Why can’t people get over talking about race?
Ever heard that line? Or, how about: We live in a post-racial world. We’ve even had a black president!
If racism doesn’t exist, then we don’t have to deal with it. Yet racism, sadly, is alive and well—not just in our culture, but within the church.
On this edition of The Roys Report (TRR), Dr. Lainna Callentine—an educator, pediatrician, and former evangelical faith leader—delivers a powerful talk from our recent Restore Conference.
Lainna has walked an incredibly difficult and painful journey as a Black woman in the evangelical church. This is a journey that white evangelicals often don’t acknowledge. And it’s an experience that Julie Roys, TRR founder and a friend of Lainna’s, admits that she once didn’t believe or affirm.
But, just as Julie’s eyes have been opened to abuse and corruption in the church, the past few years have given her a new awareness of racism in the church, as you’ll hear in Julie’s introduction of Lainna’s talk.
Lainna’s talk, which is rich with history and personal anecdotes, has the power to open the eyes of many others. Please listen with a heart and mind open to what Lainna and the Holy Spirit have to say.
Lainna Callentine, M.D., M.Ed.
Lainna Callentine, M.D., M.Ed., is a pediatrician, former homeschool mother, master’s trained educator, and creator of curriculum program, Sciexperience. Dr. Callentine received her B.A. from Northwestern University and completed her M.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. She has taught all levels from early childhood to postgraduate students. Learn more at sciexperience.com.
Julie Roys, LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D.
Julie Roys 00:04
Why can’t people just get over talking about race? Ever heard that line? Or how about, we live in a post racial world, we even had a black president. Of course, if racism doesn’t exist, then we don’t have to deal with it. But as you’re about to hear racism, sadly is alive and well, not just in our culture, but within the church. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And on this podcast, you’re about to hear a powerful talk from our RESTORE conference by Dr. Lainna CALLENTINE Lainna is a pediatrician and an educator and a former faith leader in the evangelical church. But she’s also a friend of mine who’s walked an incredibly difficult and painful journey as a black woman in the white Evangelical Church. This is a journey that white evangelicals often don’t acknowledge. And as you’ll hear, it’s an experience I once didn’t believe or affirm. But just like I’ve had my eyes opened to abuse and corruption in the church, the past few years have opened my eyes to racism in the church as well. And coming to terms with this reality has been hard because I’ve had to deal with my own ignorance and indifference. And I’ve had to acknowledge my complicity with a sinful system that treats persons of color as less than full bearers of the image of God. But what Lainna did, coming into a predominantly white space and delivering this message was even harder. And I think that’s something I haven’t realized until recently as well. So many of our Black, Hispanic, Asian, and indigenous brothers and sisters have been profoundly wounded and traumatized by white Christians. And they have every reason to expect that when they speak to us, they’ll be minimized, dismissed, and traumatized again. I’m grateful that didn’t happen at RESTORE and I hope like the audience at RESTORE, you’ll open your heart and your mind to receive this important message from Dr. Lainna Callentine on surviving white evangelical racism.
Julie Roys 01:57
But before we hear from Lena, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington if you’re looking for a top ranked Christian University, providing a caring community and an excellent college experience, Judson University is for you. Judson is located on 90 acres just 40 miles west of Chicago in Elgin, Illinois. The school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities, and strong financial aid. Plus, you can take classes online as well as in person. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to JUDSONU.EDU. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Kurt Marquardt are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.COM
Julie Roys 03:01
Well, again, you’re about to hear a talk by Dr. Lainna Callentine on surviving and thriving beyond white evangelical racism. I’ve also included in this podcast a portion of my introduction of Lainna at RESTORE, which includes an important apology. For time sake, I’ve had to remove my description of how my eyes were opened to racism in the church, while investigating what happened at Bethlehem Baptist Church, the Church John Piper pastored for three decades. But I encourage you if you want to understand more about the covert nature of racism in the evangelical church, go back and listen to our two-part podcast on what happened at Bethlehem Baptist Church when you’re finished with Lainna’s talk. But now here’s Lainna’s powerful talk at RESTORE 2023 with a short introduction and apology by me.
