Class 51: “Learn About Where You Come From”
Welcome to Class 51 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.
I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum (M.Div, Truett Theological Seminary) and Charles Garrett (M.Div, Southwestern Theological Seminary). This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.
Today, we are continuing our study titled, “Learn About Where You Come From”
As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Randall Robinson. He said, “It is impossible to love ourselves without having an affection for Africa.”
Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:
A good working knowledge of history is crucial. By taking heed of this humble advice, you will gain a perspective on life that is rare among young people today. It will give you a proper perspective on your role and place in America and the world. With this knowledge, you will be able to more successfully relate to your own people as well as to others.
George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Go back, son, so you can go forward.
Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.
In our last lesson we covered some of the miraculous ways God provided for the Israelites and delivered them from their enemies. Remember the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven, the provision of the quail, and the victory over Amalek? God told the Israelites to write down what they had seen God do in order to share it with their children and grandchildren.
God dearly loved the Israelite people and specifically called them out to be His followers. When they suffered from the chains of bondage, God heard their cries and released them. When they were in a seemingly hopeless situation, God performed a miracle and split the Red Sea in half. When they were starving in the desert God sent food from the sky, and never stopped providing such nourishment until they entered the “land flowing with milk and honey.” When the Israelites found themselves tired, weary, and suddenly at war with the Amalekites, God supernaturally intervened and gave His children a hands down (no pun intended) victory. Then, as a commitment to continue anointing His children with such blessings God laid out their own personal covenant. He said, “As long as you, your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, etc. continue to trust Me, I will continue to provide for you.”
However, somehow the Israelites let God down. They became so obsessed with their present situation that they forgot to continue telling the stories of what God had done. They turned their eyes from the words of the covenant to the false promises offered by surrounding nations. They began to dwell on their hardships instead of their blessings. They neglected their heritage and the faith of their fathers and desired the empty blessings of this world. And, thus, God remained true to His covenant and took His blessings from those He dearly loved.
Friend, this story relates more to you as a young, black Christian than you probably realize. Like the Israelites, your people have lived through extremely difficult times, and have been freed from the chains of bondage. The amazing faith of your ancestors carried them through such oppression more than any president, legislation, or civil rights movement ever could. God hears the cries of His hurting children, but when He responds and saves you from despair He expects you to remember it. Read about black heroes who boldly stood for God and fearlessly spoke against slavery. Talk to your relatives who lived during the Civil Rights movement and ask how it affected them. Do not assume that because you were not alive during such times, you are not affected by those events. The lack of faith of the Israelites significantly affected their children and grandchildren, which is seen in Israel’s constant struggle to have Godly leadership and peace.
Your heritage as a Christian runs even deeper than your heritage as a black man. The Christian story begins in Genesis 1:1 and continues for eternity. These events in the lives of the Israelites are relevant to you and me, because as believers we are now God’s chosen people. He miraculously saved us from the bondage of sin, and has given us a purpose for living, to bring glory to His name. In order to remember this purpose and to make the most of this covenant that we now share with the Father we must study our spiritual heritage and learn from it. We can be proud of the men and women of the faith that are highlighted in the Bible, and we can vow to learn from those who let God down. The Lord has placed you in your specific family, in this particular country for a reason.
Now, Just Do It
As one of God’s chosen children there is a purpose for your life. In order to make the most of it, you must first understand where you come from physically and spiritually, and then allow yourself to feel proud about those areas in your family’s past that glorify God and to learn from those areas that were contrary to His desires. Whatever you do, do not forget what the Lord has done. Remembrance is truly the key to His covenant. But, how can you ever remember His mighty works in the life of your family if you do not make yourself aware of your own heritage?
In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.