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Why We All Need Black History Month: Rechab Gray and Marques Holt

with Marques Holt, Rechab Gray | February 17, 2023
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What does Black History Month mean to you? Well, regardless of your race or ethnicity, you should probably know how to answer that question. Pastor Rechab Gray and producer Marques Holt join Shelby to talk about why it's important for Christians to care about Black History Month.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

What does Black History Month mean to you? Pastor Rechab Gray and producer Marques Holt join Shelby to talk about why it’s important for Christians to care about Black History Month.

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Why We All Need Black History Month: Rechab Gray and Marques Holt

With Marques Holt, Rechab Gray
February 17, 2023
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Rechab: So Ephesians 3 is my pivotal passage. What Paul is saying is that it takes a multifaceted people to understand God's multifaceted grace.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: So for a believer, if I don't care about black history, if I don't care about the contributions. Forget even the worldly stuff of black Christians.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: I am missing a, here it is. I'm missing a face of grace. That I need to comprehend for my own sanctification.


Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading.

I'm your host, Shelby Abbott, and my desire with this podcast is to help guide you toward the life-changing power of Jesus for relationships in a constantly shifting culture. Well, it's February, meaning that it's Black History Month, and simply put, I wanted to talk about it. So I brought in two of my good friends, pastor and Speaker Rechab Gray, along with music and content producer Marcus Holt. We sat down for an honest conversation about faith, race, theology, and of course Black History Month. It was an incredible time with both of them, and I'm going to go ahead and let the conversation do the talking. So let's get into my time with Marcus Holt and Rechab Gray.

So, there's a bit of a cliche that is thrown out there called - it says Black history is American history. The cliche exists for a reason though because it's just true. Like Black history is American history. Often in the past I would hear Black History and just tune out because it doesn't apply to me. Up until literally last year when Marcus, you asked me, you as a black man asked me as a white man, what does Black History Month mean to you?

Marques: Right. Yes. I stumbled my way through answering that question - kind of bumbled my way through it. But it made me think in ways that I answered honestly with you. So I wasn't trying to come up with something.

Marques: Tell me how you answered it.

Shelby: I basically said, I've never been asked the question before. Nobody is literally in my 40 some odd years, asked me. What does it mean to me? And then basically try to talk about why it's important that I learn from there on out, why I move forward so that I'm able to have at least a coherent answer or some sort of purposeful thing because it communicates care for someone like you, my brother and Christ-

Marques: Right.

Shelby: And it communicates that I want to be wise about what factually happened in the past and move forward. So I actually wrote a couple things down.

Marques: Okay.

Shelby: So this is what I wanted to start with this. Proverbs 4:7 says, the beginning of wisdom is this. Get wisdom. and whatever you get, get insight.

Marques: Hmm.

Shelby: It's very interesting the way it's written. Beginning of wisdom is this, get wisdom.

Marques: Wow.

Shelby: So inevitably ask the next question, what is wisdom? So I think for the purposes of our conversation, a wise person honors and learns from his past. That's what a wise person does. He refuses to let the most important facts about our shared and collective memory disappear into the depths of forgotten history.


Shelby: What happened in the past shapes and forms where we are heading in the future. And it's of very great importance to set aside a month for learning as much as we can about black history. So that's kind of what my thoughts were. It made me think intentionally about specifically Harriet Tubman, who was called the Moses of her people. I love that for several reasons, because even, you know, the New Testament constantly goes back to the Exodus and talks about. Jesus rescues us out of slavery.

And how Harriet Tubman did that with the Underground Railroad rescuing, uh, black people out of slavery toward Canada and Mexico, and, Being a Moses type figure.

Obviously as a believer, it just resonates with me on multiple levels. So, that's kind of what it means to - I'm still in the beginning stages of trying to answer that question, and I'm deeply grateful for the fact that you asked me, but I really wanted to dive in with both of you. Marques Holt, who works here with me at FamilyLife® Rechab Gray, dear friend of mine, black pastor in Orlando. I wanted to ask you guys what does it mean to you? And then maybe a different question of why should it matter to your white brothers and sisters? Why should Black History month matter to people who are white?