Julie Roys 03:49
So, three weeks ago, our next guest and I got together at her request, and we talked for about four hours. And she said, Julie, I just don’t know if I can do this talk. And she said this is what normally happens when I come into a predominantly white audience, and I talk about the trauma I’ve experienced as an African American woman in the church. So, I go out there and I bleed, I bare my soul, and then they look at me with eyes of disbelief., and they just go on their way. And I mostly listened because I really didn’t have a lot to say, and I just needed to hear. And then she reminded me about how we had gotten together because our next guest is a friend of mine. In fact, she was my daughter’s 11th grade biology teacher. And she reminded me of a time we got together in a coffee house, and she shared her, really bared her soul to me, about all the racism that she had experienced. And she said, Julie, I didn’t feel like you believed me either. And the truth is six, seven, however, many years ago, this was I didn’t really believe it. I mean, I believe there was probably some racism in the church. It really wasn’t until I did the investigation on Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper’s church, and I got to know these people who had persons of color that had gotten together, had a dinner for the first time where it was just them. And they shared some of their experiences. And out of that, they decided that they wanted to put together a committee and address why is it that we have so few persons of color on our elder board? And then what happened with this committee is that then they spent, I forget how many months, a lot of months working on this, and then they gave their findings. And you know, it’s kind of death in committee. They gave their findings, that was it, nothing happened. Every single member of that committee ended up leaving the church.
Julie Roys 06:22
And so, it kind of opened my eyes to how this is done. And it’s kind of a covert thing. And I had to say to Lainna, you know what? I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t see that. And I’m sure that hurt you. And that was wrong of me. And I also told her that you guys are different. And when you’ve had enough bad experiences with white people, it’s hard to say this group is different. But I said, one, this group knows about believing victims, about believing survivors, and believing their stories. And we also know that when you get up and you bleed, when you tell your story, we get the cost. It’s like re traumatizing. And if you’re going to do that, and nothing’s going to happen. It’s like it happened again. Right? And so, I know you guys, I believe in you guys, or I wouldn’t have asked my friend to come, who I care about deeply. And It’s my prayer that this will be a healing experience for all of us. But especially for persons of color who have been hurt profoundly in the church. Just to tell you a little bit about Lainna’s credentials. She’s a pediatrician, who completed her MD at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. She’s also a former homeschool mother, Master’s trained educator, a creative curriculum program called SCI Experience. And then she served on a whole bunch of different Christian organizations that we would recognize, although she said to make sure that I say she was the former, or formerly served on the Physician Resource Council at Focus on the Family. But I love Lainna dearly. And I’ll just warn you, she doesn’t mince words. I have no idea what she’s gonna say. Let’s welcome Lainna.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 08:38
Thanks, Julie, for your words, and your apology is very heartfelt. Thank you. One of the things you need to know that I’m just traumatized being in this space speaking to you. Okay? And I know that as we prayed for all of you this morning, how coming into a church space listening to some of the songs that we’re singing, how traumatizing that is to you. And I hold that in my heart and understand that pain. As I’ve walked through evangelical spaces there are many things that have been said to me. These are just a few in the fine collection of lines that have been delivered to me with good intentions. I don’t see color. You are so articulate. You’re playing the race card that I’m doing reverse discrimination and racism. Why can’t people get over talking about race? I don’t even care if you’re black, white, or purple. I’m not sure. Only purple people I’ve seen are dead. But one of my best friends is black. We live in a post racial world. We’ve had a black president, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan. My family did not own slaves, and All Lives Matter. So, these are a few things. These are just a few of the sophomoric, unhelpful, and lacking insight retorts that I’ve received from my white brothers and sisters in Christ when discussing race with them. I’ve questioned myself over and over again, why am I here today? Up to this morning. I really didn’t think I could be here. A few months ago, as Julie said, when she asked me to speak at the RESTORE conference, I have struggled and questioned my need and your need to hear me speak. I have not spoken in front of a large audience since 2019. I swore off speaking in front of white Christian-like audiences, like someone giving up chocolate for Lent. I have been successful up until today to keep that pledge.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 11:08
