. Clarence, let's talk a little bit about this practicality.

Okay. You know, where would you start with this whole concept? Well, I think I would start with prayer. You know, I was 1 John 5 verses 14 and 15 said, Pray according to God's will that He hears us and grants us those requests. And you already shared Matthew 28 verses 19 and 20 that we should make friends of all nations, disciples of all nations.

So this is part of God's will. I think the other thing with verse, it's kind of hard to find. If you go to New King James, I'm not there very often, but the New King James version, I think Proverbs 18, 24 says, someone who's friendly will make friends. You know, and so I think we need to be friendly. We need to initiate that no matter what we are. And so like, could be here at school, if you see someone in the cafeteria who never has anybody sit with them or they seem to be lonely, no matter what culture they are, just go by and sit with them and see, hey, can I eat with you today? And just begin to have a conversation. I think that's one good practical way of starting. What about you?

Anything you're going to do, you better start with prayer. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Another word that I think is important is the word courtesy. The English 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. It's to treat people whom you encounter as you would treat a friend. Now you get that mindset and you think in terms of that, you will see all kinds of opportunities.

You know, I'll just give you an illustration. If you're pulling into a parking lot that's packed with cars and you're looking for a parking place and you see one and you're headed for it and you see another car come around the other way, what are you going to do? You're going to speed up and get it. But what if you consider, what if that person in that car was your friend and you knew it was one of your friends? What would you do? You'd let them have it.

I hope. So we all have interface. Here at Moody, you have interfacing with students from different cultures every day. I mean, you walk by them in a hallway and all that. And you can't get to know a thousand people and you can't have friendships with a thousand people. But when you have opportunity, if you saw somebody standing there or sitting there, you'd meet them in the cafeteria.

It's by themselves. They're a different culture from you rather than trying to find your group. Why not just sit down with them and start having a conversation? You know, what's your name?

Where are you from? All friendships begin with conversations. We never have a friendship without conversations. If you treat them as you would treat a friend, and you never know where the friendship's going. Neither one of us knew we would have a 50-plus year friendship when we first started.

But you never know where it will lead. But at any rate, you're opening yourself up and you're treating people as though you would treat a friend. So I would encourage you to utilize the opportunities that are on campus for that and then also opportunities you have in your practical Christian service work that you do in the community because there's just opportunities all the time to begin to interface with people from a different culture or a different race.

You know, as you were talking, I was thinking, I majored in history in college and we had to take a course called historiography. It said the more you learn about other people, the more you learn about yourself. So I think it's really important we do that, especially those who want to be missions where we're international or across the street. And so as you learn about God's people, and I think all God's people are kind of amazing, and so we take time to learn from them, we get blessed as well.

But I think when we do those kind of things, it puts a smile on God's heart. And this picture back up here, my daughter put this part of a poster because a couple weeks ago her grandfather came to speak. She was trying to raise funds.

She works with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And so on his own dime he comes out to Colorado Springs and we speak together for two nights because she said, that's my grandpa. People come out to hear him speak, and they did. But it's just kind of a neat relationship. And you stayed with us and that was just really kind of cool.

So we had this relationship and people keep saying, well, how did you all get together and stuff like that? And I remember asking you, I think you were in my kitchen years ago, before we wrote that book, what, Choose Greatness? And I said, why did you do all the things you've done for me? And I wanted to give me something profound. And he said, it was the right thing to do. I thought, how deep that was.

And that's kind of what he's all about. I was smiling when I saw your picture up there when you were young and I was young. We were both young, yeah. We wrote this book together, Choose Greatness, which is a book written to young men of any culture from about age 12 to 20. Eleven wise decisions that brave young men make because we're losing far too many young men before they get to be 18 because of the decisions they make. And we're trying to help them make wise decisions in those years that are going to impact the rest of their lives. And that's another thing about friendship is that you do learn how to do things together.

It's been a wonderful experience for each one of us. Say a word about colorblindness because I hear a lot of people say, well, I'm colorblind. Well, you know, when we were writing the book, I actually asked a friend, she's an African American female, a really great writer. And we had written this chapter on being colorblind, but someplace else in the book we talked about it.

And she got really upset. And it really kind of blew me away. And it helped me remember that no one person of any particular race can speak for all people of a particular race. But the thing about being colorblind, when you say that particular person of color, they often are like, this is what she said, it makes me feel invisible when they say that. And the reality of it, when I do diversity consulting for organizations, somebody in the very first session will always yell out, well, I'm just colorblind. And I say, oh, okay. And I'll ask, what color is your shirt? And they say blue or green.

I say, well, time out. I thought you were colorblind. But what they really want to say is I don't let color get in the way, but even that's not a great answer, because God created us differently and he didn't make any mistakes.