Marques: Yeah. Can I jump in, Rechab?

Rechab: Please, please.

Marques: Okay Shelby, I'm going to ask you a question.


Shelby: No, I asked you a question. [Laughter] Your turn to duck.

Marques: Do you care about me?

Shelby: Of course, I do. Yes.

Marques: How do I know you care about me?

Shelby: How do you know that I care about you? I take interest in you.

Marques: You do. You do a really good job at that.


Shelby: Yes. That's one way I can show that is be purposeful to take interest in you, ask you questions, learn about your life, joke with you.

Marques: Yes.

Shelby: Share common out we both love sneakers, things like that.


Marques: That's, that's right. So you mentioned about being wise and seeking for wisdom, and I think you just caring so much about me, which I know for a fact you care about me, you learning about me, and uh, what's important to me, makes you a wiser person because of my experience and even my ethnicity.

You grow in that area and, um, You being able to understand, not necessarily agree or even fully comprehend exactly what I've been through, or what I experienced is okay. Because your heart is there to learn and to grow wiser, and to just be a good friend to me. And you, you're doing a great job, man. Thank you.

Rechab: Yes. Like my - it's a loaded question and my answer's kind of loaded.

Shelby: and good, loaded.

Rechab: I'm trying. Be super loaded, but you know, obviously certain things you think about a lot longer. And this issue is something that, you know, I've been thinking about a really long time. I think a lot of it is especially because we're talking about from the realm of Christ a lot of it begins theologically.

Shelby: So I knew you would help me by answering this love you Rechab.

Rechab: So the plan of salvation has always been geared towards God bringing together all things under the banner, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why he is the name that is above all names. Almost like a book has a title. All of Creation will.

Claim and glorify that name, Jesus. He will be the title page.

If all of creation exists like that, then all of humanity does as well. And since Genesis 12, God set in motion a plan that he would bless all of the nations plural through one seed, the seed of Abraham, which we know is the ultimately the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the plan.

God fulfills that plan by actually bringing Jesus on the scene. And he does not only bless those who are of Jewish descent, but he also goes into various different lands and he begins to bless those who are beyond - to the point where people around him are like, yo, what are you doing?

Marques: Yes, amen.

Rechab: This lady at the well, why are you in this specific region? We don't need y'all here anymore. He's taking heat for that. And then he gives his mandate in Matthew 28, the great commission as we call it.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: That we would go out and make disciples of all nations.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: So then it's like, okay, he gives the mandate. What ends up happening? Well, Paul goes and takes this further. Peter has his vision and he says, yo, I now get it.

That there is now nothing partial when it comes to God. So whatever God has called clean, I must call clean as well. And because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, even the Gentiles are clean before him.

Shelby: Yeah. Yep.

Rechab: So then it's like, all right, the plans set in motion. Does it actually get. Revelation chapter seven, where all nation tribes, tongues and languages. Yes. Around the throne of Christ. That banner name, that title page, singing his praises with one voice. So they are still nations. They are still tribes. They are still languages, but they have one singular voice who could put all of that together. Nothing but the spirit of unity. The one that Jesus prayed for in John 17, what we call the high priestly prayer.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: So I think to answer the question significantly, I will say, first off, we need a more robust biblical theology when it comes to the nations period to even answer more specific questions for our American context, what does Black History Month mean to us?


Rechab: So now that you have that as a backdrop, a Biblical theology of nations.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: Now in this American context, how do we apply that biblical theology of nations?

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: Well, we care about the nations that exist within our very nation.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: Praise God that we have freedom of different nations coming here, what they would call a melting pot, but sometimes that pot don't really melt. It's almost like the frozen section, if you will, where everything is still bifurcated. Right?

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: And so, for us to see it really melted in the heat of the spirit, that unifying spirit that brings all of us together. We really do have to go back and do the hard work of looking at what got us here to the place where we're in our frozen various sections. So I do think it's important to look back, but I also think for believers specifically, nothing changes until you see this fight as a necessity, not a novelty.

