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Chris Singleton: Your Life Matters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 4, 2022 3:00 am

Chris Singleton: Your Life Matters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 4, 2022 3:00 am

Could celebrating each child's unique image of God help heal racial division? Speaker Chris Singleton discusses his new children's book, Your Life Matters.

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I do this.

I want to know if you do this. Like, when you're sitting in a mall or maybe in an airport or somewhere where there's a bunch of people walking by and you're just sort of sitting there, do you ever find yourself judging people? No, I don't think I judge them.

You're just, like, perfect, aren't you? No, but I was saying, like, you know what I do because people walk by and I create these stories of their lives. Yeah, and I'm calling it judging, but I'm like, I will make judgments about people that I don't know based on how they're walking, what they're wearing, if I can hear them talking, what they're talking about. I mean, it's terrible, but I'm finding that I'm like, I think I judge them. Yeah, I think we as people do that.

We judge one another not knowing their background or their story. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So today we want to talk a little bit about how do we see the image of God in everyone, those that are similar to us, those that are different, some that we might judge without even knowing in a negative way? How do we have the eyes of God to see people the way God sees them?

They're image bearers of our King, and they should be celebrated rather than judged. So we've got Chris Singleton back in the studio at Family Life Today. Welcome back to Family Life Today, Chris. Thank you, man.

Glad to be back. Yeah, you're smiling over there because you wrote a book about this. It's called Different, and it's really written for children. But I read it, and I'm telling you right now.

It's really good. Yeah, I was going to say this may be a children's book, but every adult needs to read it because you can tell us what your goal and your purpose was, but I'm guessing it sort of relates to what we're just talking about, right? Absolutely, man. So I would travel around speaking to schools, high schools, companies, and churches, but I never felt safe talking with little kids.

I said, man, I got such a sad story. I don't want to take away their innocence, right? So how do I get the same message of loving people across the kids? And one of the biggest things that we forget is that so many things we don't choose in our lives. We forget that sometimes. Just thinking about it, we don't choose our names most of the time. We're given our names.

We don't choose where we're born, who we're born to. We even think, man, why do we like this certain type of music? Maybe because we heard it growing up or maybe because when we finally heard it for the first time, we experienced the new music.

Like, man, this experience is amazing. So I just try to remind people of that. But with kids, I said, how do I do that?

And this children's book came about. Remind our listeners a little bit. You just said you come from a sad story and you don't want to tell the kids that. So tell us in a minute or two a little bit about what's this story. Unfortunately, I lost my mom in the Mother Emanuel AME church shooting on June 17th, 2015.

She was one of nine victims that lost their life to a guy that wanted to start a race for in this country. And following that, I had this mission of unity. How can I unite people? Even though we're different, even though some of us speak different languages, how can we come together? And that's remembering that we serve one God and one king and that we're also all made in the image of them.

So that's one thing we can do. I said, well, how can I do that with kids? And that's where this book came about. And one of the things that I do with my story to honor my mom, I put my mom in every single children's book that I write.

In some way, somehow she was an educator. My mom read books to me growing up and I didn't even realize how lucky I was as a kid to have my mom reading to me. So many kids don't have that, but that's when I wrote this book. And my favorite page, I'm going to read my favorite page if you don't mind. No, I'd love to hear it. Do you think we should have a little background of what's happening in this story before you read this page?

Well, I thought you were going to say background music. Well, yeah, this book is about a kid named Obina coming from Nigeria and Obina gets to the States and he gets to Charleston where I'm from. And he's picked on a little bit because he's different, right? He's wearing different clothes.

He's got different hair. And so kids are making fun of him. But in the end, obviously they celebrate Obina. They celebrate his differences. But in this part, I put my mom in this specific scene because this is something she said to me. And Obina's sad. People are talking about him.