And so when we say colorblind, we need to know what color you're talking about or is everybody the same. And God is about diversity. He really is a God of diversity and we need to embrace that. It's kind of like the spiritual gifts.

You know, nobody has it all together by themselves, but together we have it all. So we need to look at that from God's perspective and what we can learn. So I think it's important that that's not a really great word to use as far as colorblind. Yeah. And, you know, we're not just talking about a black-white issue. We're talking about cultural differences.

Yeah. Our book really talks about it. We delve into Hispanic, First Nation people or American Indians, Latinos as well. So it's not just the black-white book, Asian.

So I think a book you'll find very helpful. You know, we're all walking on the same road toward heaven. A lot of my friends at my age are already there. And when we get there, it's going to be every nation and every race and every culture. So why not on the road do we get to know each other here and spend more time cross-culturally with each other and share our lives with each other because that's a part of discipleship is we're sharing our walk with God with each other.

And if you're a Christian, you're going to talk about God along the way because our deepest desire is that people will come to know Christ and come into the family and then grow in becoming like Christ because that's God's objective. Do you think about the difference in the people that Jesus chose to be his disciples? I mean, they were all Jewish, so they had that culture in the same way. But you know, you had those four fishermen and you had Matthew, a tax collector. The Jews didn't like people. They're Jewish people who were tax collectors for the Roman government.

And you have Peter. He was a zealot. He wanted to defeat Rome. He chose a lot of different people. And yet spent time with them, developed a relationship with them.

And they, in turn, went out and spread the gospel all over. And I think one other thing, too. When you're dealing with cross-culture, whatever, you have to get rid of the fear factor. Where fear is present, faith is absent.

And so keep that in mind. And I think we need to learn how to do that and build those relationships because the reality of it is, if God made us all like he did, then we all need each other. And there's an aspect we miss, this whole idea of interdependency, because God created someone else who's different from me. I actually need that person if he has that person walking across in my life.

And they may actually bless me more than I can imagine. So again, get rid of the fear factor. Learn about people who are different.

Learn about what they study and like. We used to take study about the kingdom of the cults, different religions, so we could actually share the gospel with them. And so now we're getting to a place where we don't really understand what difference is, and we're afraid of difference, and so we don't study it.

And I think Satan loves that because we hinder ourselves and we share the gospel less and less because that fear kind of dominates us. And I think also, and I alluded to this earlier, we have to learn to apologize when we inadvertently say something or do something, you know, like I did with James and called him a boy. We need to apologize, you know, because we're not perfect. None of us are perfect. And when you're talking to people of a different culture, because you are culturally different, you're going to stumble sometimes, and you're going to offend them and not even realize it. And if you do get offended while you're building a relationship, be sure and tell the other person, you know, how that affected you, what it brought to your mind, because they probably don't have any idea.

They can't apologize for something they don't know that they did that was not helpful. Yeah, and a lot of times when we tell why they did offend us or why it's first, we learn about each other. We learn from each other. You know, when you share with us your perspective, we had no idea. You know, we just knew what we knew based on our experience, what our dads were going through. So I think those things are important.

But that's how you grow, and that's how you build friendships. When we were writing this book, I called a pastor friend of mine who's been in the ministry for 30 years. I said, tell me, you have a close friend who's a pastor of a different race or culture? He said, yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. He said, I have two.

I said, how did it happen? He said, well, they held a meeting in our county with black and white pastors or any pastor of any culture to come together. We sat around tables for lunch, and we shared our names and so forth with each other and had a little talk with each other. When it was all over, I just said to myself, you know, I can't get to know everybody, but I'm going to get... He asked two people, give me your phone number. So I just called him and started having lunch with him every once in a while. He said, I'm close friends. So when there was a real tragic thing in our country that happened with, you know, killing and so forth, he said, I call them freelance.

Hey, man, tell me, how are your people responding to this? He said, I would never have done that if I hadn't built that little friendship with them. So I was in Chick-fil-A. I don't remember what city it was.

I was by myself. I noticed there was an African American gentleman. He looked like a businessman.

He had a business suit on. I went up to him before I left. I said, excuse me. He said, I'm working on doing some research on cross-cultural friendships. I said, could I ask you a personal question?

He said, sure. I said, do you have a close personal friend of a different race or culture? And he thought a moment and he said, I don't have a close personal friend of my own race. And you know what I've discovered?

There's a whole lot of men in this country who don't have a close personal friend of their own race. And that's tragic. So I want to challenge you. You're young.

You've got a life to live. I want to challenge you. Process this in your own mind and ask God to show you if in the present context you can begin to reach out and touch the lives of people who are different from you.

Okay? And I want to say it again. What if every Christian in this country had at least one close personal friend of a different race or culture?

I think we could greatly impact our country. Our time is gone. Our time is gone. Can I pray?