This is a bit of a public coming out for me. Authentically, being myself, you’re the first people to see this. In the words of Maya Angelou. I no longer are beholding to the white gaze. I must have sat down 1000 times to write some kind of speech for you. I’ve struggled to share intimate parts of me, potentially to an audience and community like those in the past that caused me so much pain. It was then I was a respectable model Negro who provided a limited colorism to their homogeneity, I allowed myself to be squashed and to be strategically unassuming, as I would not convey the angry black woman or intimidate the fragility of the individuals around race. Now, I do not have the motivation or desire to wrap up this in joining into a neat tidy package sprinkled with various Bible verses and then joining hands to sing a rendition of Kumbaya making all feel comfortable with my threatening presence as an educated black woman. I’m going to be completely honest with you; discussing racial trauma in white evangelical spaces to me, as Julie was talking about, is like slitting my wrists for white folks to see me bleed as a bizarre form of curiosity and entertainment, while giving them the power to determine if my blood is red, debate the merits of the tool of my infliction and determine the depth of my wound and the level of pain I may be experiencing. All of this is based on their intellectualized bystander observations and their limited personal experiences. I’m tired of being treated when I talk about race, racism, unfair, unjust practices, and white Christian spaces as not being a credible witness. Being divisive and unloving in some way, my race disqualifies me, because I have a conflicted interest in my blackness, and that only white folks have the power to be the judge in jury in such matters.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 13:37
Julie assured me that this audience would be different. I told Julie, there is a great difference between white folk who have been hurt by the church and by the figures in Christian organizations, than the pain of being black in overwhelming Christian space. There are many nuances. Yes, Julie, they feel pain, isolation, and loss. But here’s the key difference. You see, Julie, you all were part of the family. You and they belonged until you didn’t. Me, however, while I was never part of the family, I was allowed to be in those spaces, tolerated as long as I did not upset the fragile balance or to critique or speak of the lack of people of color, in leadership or in lowly position in that space. I was to be unseen and unheard, and I was allowed to enjoy the delicious morsels that fell from the table where no seat was available for me. I felt a little bit like Charlie Brown ready to kick a football, getting into position to swing my leg, and Lucy quickly going from holding the ball and snatching it away again, and my landing square into my backside. I am so tired of not being believed, watching white folks finding no compelling reason to address the issue, feeling like they will lose something or be subjugated to the evils in demonic treatments that blacks have experienced. As if those like myself want to pay back every horror on white bodies that have been inflicted on us. I’ve watched white folks actively and complicitly be antithetical to the Gospel, denying the Imago Dei in all people. I’m tired of racism being viewed by white folk as a political issue outside the realm of the gospel and being chastised that we are one human race in a story.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 16:04
I hear God whispering, do you love me? A piece of me dies a bit, and my heart hardens repetitively, telling the story even if later a person starts to believe perhaps my story might be slightly credible. I have paid the price over and over. I feel God holding my hand, will you trust me? I’ll be rejected and dismissed once again God. You are my child and so are they. But they hurt me so much. Look at all that I have lost. I have been hurt and othered all my life in predominantly white spaces. I have lost so much. I do not believe racism will ever go away. It is deeply rooted into the fabric and foundations and the DNA of this country.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 17:04
God can I really love these people? Proximity and the hugging it out doesn’t work. I fought this issue in the world and within my own home. I had no reprieve. I’ve got you, fall back into my arms. I will bear this. God, it’s so hard. But you have sent friends who have done the same who are not the same pigmentation of me. And many of them are here in this audience. They have borne with me the pain and loss that I’ve endured over the last several years. They have shown up with meals, encouragement, and prayer, sat beside me and held my hand on some of the darkest nights. They have listened to my disappointment and even my anger. They have been the hands and feet of Christ. Yes, Lord, I can love them. Because as I look around this room, I see so many of my friends. Although the pain is still there, hope has not been extinguished. I trust you, God, please stay by my side and walk with me and protect me.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 18:30