He throws off his dashiki, his traditional clothing. Ms. Sharonda handed him a tissue and her eyes were soft. The kind of eyes that seem to know exactly what you're feeling without you having to say a word. They sat in silence for a long time. Then, never be ashamed of who you are, Obina, Ms. Sharonda said. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. That's my favorite part of the whole book. My mom used to pray for us when we were sleeping. She'd come in our room and she'd pray over us and let us know that we're beautifully and wonderfully made and fearfully and wonderfully made. I want to definitely put that in this story to honor my mom and her memory. Now, as your mom told you that, you know, as a young little boy, was it something you believed or was it something you had to walk through, struggle to believe?

No, it was good. I think when your parents are building you up every single day, you kind of have a certain level of confidence, right? And so for me, I'm a dark skinned kid. And so like every kid, we get picked on because of something. So people would say things about me being dark skinned and stuff like that. But it's in one ear out the other ear.

Why? Because my mom is telling me I'm beautifully and wonderfully made. And I think it's beautiful when parents are building their kids up every single day. And when a kid goes to school and they hear something like, ah, that's funny. But, you know, my mom and dad tell me, hey, I'm made in the image of God. I'm made in the image of our Lord and Savior.

So, yes, it's cool. It's a little joke, but I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. The whole thing just makes me cry.

Don't look it over. She's tearing up. I mean, the fact that you put your mom in every one of your books, the foundation that she gave you to tell you every day and praying for you, reading books to you, talking about Jesus to you. As a mom and a dad, I think often we wonder, do they hear us? You know, because you have two little boys, Chris, that are four and a seven month old. But they're squirming around. You know, they're messing around.

They're throwing things around. And you wonder, like, do they hear me? Your life is basically saying, I heard my mom.

Not only did I hear her, I watched her and I want to bring honor to her. Because what you're saying, I think as parents, that was my greatest fear. Will they understand that they were made in the image of God, that He loves them, that He sees them, that He celebrates them? And I love your story because it reminds us as parents, it's like, yes, they hear us. We might have to say it a million times, but that is the foundation. You're probably saying that to your boys now. I am. I am. You know, my son, CJ, he's a kind of kid that would jump off of anything, just doesn't care if he gets hurt. So I got to wind him down.

I got to pull him back. But even him, man, I just want to let him know because my wife's from Brazil. And she speaks Portuguese at home with our kids. She wants them to learn her native language and grandma. So you get kids bilingual already?

Yeah. But at first though, he wasn't saying anything. I'm speaking English because daddy's still trying to figure that thing out. I'm still trying to figure out Portuguese. It's a tough language.

So I'm learning it. And my wife's speaking Portuguese. Grandma's speaking Portuguese.

So my son wouldn't say anything. And I'm thinking, man, I'm nervous. Is his language okay? But everybody's saying, hey, he's learning both languages.

Chris, that's why he's a little bit delayed. And so I'm nervous. He goes to daycare. All the other kids are talking and my son's getting made fun of. That's what I'm thinking in my head because he can't say anything yet. And for me to just pour into him and let him know that, hey, you're beautifully, wonderfully made.

The same thing my mom told me. Hopefully it stuck with him. Now he talks way too much in both languages. So I'm grateful that he's able to speak. But that's always a fear that I had.

But just instilling it into him, let him know whose image he's made into. I think that's very important in every single child's development. How important do you feel like it was for you when you lost your mom in a terrible way to lose your mother? And you've lost your dad as well now.

The foundation of understanding your identity, pro athlete's identity often is connected to what they do and they don't know who they are after or when they can't do that anymore. You lose your mom, you lose your dad. Was that foundation of your identity in Christ and understanding you're beautifully and wonderfully made? You heard that your whole life from your mom. Was that a foundation for you to be able to go forward?

It definitely was. But I'm such a believer in you got to find it for yourself as well, right? So your parents can lead you to the water your whole life.

If you're not drinking it, then what's going to happen? So for me, my mom was always instilling these things into me. And sometimes you never know when you're going to need those things your mom and dad was talking about.

You know, when your pastor's telling you this from four years ago, they talked about it in the sports way. So it stuck with you. All of a sudden you go through something you're like, man, I remember what my pastor said four years ago or so. So I think it was definitely important that they instilled it into me, but I had to have that personal relationship myself. And that's when things finally started to click for me and a lot of stuff that wasn't making sense. It finally started to make a little bit more sense for me in my life. I'm just thinking about you.