Shelby: Mm-hmm. Okay. What do you, yeah, you got to unpack that for me. What does that mean?

Rechab: I think throughout Christian history, there have always been Christians who get really excited about this new thing.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: And you get just really chronicle this all the way back to slavery days. Mm-hmm, yo, really excited. Yeah. That'd be nice if slaves were treated a little bit better. But the fight of abolition is a different kind of fight. Even during Jim Crow, there were churches like - yeah, I wish it wasn't as bad. But the fight of civil rights is a different fight.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: And so to really get in the game of the fight, if you will, and not for it to be just a novelty, an exciting thing, a fad that will one way, one day fade.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: It has to be a necessity. And why is it a necessity? It is because of the mandate of scripture that we should be about all nations, but that all nationsness is not simply a declaration of a directive, go do, but it's also understand. So Ephesians 3 is my pivotal passage where Ephesians 3 after Paul says that the whole church, the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the whole church. He then goes and praises God. He says, “for this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power and your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” We get really excited. But then he says, so that you being rooted in ground, in love may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: -the saints, he just talked about showing off the manifold or multifaceted wisdom of God. So what Paul, is saying is that it takes a multifaceted people to understand God's multifaceted grace. For a believer, if I don't care about black history. If I don't care about the contributions. Forget even the worldly stuff of black Christians.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: I am missing a, here it is, I'm missing a face of grace. That I need to comprehend for my own sanctification. And that's what's at stake, if we don't actually peer into black history month. Yeah.

Shelby: Yes, and I think too, it was John Onwuchekwa who said, “God created us, so we can't see the back of our own head.”

Rechab: Yes, that's beautiful. [Laughter]

Shelby: Yes, so like why would we not be able to see, we need other people to help us see the back, the spiritual backs of our heads?

Shelby: I'm butchering it, I'm sure, but that's basically what he talked about. We need other people to help us to see the areas in our lives where we are blind.

Now I could. Day to day and go, well, I, I'm not like hateful about this. It's fine that we have this month, or it's fine that like, you guys want to celebrate this stuff, but the, you guys is a, is a me guys too because-


Shelby: It's not a you guys,-


Shelby: We are members of a family and therefore we should care about our family. You are my brother in Christ.


Shelby: That's not just flowery language. You are my brother. We're not blood brothers, but we're closer than blood brothers. That's what Jesus said. These are my brothers and sisters when his siblings came to him. We are supposed to be closer than that and yet how often do we treat it like that? We just don't do it.


Marques: Yes, but Shelby I would also say that, Black people out there who's saying, why are we still talking about the past? Why are we still talking about slavery? All this over and done with? You know, that stuff don't affect us anymore. That's just wrong.


Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Marques: And if we're not aware of our history as it pertains to even the last five years, the last 20 years, the last 40 years, then how can we advance as a society, especially to point to Christ and give God the glory for all he's doing through our adversity.


Rechab: Yo, that point though, and the point of family is so crazy pivotal. I want to bring the light a text that we all are familiar with, Romans 8. Romans 8 is a big time passage. So Romans 8 is the where a lot of famous quotations: “There's therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The same spirit who raised him from the dead. And then all things work together for the good of those who love him.

We are conformed to the image of his son, the predestination.” I mean, we’ve got so much stuff in there -


Shelby: You’ve got it all memorized apparently. [Laughter]


Rechab: -in Romans 8, but Romans 8 then shifts. And it's almost as though, okay, like, you know, in the black church you would pull out the Hammond B3, like everybody shouting at this point in time, right?

Marques: Mm-hmm

Rechab: But then it shifts because Paul recognizes that he's speaking to a people who will be persecuted for this faith. They're going to have to go through things. So he does something super interesting. He says, if God is for us, who is against us? And then he quotes Psalm 44 and it's in that place where it's, “we are like sheep, uh, led to the slaughter. All the day long we are being killed for your namesake?”