So, with that, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my story. But I can say something I couldn’t even say 72 hours ago. I love you guys. I have been hurt, but I still have hope. And I want to tell a little bit you know in this time. I’m like, How can I tell a hard story like this in 40 minutes? So, I’m gonna share a little bit about my story. I think parts of it that are pertinent to this particular audience and my titular brothers and sisters. Unlike most African Americans, I’ve never been in an all-black space. I’ve never been part of a black church. I’ve always lived in white communities. And no, I was not adopted. Okay. So, growing up in white spaces, I also have had and continue to have education, because I just seem not to get enough. Right now, I’m getting a fourth degree from Wheaton College in evangelism and leadership. I decided to go there to see what white people were learning. And I got that done and knew in two weeks what was happening but dang I signed up for a three-year degree. That wasn’t well thought out. In my 30 years of formal education, I’ve only had two black instructors. A total of 12 weeks of those 30 years. I’ve learned to study white people learning to code switch and adapt in order to assimilate and be unassuming. My success depended on knowing how to operate in spaces. Their success I’ve learned culturally in medical school. And there have been times in my life where I was on the brink of wanting to join the Black Panther group and forever being away from white people, not black people, because Lord knows I haven’t been around them. So, I had an amazing mentor by the name of Dr. J. Hirsch, in medical school, he was a traditional Jewish man, amazing man. Had an incredible command of an audience. So, he was a child psychiatrist. And he always did the greeting at UIC, where I went to medical school for the incoming medical first year class. And he had a way that he could capture an audience. And I would be sitting in the audience with over 400 of my colleagues, and make you feel like you were the only one in that auditorium. And I was like, I don’t know what that is, but I want that. And one day he was offering, understanding the family as a patient. Anytime you treat a patient, you’re treating the whole family. And so, I decided I need to go to that class for this mysterious man. And I got into his class, it was just a four-week class. And one day I was walking down the hallway, and I was at that time, engaged to my white husband at the time. So, no one knew about that. We kept it kind of secret I hung out with many of the black students, he came up to me and asked me if I would allow him to be my mentor. I looked at him like, really? I’m like, I’m gonna have to think about this. I said, give me some time to think about this, and I walked off. I’m glad to report that I did take him up on his offer. And it was the most amazing time. Actually, my second child is named after Dr. J. Hirsch. He became my academic father; he used his privilege to stand beside me. I didn’t come from a whole line of doctors. I do have a brother that’s a doctor. And that’s something my parents instilled in us. But it wasn’t my background. And there were many times I struggled during medical school where I was close to being kicked out of medical school for academic failure. And he never did my work. I didn’t even know how to write a letter on my behalf. He would make me I would write it, he would edit it, he would make me write it over and over again until I got it right. And at one point, it was so bad that anytime I was called into the dean’s office for academic struggling, he would come with me. Didn’t say a word. I remember one time we were in the elevator, the doors closed, and I was exhausted, I was done. I was like, I can’t fight anymore. And I remember when the doors close, that man took his fist and slammed it against the elevator door and let out a swear word that they better not eff with me. And at that point, his anger overwhelmed me. He freaked me out, oh, like, Man, this guy’s crazy. He wants it worse than I do. And he stood by my side. And that brought me to the brink of going to the dark side.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 23:40
I spoke nationally in homeschool conferences all over the country. And I have a publisher that is, just Google my name, you’ll find out who it is. Who I worked with, who has my books. And I thought we believed the same thing. I was walking in any of these really big conservative organizations, even though I wasn’t up front or seen, I believed in the vision and mission. And as I watched the things that my children went through, and I watched my boys who were cute little biracial boys grow up to start looking like men, watching that they suddenly became dangerous. And I watched how I was treated in the world. And about five or six years ago, I said something’s wrong. So, I began to start speaking out about the racism and exclusion of people of color in leadership and the messaging of predominantly national organizations, ones that may have centered on white families using stock photos of black people to colorize their messaging to give the illusion that they were interested in diversity. I think the last thing that brought me back besides my great family from Tov that Julie spoke of, I’m part of that group of our Tov family, was I was bewildered just like you were. And I was like, these people’s orthodoxy do not match their orthopraxy. And I kept talking out, and I found myself at a conference called liberating. And check this. I did not put this on Facebook, liberating evangelism. decentering whiteness, okay. It’s like, what the heck is decentering whiteness? I don’t even know what that means. And so, I went into this conference., and at the time, I was already being kind of, excuse the pun, blacklisted in the evangelical circles. And I went into this conference, and I knew that no one that I associated would ever find themselves there. So, I walked into the hotel conference room, peeked my head in there, and a third of the people were white. I think I gasped out loud. And I stepped back, and I looked at the sign on the door. Yep. Liberating evangelism. decentering whiteness, why are there white people here?