You're traveling a lot. You're speaking to businessmen, businesswomen. You're speaking at schools, high schools, middle school, elementary schools. And your message is about unity. Would you say that's the core message? That is a message.

How we can live together in harmony. Yeah, that's the message. Do you read your book to elementary school kids? I do. Absolutely. And what's the response like?

It's a great response. You know, we have fun when I go to elementary schools. I get all the kids jumping up and down and smiling.

The coolest thing that I do, though, is at the end of the story there's discussion questions and I ask them, hey, what makes you different? We're going to celebrate. The whole school is going to celebrate what makes you different right now. And so you'll have kids come up and say, you know what, Mr. Singleton, I've actually got six fingers. And instead of everybody laughing at this kid, we all celebrate him for being different, right? This other girl will say, hey, you know what, I've got a lazy eye.

It's up for me to see out of this one eye. Instead of laughing at it, we'll celebrate them because they're different. So do you guys cheer?

We do. We do something called a unity clap. And so I call it a unity clap.

Oh, I watched it. Yeah, we clap twice in unison, right? If we do it together, it's more powerful. So we'll have kids saying, hey, my mom's from this place. My dad's from this place.

Some people say, you know what, I don't have a dad. That's what makes me different. And we'll celebrate it instead of that kid feeling like, man, I'm getting beat up because I'm different or whatever it may be. We celebrate it.

And it is a fantastic time. Sometimes I have teachers saying, you know what makes me different? I've got webbed toes.

And I never told anybody, but today I'm going to tell the school that I've got webbed toes. So it is a beautiful thing that we celebrate everybody when we do this in the schools. Yeah, I watched him do it, I don't know where you were, with a bunch of elementary kids. I mean, it looked like hundreds of them.

And you even got on them when they did Unity Clap in unison. You're like, oh, let's do that again. You know you can do better. Help us understand. Okay, so when I grow up and I'm an adult and I sit in a mall or an airport and I judge people, people I don't even know.

And again, I'm sort of having fun with that. I don't really think. But there are times when, because people are different than us, we don't understand. We don't know their history. We don't know their culture. We judge and we build a wall rather than jump through that wall or build a bridge.

Help us understand how we celebrate somebody that is different. This is a great example of how I teach it. For me, I always say share your story before your stance.

So when you share your story before whatever it is that you stand on, people usually understand why you stand where you do. So when I tell my story of losing my mom the way that I did, she was shot while she was praying, unfortunately. And so when I tell somebody, I don't really like guns too much.

I'll probably never have one myself. Most people say, you know what, I understand why Chris doesn't. He doesn't like it because his mom was shot and killed while she was praying. But on the flip side, if somebody tells me, hey, I've grown up hunting my whole life. You know, my grandmother, my grandfather had a gun and grandmother had a gun next to them on the bed while they slept. It was just normal for us. I've gone hunting every single year, quail hunting, you know, pheasant hunting or deer hunting or bear hunting.

Didn't know that was a thing until recently. But when somebody says, Chris, I love guns, after they tell me why or their story, I can understand just as well. And most times when we see somebody that's different, we hear their stance and we say, you know what, I could never agree with this person. Well, you probably could agree to disagree if you understood their story. And that is how I teach how we can come together and still believe in what we believe in.

You don't have to change your heart, but we have so much division because we don't know everybody's story behind their stance. And when we do, that's when we can say, you know what, I understand why they think the way they do, even though that's not what I believe. I know with the Detroit Lions Bible study that I led with their wives, I made a point as we started doing it longer and longer to hear each other's stories. Because then you really do understand one another and not only do we hear each other's stories, but then the parts of the story that we are wounded and things have happened, when we listen, we start praying like, Lord, how can I encourage this person? And so after the person has shared their story, we'll speak life, that's the way I call it, speak life into the person of like, man, I'm so sorry that happened to you. I'm so sorry you've gone through this. Here's some of the things I see in your life of the way you've overcome that is miraculous.