Yeah. Father, thank you for the opportunity to share. Thank you for Moody Bible Institute and the impact it had on my own life when I came here many years ago. Thank you, Father, for every student who's here today. I know you know all of us as individuals, and I pray that your spirit will touch their spirit and give them wisdom on how to apply what we've talked about today. May our lives be different because we sit together for these moments. In the name of Christ, amen. Amen.

Thank you. I made some notes as I listened to you two speaking to the students of Moody Bible Institute. And one of the things that I picked up from you, Clarence, is if you avoid conflict, you avoid reality.

And this is an opportunity. Conflict can be an opportunity for God to work. Talk a little bit more about that. Well, it comes from my understanding of marriage that most married couples have some conflict. And because they're married and committed to the Lord and each other, they can't run away from the conflict.

They eventually have to deal with it. And once you learn how to work through conflict, which seems to be normal and natural and a part of life, it can actually build intimacy. You actually become closer when you learn how to handle it correctly. So conflict we shouldn't avoid, but how we handle conflict can really be critical. And when Gary and I had conflict and James about the word boy, instead of running away from it, he could have dropped us off and said, I'm disappointed in you guys, or I didn't mean anything by it and be mad and just left us because we haven't been in a relationship.

But instead, he had patience, he had foresight. He said, I need to hear their perspective. And then he wanted to hear his perspective. So I think conflict is when you hear the other person's perspective and learn from it and then work through it. And we learn something about each other. We learn to really care about each other. And for James and me, it was so monumental that this grown man would sit down of a different culture and treat us as equals, and he'd listen to us.

And that was just, that was huge. So I think when we run from conflict, we miss out on all this stuff. And it seems like, Gary, what happened there is you could have done that, you could have responded that way, but you saw them, you valued them enough to go into those choppy waters that you may not have wanted to go into, but you did it anyway, right? Yeah, I think we don't ever anticipate a particular conflict.

It's just, it happens. You know, when you say something that the other person takes in one way, you meant it in another way, the answer is not to defend yourself. You know, I didn't mean that. The answer is to hear them out because they're feeling it and they're feeling it strongly. And I didn't understand it because it's not a part of my culture. So I think if we allow the conflicts to bring it to an end and say, well, you know, they don't understand me, I don't understand them, and we just walk away, we will not build cross-cultural friendships. We have to listen when the person expresses that they've been hurt or that something we did, you know, is interpreted one way when we meant it another way.

It's, Clarence is right, it's the same principle that's in a marriage. You have to listen, listen, listen, and try to hear and see it from their side. And then you understand it. Now you can affirm, you know, what they're feeling. And then they're likely to listen, as they did, to my side of the story because I saw it a totally different way. And now that I understand them and I affirm them, they heard what I was saying.

I mentioned that. That's where the tears I heard emotion in your voice when you said what James said about the boy, you know. And that was a visceral thing for you way back there that you still remember, don't you? Absolutely, absolutely, very, very clearly.

I can see James in my mind right now, raring back and making that statement. But here's the thing. There's maybe somebody listening today and you've had that kind of conflict with somebody else and you've felt the tension and it's like you want to run from that. I think a lot of people define Christianity as God paves the way and everything's good and everything's fine. They think marriage is the same way and you start having conflict and then you run the other way. But you can go deeper if you will wade into that and listen well, which is what, Clarence, you said at the beginning, using that Genesis verse about the value and the purpose and the godly destiny, if you look at not only the friends and the Christians around you that way, but if you see everyone that they have value and purpose and a destiny, it'll change the way you live, won't it? It really will because when you do that, you treat everybody with respect. And so I just try when I see people, I just try and say something, do something encouraging, no matter what walk of life they're in. If people are cleaning the bathroom, I say, hey, thanks so much for your service. And I call them sir or ma'am and most people respond positive to that.

They look at you like, wow, and they go like, well, thank you, you know, because a lot of times they don't get thanks. So, yeah, I think if we try and love people, which I'm learning, like God does, then we encourage people. People are better off because we've walked across their path because we're walking with God.

Yeah. You asked the question twice, Gary, what if every Christian had a close personal friend who is of a different race or different cultural background? That is what you wanted to turn to our listeners today and say. Talk more about that. Yes, that's why Clarence and I wrote this book on cross-cultural friendships.

We really wanted to challenge Christians to seriously think and pray about developing a relationship with someone of a different race or culture. And many people would say, do you know George? Oh, yeah, he's a friend of mine. He works at our place, you know. But they don't know anything about George except his name.

They don't have a relationship. They're being polite to each other. And we want to see people go beyond being polite and really get to know each other and get to know their family and, you know, dig into life together. And we really believe it would make a huge difference in our culture if Christians took the lead in this. We're motivated by our understanding of God and God's view of people. Non-Christians don't necessarily have that view.