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 26:20
And it was bizarre to me. And because no one in my evangelical circles would have been caught dead there. And so, I was fascinated as I watched the pulpit be shared by people of color of various nationalities. Now, this is the first time I was at a conference that I didn’t see a white male be a keynote speaker. And what I saw from the indigenous to Latinos, and Asians and other people that did it, it had a different flavor. So I was out of my mind, like observing this really weird world. And I asked one of the white individuals, why are you here? And they looked at me like I was asking a trick question. And they’re like, What do you mean? I said, “Did you not read my lips? Let me try this again. Why are you here? And they said, because the Bible says we should love our brother. And I like, seriously? Do you really believe that? Like, yeah, what else would that mean? And it was that adventure that I went into. And as I started sharing my circles, no one in this circle that I was at, had any idea really of Focus on the Family, or any of these organizations I associated in the homeschool world. And I’m like, Don’t you know who they are? I was like, kind of proud., because I was name dropping all those people. They’re like, I don’t know who these people are. And I was like, really? Because they told me they’re the center of Christianity. But you guys say you’re Christians, but you don’t know those people? They’re like, nope, no clue. And so, after I would introduce myself, people would look at me at the conference like, and when those ASPCA commercials, you know, with the little dog in the cage shaking, they would look at me like really pathetically like, Oh, bless her heart, look at her. And I didn’t understand it at the time. And so, after one of the meetings, I was sitting on the couch just bewildered because I had not the language to describe what I was experiencing in the white evangelical space. And, lo Behold, this is how God works, a white woman stood and sat beside me. I was in my thoughts. She put her hand on my shoulder, and she goes, I know from which you come. And it’s just like, God, you know, and I was like, Oh, my gosh. And she’s like, Oh, I know all the people you’re talking about. I’m like you do because I was feeling kind of crazy. Like they didn’t really exist. And she goes, Yes, I’m a homeschool mom. I’m from Florida but I live in Philadelphia. And I traveled here because my husband gave me this gift. And I have two little boys, the woman was white, and I vow that I won’t raise them in the stuff that I was raised in. I was like, wow, this is a whole new world. And she goes, Well, where are you staying tonight? I’m like, I don’t know, this hotel is kind of expensive. I’ll find somewhere else to stay. She’s like, why don’t you stay with me? I said seriously, in your hotel room? I’m like It’s been a while since I’ve been in college and stuff. But so, I said, Okay, this is crazy, but I’ll stay in your room.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 29:40
So over two nights, this white woman mentored me. She’s like, and she didn’t chastise me. She’s like, okay, Lainna, you need a little help here. So, get a notepad out. Okay. And she’s like, let me give you names of some podcasts and some authors. She’s giving me black authors and other things, all the stuff that was taboo, and evangelical will start discovering James Cohn. And I started discovering the real Malcolm X and the real Martin Luther King. I started reading all these things. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know about James Baldwin. Nothing in my education had prepared me for this stuff. And she bandaged my wounds that night and brought me from the brink of hate. So, I share that, in that she was willing to step into space with me and walk with me.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 30:39
And my third story of where my friends have come, the last three years, I have had a new friend group. They don’t know they just laugh when I tell them where I’ve been. And these organizations that I have served, and they’re like, that doesn’t sound like the Lainna we know. Like, I know, I’m kind of a different person now. And the way that they’ve come beside me, and the love that I’ve been shown has been unprecedented. So, I can’t thank my friends enough. One of the things that has been really grounding into me is I had the opportunity to go to Ghana this summer. It was life changing, I will never be the same. I am so grounded now. I went on something called a Sankofa. It’s called and Sankofa is from the language A Twi from Ghana, and it means loosely, go back, and get it. And so the whole idea, and this is me sitting on underneath a Sankofa is the bird is facing forward, its neck is backwards. And as it’s going forward, it has the ability to look back. So, the idea is to retrieve things of value from knowledge of the past, you have to go back to move forward. And living in a country where they’re trying to ban all black history as if it’s alternative American history. I have grown up in a world that has told me my