Or maybe they're still in it, but just to surround them and then at the end, we'll just lay hands on that person and pray for them. It's one of the, like, it binds us together. Our hearts are connected when you hear one another's stories. I can remember sitting in the college locker room, our football locker room, and I remember there was a kid on our team from the inner city of Cincinnati. This is, I'm playing in Ball State in Indiana, and I love this guy, but I thought we are so different.

We're nothing alike. He was a black guy, I'm a white guy, he's from the inner city, I'm from the, just all these differences. And I'll never forget, one day we ended up in the locker room together, most everybody had left, and I'm sitting right beside him. And I didn't even plan to do this, but I just said, hey, dude, so, you know, tell me about your family, tell me your story. And as he started to talk about his family, I was sitting there going, oh my goodness, we are almost twins.

You know, in terms of like, his dad was an alcoholic, walked out when he was like a little boy, mom and dad got divorced, there was abuse, there was different things in his family. I'm like, and he looked at me and he goes, so what's your story? I go, uh, it's the same story. He goes, no, it didn't, dude, what are you talking about? You're from, you know, Ohio and dah, dah, dah, you had this family.

I go, dad walked out when I was seven, he was an alcoholic, there was abuse. And it just gave me a love for him and he for me, because we were different, but we weren't. It was like, we've got the same story. And I never would have known that if I wouldn't have taken the moment to say, just what you said, Chris, you know, tell me your story. It was like, wow, there's more in common here than there is different. Absolutely.

And God wanted us to build it. Is that part of the way you learn to love somebody you don't even know? Man, you know what? I've recognized that going through pain and struggle is universal, right? In the good book, it says, consider it pure joy when you face those trials, not if we face those trials. And so I know we're all going to face trials.

Some people it happens when they're 12, like my brother, some people it happens when they're 42, right? It's just different times. We're going to face them. But the way that we come together is getting each other through those times. And I love that you mentioned that about your college teammate, just because so often we look at somebody, we say, you know, this person's never been through anything. You know, oh, they live there. They have this or have that. Well, struggle and pain is universal in different countries, different places, even here in the States.

It's universal. And I loved what you said about us speaking life into people. The reason why I love that so much is because when my mom was killed, so many people were praying for us. And some people, you know, I know sometimes people say, I'm praying for you.

They may never even pray. They just say that it's a nice thing to say, but I genuinely believe in the power of prayer. And if people are actually praying for somebody, I think it does wonders, right? I believe in prayer so much. And so before I even say it, you know, I'm praying for you. I'll say prayers. The prayer has already been sent.

That's how much I care about you. The prayer has already been sent. I just remember back when I lost my mom, people were sending us prayer blankets and all these quilts and saying, I'm praying for you all the time. And it genuinely gave me strength to know that people were in my corner praying for me. So thank you for doing that. And hopefully everybody listening is doing that just as well. Well, the other thing I think too, when I was younger, I used to say that to somebody, hey, I will be praying for you.

And as I got older, I thought, man, sometimes I just forget. You walk away and you forget to pray. And so what I've tried to do now is just pray for somebody right there on the spot.

Yes. You know, it can take not even a minute. It could take 30 seconds. I did it with an Uber driver not too long ago where she shared me what's going on. I'm like, I'm going to be praying for you. Would you mind if I just prayed for you right now? And when I was done, she's crying because there's power in that. And the fact that somebody would take the time to actually pray words over you of blessing and even comfort of saying, Lord, this must be so hard to have gone through, but thank you that you're there.

I know that, you know, being her husband for 41 years, she is telling you the truth. Everywhere we go, it could be in an airport, Uber driver, our neighborhood. I am not exaggerating. She prays for people right there and speaks life to total strangers. Trust me, there's times like, can we just go now? Do you really have to walk over to that person? And it's amazing to watch the person, usually a stranger, their face lights up. You can tell maybe nobody's ever done this. And if they have, it's been years. Just that moment of looking somebody in the eye, listening long enough to know a little bit of their story, praying for them and then blessing them with your words, it's unbelievable to watch their countenance change. They may go from the worst day of their life to one of their best watching my wife.

