I was encouraged when I read the story on Christian Post of how Michael Kent, a self-professed Neo Nazi, was led to the Lord by his black probation officer, Tiffany Whittier.
Kent said his hatred of blacks started when he was 12 years old and was starting to hang out with a black friend, until his mother kicked Kent out of their house stating she would not have a “blue-eyed devil” in her home.
By the age of 15, Kent was attending Neo Nazi rallies. He became involved with drugs and this along with his dislike for Blacks led to several altercations with the law.
He had been in an out of jail several times, and most of his previous parole officers had treated Kent as a number and didn’t deal with the racial issues that dominated Kent’s life.
However, Kent’s life was transformed when Tiffany Whittier, a Black woman, was assigned to be his parole officer on what would be his life changing last release.
Tiffany is a believer, and when she showed up at Kent’s door for their first interview, the former neo-Nazi was shocked, because of his history, that the parole office had sent a black woman. Before letting her into his home, Kent even asked if she was alone.
And after reading Kent’s file, Tiffany understood the risks when she was assigned the case, but believed that God was in this and the Holy Spirit would guide her if there was a hint of trouble.
And this was the first thing that caught Kent’s attention, he admired Tiffany’s courage as he invited her into his home that had images of Adolf Hitler hanging on its walls.
Over the next few weeks, Kent felt her genuine love that he hadn’t even experienced among his fellow neo-Nazis, and it began to have an impact on him.
Tiffany told the Christian Post:
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I care about these people. I saw Mike’s tattoos. I saw his case file before I went to his home. So, I knew what I was getting into. But I wanted him to be comfortable. I wanted him to feel heard. I wanted him to know I viewed him as an equal. Yes, I’m your probation officer, but I want to see you be successful.”
She added that God does not judge people by their worst mistakes and noted that Kent struggled believing that God would forgive him. But that barrier was broken down as Tiffany loved and accepted him.
This led Kent to eventually accept Christ and though he still struggles with his past believes God has a purpose for his life.
This is the power of Gospel. In Ephesians 2:14-17, the Apostle Paul writes:
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
In verse 14, Paul states that Jesus came to break down the barriers that divide people, and he was specifically referring to Jews and gentiles. In other words, Paul was talking about race.
And in fact, Paul describes this barrier as “a dividing wall of hostility.” The word hostility used in this verse implies more than anger. Because we can legitimately get angry when people do something hat offends us, but the Greek word “echthran” does not refer to this type of anger. It is derived from the Greek word for enemy, and it speaks of being in a permanent state of hostility or enmity towards other people.
And Paul goes on to say that Jesus came to break down this wall of hostility between the races and with the intent of us being “one” in Christ.
But enemies can involve more than those who are other races, it can even involve politics as Kent’s hostility was also fuelled by his involvement with Neo Nazis.
But it doesn’t even have to that extreme. At times, I have found myself looking at those holding a different political view than myself as the enemy.
And I suspect, God wants to even break down the political wall of hostility that is more and more separating us.