It's a quotation from Psalm 44, which is literally a recollection of Jewish pain. . It is a chronically, if you read Psalms 44 is a literal chronicle of all the things that the Jewish people have gone through up until that point in time.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: But Paul's speaking of Romans. He is using his own Jewish people's pain and he's connecting it to this people who don't got nothing to do with it. Why? Because the blood of Christ makes us blood family. So they get grafted into that pain as well. And then this is where the connection of Chapter 9 comes in because the very next words after he does that is he says, but I wish that I myself were cursed for my own people according to the flesh.

Here is Paul connecting these Romans who got nothing to do with Jewish pain into their Jewish pain, and then he's remembering his Jewish people who don't know the blood of Jesus yet, and he's saying, “I wish that I was a cursed. So that those people, according to the flesh, this flesh and blood stuff would actually be grafted into the very thing you, Romans are grafted into.”

That web, if you will, that Paul is laying out in just two chapters. I ain't even talk about the rest in just two chapters. I think gives us a blueprint for the depth of the web that we need to have as believers in this nation. And if we can pursue that, it don't mean we going to reach it - but if we could pursue that, what kind of conversations will we have in the month of February around black history? Yes, I think it'll be far deeper than, how do you guys fry chicken Preach. [Laughter]


Shelby: What are, what are maybe some other things, Marcus, that we could do as black brothers and sisters, white brothers and sisters, to start engaging in purposeful conversation? Assuming that people are listening. Let's make the assumption that people are actually listening and not ignoring, or just kind of nodding their head, pretending to listen. Does that make sense?


Marques: Yes. One of the things I was thinking about, and I wrote it down, so it's celebrating Black History Month helps us to be better stewards of the privileges we've gained.

Rechab: Hmm.

Marques: Okay. Right?

Shelby: Yes.

Marques: So if we're sitting here thinking about what does Black History have to do with me, let's talk about the rights you and I have today. Let's talk about the homes and the vehicles you and I drive and live in today. Let's talk about the schools that we go to. Someone had to pay the price and some of us right now looking for church homes. And there was obviously a division at one point where there had to be a black church, because that's the only church we had. Here we are more than a hundred years later, some of us still, still feel like the only place we can go is to a black church.

Shelby: Wow.

Marques: And there's trauma within the black church as a black person. Saying this to you. So how do we be good stewards knowing our history? What is our ultimate responsibility right now as Christians to be mindful of the price that was paid for the benefit of you and I.


Rechab: Hmm. Yes. That's a wait man. That's waiting. Yes, I think because you talk about trauma even within the black church, and just the pain of all of this and what it does for - I mean, think about it, like all these things were done long before some of us were born. But the effects and the implications continue, continue, continue.

And therefore, if that's the case, then for our next immediate generation, the stakes are like super, super, super high. I think for me, and it's just a personal thing maybe, but maybe it is more than that. I do really genuinely believe that we skip steps in the Christian Church and then we find ourselves in square one all over again. And I believe the steps we skip is that we have divided out issues like race and justice from our theology. And as long as you keep doing that, even if you get excited about race and justice, but it's separated from your theology. You're still going to have to start back at square one at some point in time.

Until our race and justice philosophy actually is confronted by our theology and vice versa. I really don't think that we have the tools it takes to overcome some of these things that we've seen and we'll just keep doing, playing the same games. And so I think that's the painful part of it is even as some people, I think the words you use shall be where people who are ready to listen. - Listening's one thing. Being willing to change one's mind about something they've held dear for so long is a totally different thing.

Marques: Yeah, yeah. Amen.

Rechab: I think you've experienced it and talked about it - yo, that's, it's shifting. It shifts things. Your eyes are different. You see things different,  and that process is something that I think a lot of people don't want to put they John Hancock on. And I think that's the most difficult part even about these conversations. Because I think some people are excited about the final photograph. Revelation 7. But don't want to experience Peter's -


Shelby: -suffering and the hard work again.


Rechab: Yes. Yep. Like game shifting Acts 10 moment where they have to have a brand-new vision of how they see things. Yeah. So, yeah.


Shelby: Well I wanted to open the floor and ask you guys if there's anything else that you feel would be important for someone like me to learn or for the, as you picture, the 18 to 28 year old young person, whether they be black, white, Asian, Latino, that you feel would be important for them to know, maybe understand, perhaps do. That could come straight from you guys whom I trust deeply.