people were nothing; that we were savages until we had the unfortunate issue of slavery. And well, that was kind of a bummer. But now we’ve had the opportunity to be civilized. There is no history that we’ve done anything significant in this country or anything. So, I’ve always felt lost. I felt I couldn’t understand who I was. And so, when I went to Africa, I felt an incredible grounding, and a sense of pride. I couldn’t find it here. But I found it there. I learned about my ancestry, that I’m the descendant of kings and queens, where the European Christianity is not nearly as old as the African Christianity. So, I’m learning all these things I never had an opportunity, and it has been life changing. So, I went to for the first time in my life to be in a place where people look like me. Okay? I get lost in the crowd. I’ve never had that happen to me before. And so, we were able to be entertained by African chiefs. And actually, one of the chiefs reminded me of my father. I’ve never been in a group where I could actually see me, and I saw this man, and he resembles my father. Both my parents died of COVID, a couple of years ago, two weeks apart. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about that in a moment. But to see this man, I just welled up in tears and crying because I could see myself for the first time.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 34:08
So going to Ghana, I’d never seen all these billboards with black folk. Okay? I think I saw one billboard with one white person, but everything from their leaders to their celebration to everything else, I saw me. But the interesting thing in Ghana, there’s no such thing as a black person. And so that kind of understanding that their race is invisible, helped me to understand how white people see their race as being invisible. So, to be able to relish in the joys of being a part of a community where people looked at me, looked like me was incredible.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 34:50
I also had the opportunity to visit the Cape Coast and the Gold Coast. And I went into two castles that housed my ancestors when they were stolen raped and taken from their homes. And these castles are on the Cape Coast, Elmira and a Cape Coast Castle. And these were built in the 1400s. This one, particularly by the Portuguese was a trading post that later became a place for black cargo. So, to walk in these buildings and these castles to try to embody and feel the pain of my ancestors was overwhelming. And as I walked through one of the uncommon things that you wouldn’t imagine belief, do you guys know what that is? This is in the middle of one of the castles. It’s a church. There were churches where white people would come while the suffering and horror happened in the same space. And this was very formative to me. At one point, we were merged with a group of white tourists. And it was interesting to watch the white tourists posture. Believe it or not, our whole group from Wheaton College was black. I don’t know how that happened. But all of us were black that were on the trip. And we were merged with the white group. And as we walked solemnly through the sacred places, we watched our white brothers and sisters act like they were on a field trip. They would push to get in the front to get a better view. As they talked about the carnage that was happening in the space, I remember, we went up to the governors quarters. And they were telling us in the space that the governor’s quarters was, it would house up to nine people. That same space down below, would house over 300 of enslaved Africans in the space, without food, any kind of hygiene. Everything happened in that space. And what did my white brothers and sisters say, as they were in that space? They were looking out the windows and talking about what a beautiful view there was. So, at that point, I was like, I’m done. I can’t be around this. And I was sitting next to one of the cannons that protected the castle, kind of reflecting on it and someone kind of caught that picture of me at the time. This is one of the things on the castle. It reads an everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors. May those who died Rest in peace, May those who returned find their roots. May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity. We the living vow to uphold this. So, my whole talk is supposed to be about surviving and thriving. I know about surviving; I have been in survival mode for some time. I’ve had in the last four years I’ve had a total knee replacement as a former athlete along with many health challenges, I’ve ventured into spiritual wilderness teasing out the Jesus of the Bible, versus the twisted Jesus that had no concern for justice. Those who have been harmed in the church, who were unable to refuse to see the imago Dei and all people. I navigated racial unrest and the silence of my white Christian friends and my former circles, who always had something to say about black bleeding and dying bodies laying the street about their character and had nothing to say about the character of a yellow haired man with a bad comb over