And so if anyone should be doing this, it is Christians. And that's why we address this particular book to Christians because we want to take the lead in building cross-cultural friendships. One of the real connections in the room that I noticed was, Clarence, when you started talking about the topic of colorblind. And it seemed to me the students were leaning a little closer to you and that word invisible, that when you say, oh, I'm just colorblind, that people feel like you don't see them, that they're invisible.

Talk more about that. Well, a lot of times that term is stated by the majority culture in America. And most of the time, a lot of times the intention is really good. And they're trying to say from their perspective that nothing affects the way I'm going to treat you. But when they say colorblind, people of color, because of their experience a lot of times, will feel like you are saying I'm invisible, you don't see me. You don't see me as a unique creature created by God. Or if you're colorblind, what color are you seeing?

But it doesn't seem to be me. And then so often the majority of people say I'm colorblind and actually aren't. And so they're saying something that's not true to try and justify a reason. So as opposed to accept, hey, we're different, God made us different, we need to embrace that. It's the same principle in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where he said we shouldn't all be an eye, we shouldn't all be an ear, that we are different because what God is doing in that part, he's creating an interdependency and serving one another, which glorifies him.

So that's why colorblind is just really typically not the best term to use, or even the best mindset. It can come off, you know, what we're talking about, this message can come off as the quote-unquote white savior complex. You know, Gary Chapman, the white guy who befriends the black guy and brings the cultures together, and he does all of this, and it's Gary, give, give, give. But I know that's not in your heart, Gary, because I believe you have received as much, if not more, from Clarence as you have, you know, given input into his life. Do you agree with that? Absolutely, Chris. You know, some people have said, or Clarence has said sometimes, you know, about me, you said Gary was really courageous that first night when we walked into that gymnasium, you know, and I'm thinking, wait a minute, Clarence was the one that was courageous.

Can you imagine two black guys walking into a room with a hundred white kids in a white church? Yeah. No, it takes courage on both parts to risk, you know, that something might go wrong here.

We don't know. But I think we're both winners when you build friendships. Both of us are winners because you're there for each other. You can reach out to each other anytime about anything to ask questions and, you know, what's your perspective on this, help me understand this.

It's just wonderful to have that kind of friendship across cultural lines. Clarence, I hear Gary and you talking and have listened to this message today, and I hear hope in your voices. And it's not hope in, we're just going to have a conference or we're going to give people a script to read so that they can do this.

It is a micro to the macro. It's a one-on-one, it's a building friendships, Building Relationships one-on-one that's going to bring that kind of change that we really want to happen. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I think that's why the whole thought of, you know, one relationship at a time, I don't think it would be a mass movement because I think to have these kind of relationships, it takes time and prayer and working through those things. And, you know, someone asked me, are you and Gary closer now than you've ever been? I said, I actually really are. I said, when we wrote this book, I always felt close to him, but we've gone through a lot of different things and I'm much closer now than ever before. And I just get blessed by hanging out with him. And so I'm blessed that he gets blessed by me hanging out with him. I don't know he gets out of hanging out with me, but it's just, he's family. I mean, there was a wedding this summer, and he said, somebody's getting married, he said, you need to be here.

And that was kind of the end of the discussion. And then when I got there, everybody kind of knew me because of what everybody said. But it was just, it was the right thing and right place to do, thing to do. And so I just think, and I think of my daughters, how much they love Gary, and he has graciously, and Derek and Shelly have graciously shared him, and he's their grandfather.

And they love him passionately. So it's just, for us, it's been a win-win. I love the story of the grandbaby, Gary, you in the cafeteria. It was hilarious, it was hilarious. And I could just see Carolyn coming over to you, Clarence, and say, you know, this is Gary, come on.

Yeah, she was so cool, she was so very cool. Well, I can't thank you two enough for sharing your lives with us. Not only on the page, but also what we've heard here, the genuine, the care and the concern and the compassion that you both have for each other is just, it reminds me of what you say, Gary, about people who have troubled marriages. If you don't have hope right now, hang on to what I have. I feel that same thing about what you've shared today.

Well, that's our desire, you know. And we know that close personal friendships across racial and cultural lines has a tremendous positive impact on the individuals and consequently on the culture at large if a number of people are doing that. So, yeah, we have great hope that this book, this radio program, will encourage somebody to take the first step in thinking along these lines. Well, what an encouraging conversation today. And if you want to find out more about our featured resource, go to buildingrelationships.us. The title of the book by Dr. Chapman and Dr. Schuler is Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships.

You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. And next week, how an abandoned baby calls one person to say yes to God. Don't miss a program of hope in one week. Before we go, let me thank our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. And special thanks to Jacob Varvara. 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 / 2024-06-08 02:24:25 / 2024-06-08 02:49:35 / 25

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