Marques: And Rechab. Can I say this? I want you to follow me, but I want to say to that person who is thinking, okay, what can I do? Let me tell you what not to do.




Marques: Yes. Don't be that guy who, oh, I have a black friend or my, my best friend is Black. And I understand there's some parts of the country where there's not too many black people. I get it. But if there is African Americans or other people of color in your proximity, be intentional. Let this year be your year of being intentional. Be intentional to engage with somebody you that don't look like you. Like you and I were talking at the beginning of this Shelby.

You have to start learning people and actually knowing more than one person that you can say at the end of the year, oh, I had dinner with a person of color, more than one person of color. Start with that as a checkbox. Say hey, I have more than one black friend, and I've done dinner with more than one Hispanic friend, one Asian friend. Be intentional.


Shelby: Mm-hmm. That's good. Thanks. Marcus, what about you? Rechab?


Rechab: I think it's really important who you hang with, who you do life with, who you call family. If your family are all people, and it's not just look like, because I just want to say that's so clear. There's a distinction between multi-ethnicity and multicultural.

Marques: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: You can have a whole bunch of different colors in the room, but they all think it's exactly the same and feel the same about various different topics that come up. I call it like the Froot loop effect of like -


Shelby: I know exactly what you say,


Marques: It’s all one flavor.


Rechab: Yes, Froot Loops are all the same. They are all one flavor, same exact flavor. But you know, I love fruit. They look - it looks amazingly diverse, but you are eating the same flavor every time you pop one of your mouth. So there's a massive distinction between a bowl of Froot Loops and a bowl of fruit. And when you have a bowl of Froot Loops, when you got watermelon and strawberries and mango and, you know what I'm saying? Cherries all the blueberries, man, it feels like, yo, I'm experiencing something robust, radical different. And so I would say, yo, get yourself in a bowl of fruit and not just a bowl of Froot Loops like they're available out there.

Second thing, man, let the text do the talking.

Shelby: Yes.

Rechab: God's heart for not only diversity in general, but I'll just say straight up, the black people is stronger than any black person's heart for the black people. Always has been.

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Rechab: He was in the game of diversity long before we was even talking about it. Like, you know, we say, you know, at different places, like he do this. Like he do this. Like this is what he do. So, let's not think ourselves super smart. I think it was C.S. Lewis who'd coined the term chronological snobbery.

Shelby: Snobbing him.

Rechab: Yes. Where you, where you look back on the past and think just because it is the past, that they somehow were dumber than you - stop. Like, let's get off our high horse. He was on in his game far before we were ever in it. And if he can bridge the gap between Jews and Gentiles with all of the theological and historical division there, then certainly he got a game plan that's right for solving the problem of any divisions we might face in America. And the solution is always the same. It is the gospel of that Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, victoriously, reigns on the throne, will return and he will bring all nations to himself. Yo, let's keep our eyes in that book and on that person, and I think we'll find ourselves in a different place.

Marques: Amen.


Shelby: I, I got nothing better to say than that is the absolute perfect way to end this. Mad respect for both of you guys. Deeply appreciate you. Thank you for being my brothers. Thank you for being patient with me, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to have this conversation with you. So important.


Marques: Well, thanks for thinking the best of us.


Rechab: Indeed, indeed.


Shelby: To my Christian brothers and sisters of any ethnicity, I'd ask that you consider the question this February, what does Black History Month mean to me? And then sit down with a trusted friend or two and dialogue about it together. But again, I'll let it end there because I don't think it could be concluded any better than the way Rechab did it.

If this episode with Rechab and Marcus was helpful for you, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend and wherever you get your podcast. It could really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading if you'd rate and review us; and it's surely easy to find us on our social channels. Just search for Real Life Loading or look for our link tree in the show notes.

I want to thank everyone who's on the Real Life Loading team, Josh, Chloe, Jarrett, Bruce, and Kaytlynn. I'm Shelby Abbott. I'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading.

Real Life Loading is a production of FamilyLife®, a Cru® ministry. Helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.



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