sitting in the Oval Office. I lost my 30-year marriage to a white man. I haven’t gone public. My divorce was finalized about six months ago. And had a lot to do with this issue. My family has been shattered. I’m watching the politicization of mass while millions die across the world from COVID. And those last being considered expendable. Watching my dad die over FaceTime, due to COVID and not being able to hold his hand or be present as he drew in his last breath,. No funeral and then there’d have to be my mom who died two weeks later. This is just a few of the things that I’ve had to survive over the last four years. I’ve survived a predominantly white churches where my pain and the pain of others who look like me were ignored so that my brighten brothers and sisters could remain comfortable without self-examination.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 39:49
I understand surviving. Surviving is remaining alive. Some days, that was all I could do. It’s continuing to exist after coming close to dying and being destroyed. surviving is holding up holding on and enduring when very little is left in your tank. I know all of you guys understand that. At times surviving is all that we can do. God carried and continues to carry me and you through this. God brought friends into my life who bandaged my wounds and lifted me up when I had no strength on my own.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 40:28
So, I want to get a little geeky, I want to show you something about healing. So, you know, I’m a doctor, and I kind of like that science thing and stuff. So, I’m going to talk about healing by secondary intention. So, this is like a medical picture. So, bear with me, maybe you can see the analogy here is, there are two ways of healing, there’s called first intention versus second intention. So, when a surgeon goes in to repair something, and they make that clean cut, after they repair it, they bring the edges nicely together and sew things up. That leaves a minimal scar. Okay? I feel like what we’re all going through is healing by second intention. And what that is, is when you have a gaping wound, and let’s say it’s been open for some time, or it gets pulled open several times. After about six to eight hours, for more as close to six, we as physicians can’t sew that wound up because of the concern of infection. So, you let that wound stay open. And with that open wound, you have to care for that wound. A lot of times we have antibiotics, and we’ll pack that antibiotic in that wound that the dressings have to get changed often. And as that wound is going through the healing, it actually heals from the bottom up, okay? From the inside, out. And I see us kind of like that secondary intention, as that wounding first we have to start that healing inside of us as we work it out. And then, of course, the scarring from second intention healing is much greater. There’s much scarring, but it’s been restored in a new way. And I feel that a lot of what we’re going through is similar to that secondary healing.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 42:21
So, we talked about surviving, what about thriving? I started looking through this whole idea, what does it mean to be thriving? Am I thriving? I do feel like I have a little more. The fact that I’m here is a big testimony that I’m starting to feel God’s healing presence, and it’s working. And thriving means growing and developing, having resilience. It means you’re comfortable with yourself, you’re able to take control of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. And there’s an increased optimism for the future. Ah, I think I’m starting to thrive. It’s not that the pain is not there. It’s not even that I believe that this world will ever get better. But I know as we walk and take our wounds, and we heal from them, the power that GOD can do with us through our thriving. So, we have a thriving we have flourishing. Like how is thriving and flourishing different? And Acts 2:42-47, If you read that when it talks about the hospitality, it’s a place of a joyous community, where there’s a festival friends. And there are five domains in flourishing; one, happiness and satisfaction that’s gonna look a little different for each of us. It is having the mental and physical health, having meaning and purpose in your life, and character and virtue. Now I know we’ve had a lot of character training in evangelical spaces. So, this will sound bizarre, but that character in virtue cannot be fully embodied unless you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Okay? And most churches and evangelical spaces talk about God, Jesus, and the Holy Bible, because Lord, we won’t get close to the Holy Spirit because that gets a little radical and out of control. And that doesn’t go in our 20-minute sermon series that we’re trying to do. Okay? So, in order to have good character and virtue it has to be nurtured through the Holy Spirit. And lastly, close relationships, close good social relationships. And finally, how do we get there? Okay. In 2019, as I was swearing off white evangelical spaces like chocolate I feel like God laid four words on my heart about this and it seems to apply to all these hard circumstances and prior speakers have spoke of this. So, the four words, the first one is lament. This is not feeling sorry, this is not God created you white. It’s a beautiful thing. No one’s asking you to be anything else than what you’ve been graded. But understanding that hearing these issues, no one wants pity. It’s a legitimate lament, it’s not a sadness. It’s not an Oh! that’s so sad. A lament is a deep longing in pain and sorrow for something. Unless you can lament, you can’t move forward. So, it is a spotty window that someone has talked about that embodying it.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 45:45