She's like an angel. I'm not, but it's kind of just seeing people. I was in the airport. Dave, you weren't with me. This is just a few weeks ago where, it makes me teary thinking of this. There's a woman on the train going to baggage and she was noticeably upset. And so she was probably in her sixties and I just asked her, are you okay? And she started to cry and she said, this is my first trip that I've been on without my husband.

He just passed away recently and I've realized I've never paid attention in the airport because I've always followed my husband and I don't even know where I'm going. And so I just prayed for her real quick. I just said, that's gotta be so hard.

I walked her to the car to meet her daughter, but it was just, if we could just see each other and notice each other when we are going through pain. Man, I always heard this as an athlete and a lot of athletes say stuff like this, but they would say, praying moms and praying grandmas keep the world going around. Right? And so when I hear that, I just think that's so true. I think about my mother and how much of a prayer warrior she was.

So keep doing that because we need more of that going around for sure. I know that as a pastor and a preacher for 30 years, one of the things I tried to say often in a sermon many times a year was this thought. And I got it from another preacher decades ago when I heard him talk about, you know, we often label people with a number. Like, oh, you know, even athletes, we do it, man, that guy's 10. That guy's a five or six, you know?

And he said this, I'll never forget. He said, you have never looked at a person ever in your life who God doesn't say is a 10. Every person you see is a 10 to God.

They are image bearers. They're made in the image of God. You've never once laid your eyes on a person that doesn't matter to God.

And if we remembered that, it's your core message, isn't it, Chris? It's like, how do you go from hate to love? They're loved by God. And if I'm a lover of God, I will love them. Whether I agree, it doesn't matter.

Yeah, you have to. Especially, I feel like as believers, man, in my mind, as believers, it's our duty to love people. That's what we're supposed to be doing.

If not us, then who? Yeah, I love that. That's David Ann Wilson with Chris Singleton on Family Life Today.

Stick around. You'll want to hear Ann's encouraging words to Chris in just a second. But first, Chris has written a children's book called Your Life Matters. And you can get a copy at or by giving us a call at 800-358-6329.

That's 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Okay, look, I get it. Some people aren't the biggest fans of the kind of decorations that start going up this time of year.

I understand. But what if you could share the gospel while carving out a pumpkin? Well, you can with Family Life's latest free resource. It's called Gospel in a Pumpkin. It's a free download with activities, pumpkin face stencil sheets, and a guided script to help your kids learn about what matters most while you carve your jack-o-lanterns.

It's a great chance to shine some light in the darkness this season. You can download Gospel in a Pumpkin for free today at And you know, resources like this are only made available because of like-minded, dedicated partners like you. You can give and help families this week at or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that's 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Okay, now back to Ann and some encouraging words for Chris Singleton as she reflects on his story. Let me just say this to you, Chris. Well done. Like I look over at you and think, if one of my sons, if I had been shot by someone that was trying to create strife racially, and if I was shot and killed at a Bible study praying, if one of my sons would take on this mantle of thinking, I not only have forgiven my mom's shooter, but now I want to spread a message of love and unity to the world and travel around and let people know God loves them, God has made them in His image and He has a plan for them, I would be ecstatic knowing that one of my sons would have done that. Your wife must be so incredibly proud of you. You're a man of integrity, your maturity is beyond your age at 25 years old, and what you're doing is blessing so many people, and you are bringing unity to our country. So thank you for all that you've done. Well done. Yeah, well done. Thank you.

You could be an angry man and you're a blessing everywhere you go. Appreciate that. That's a choice. That's the mission, so thank you. And tomorrow on Family Life Today, Dave and Ann Wilson are joined by Ron Deal. They'll listen and respond to Mike and Kim Anderson's gut-wrenching story of losing their child to her biological father's control, a broken marriage, and of a hope lost and then found again. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-27 02:01:03 / 2022-12-27 02:12:37 / 12

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