Recently, a young man (9 years old), won an oratory competition in which he declared, “I may not look like Dr. King but I believe like Dr. King!” Wesley Stoker is a minister’s son from Dallas, TX and recently had the chance to participate in the 26th annual Gardere Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. He took the stage fearlessly, the only white student among the finalists, and ended up winning the competition, much to his and his fellow competitors delight (see picture in article)
The Washington Post reports that during his speech, Wesley said the following:
“Dr. King was a minister’s son, and I am a minister’s son as well. I can only imagine that he went to church a lot,” Wesley said, pausing to take a breath and smile.
“We need to see everyone’s inner soul instead of what is on the outside. My dream is that people would stop jumping to conclusions that would lead to quick judgments of others.
I wish that adults could love each other like kids do.”
I have had the blessed opportunity to live in a neighborhood with people from all over the world. My children grew up playing with friends from literally every continent. Our unintentionally multicultural front yard was a rainbow of God’s creation and a incredibly unusual community of multiethnic children.
More than once, we, the adults, marveled at the absolute innocence and acceptance these children bestowed upon one another. It wasn’t that they didn’t “see” color. Of course, they did. And they respected the beauty of each heritage and each nationality represented.
It was just that color wasn’t the defining feature. It wasn’t what defined the person. They were more concerned with whether their friends would share a toy, play a game, laugh with them, run with them, and eat a snack with them.
I remember once a fellow mom shared with me that my daughter and one of her Kenyan friends were having a discussion about hair. My daughter loved her friend’s braids. Her friend loved Naomi’s long blond hair. They both tried to help each other get the hair they wanted. Naomi told her friend to just brush and brush and her hair would be long and smooth. Of course, as adults, we know that just doesn’t work and her poor friend got so frustrated. Naomi was so confused – the brushing worked for her, why not for her friend? Of course, on the other end, Naomi couldn’t grasp the fact that her braids weren’t going to last as long as her friends and they would keep coming out. It just didn’t make sense to them.
Why? Couldn’t they just see it wouldn’t work?
The short answer is no. They simply couldn’t. They just saw a friend, that’s all.
The long answer is, of course, they saw their differences. It was just that the differences seemed so minuscule to them that their friendship was more defining of their relationship and they just assumed their friendship would take care of the rest.
Much like young Wesley who said:
“I wish that all of our differences would be celebrated, and that everyone felt included. I would like to see all people treated equally, feeling important and admired for their deeds. I wish there were no more wars. My dream is that everyone lives in a safe environment, loving and not hating each other. I feel like sometimes people don’t try very hard to befriend people whom are different from themselves, particularly those with different skin color.”
Our children have the ability to see something I think we adults miss far too often. Our children see the image of God in one another. They see humanity. They see the thing that makes each of us a mirror – the reflection of the Creator.
Today our country pauses to remember a man who had a dream “deeply rooted in the American dream… a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
On this day, I look to my children. They have grown up in a way that allows them to live like this. I hope and pray that we don’t steal that away from them.
On this Martin Luther King Day, I look to the children.
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About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed
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