The second word he sent me was liberate. Oh my gosh, this seems out of touch. Because of all that stuff I hear an evangelical word about liberating means once Jesus comes, then we’ll be good. No, this means as soon as you see the problem, you have to liberate that issue. You don’t wait till Jesus comes. I lament, there’s a problem, it needs to be corrected now. I love how we like use time; I was told this at a prominent school, Christian school, you know, Lainna, you’re just trying to rush us too much. We’re just going to need a little more time to change hearts. Like seriously? Wait, your Bible says, When you see something wrong, you correct it. How does racism take time? So, you have to liberate.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 46:37
Third thing is to reclaim because Lord knows, you have to, like clean that space out. And you have to reclaim it for Christ because of the distortion and the evilness that’s been pervaded there, that space has to be reclaimed, or that mess comes back. And lastly, you have to reimagine. This is not a little tweaking of systems, you know, like finding a couple more chocolate chips to put into your little organization to try to give the issue that you have reformed yourself. This is a whole reimagining. It’s a whole reimagining of systems and purposes of what you’ve done. You can’t tweak something that’s already distorted, tainted and evil. So, wow, I’m doing good, it’s only 49 seconds. Yes. Okay, so I didn’t think I could do this.
LAINNA CALLENTINE M.Ed., M.D. 47:40
So, I just want to leave you I have a little bit of I don’t know if you guys know this book, I didn’t write it. Darn! I wasn’t thinking – I should have brought my own books and should have been holding them up like this. But this is not one I wrote. But it’s by Kate Bowler and it’s The Lives We Actually Have. And I thought something and it’s 100 blessings for imperfect days. And there was a perfect blessing that I want to leave with you. It’s called for when you’ve been hurt by the church. God saw me walk away. I had to, for what was supposed to have been a refuge, a community of hope and purpose, mutual encouragement, distorted all I understand you to be. Oh God, lead me to the heart of love so I might find the healing I need and protect the reverence I have for you. For you do not consume, but rather feed, you do not destroy but build up. You do not abandon your little ones but insist that they belong in your arms. Enfolded here, I see you now. The God who loves us to the end. For though I walked away, you didn’t. You found me and will lead me. Let’s now find the others. Thank you.
Julie Roys 49:17
Will again that’s Dr.Lainna Callentine speaking at RESTORE 2023 and Lainna, thank you so much for sacrificing yourself on our behalf to bring this message. And as you explained, there is no quick fix to racism. We need to lament deeply. We need to totally reimagine our systems and our purposes. And that’s something we’re committed to doing at The Roys Report. And I don’t know exactly what that entails, but I am confident that the Holy Spirit does. And we are committed to listening to the Spirit and to following the spirit. So please pray for us as we continue to take Lainna’s message to heart. And as we continue to discern how to practically walk out our conviction that every human being is a bearer of God’s image and worthy of equal respect and love. And I hope you’ll do the same. There’s so much to process in what Lainna said. But dealing with racism is not optional. Any more than following Christ command to love each other is optional. So, let’s commit to doing that together. And again, thank you so much for listening and supporting our podcasts and our mission here at The Roys Report. As I’ve noted before, we don’t have any big donors or advertisers, we simply have you, the people who care about abuse and corruption in the church and want to expose it. So, if you’re able, would you please consider giving a gift to support our ministry? And this month when you donate $30 or more, we’ll send you a copy of The Great DeChurching. This is a great resource exploring what’s causing the current exodus out of the church, and what can be done to stop the bleed. To donate and to get the book just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you won’t miss any of these episodes. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you’re blessed and encouraged.