“But what can I do?” White Americans have asked this question in regard to the racial crisis in our land so often it has become a cliché. Discussions with blacks usually yield the answer: Go home and get yourself together. Try to begin to understand what is involved in the problem.

“The greatest thing you can do is deal with the problem where you are,” says black evangelist Tom Skinner. “White society has to have its attitude changed.”

In the Chicago Daily News, columnist L. F. Palmer, Jr., wrote: “Many do not recognize the new mood of the black man because they simply do not want to. Others cannot comprehend because their isolation makes it impossible to understand the kind of life a black person lives in this country.”

At the recent U. S. Congress on Evangelism, white evangelist Leighton Ford warned: “If we do not seek to heal the gaping, rubbed-raw wounds of racial strife, then we shall deserve ‘the fire next time.’ It is to the shame of the Christian Church that we have been so slow to face the demands of the Gospel in the racial revolution.”

Before one can begin to solve any problem, says Palmer, “there must be an honest understanding of what the problem is. There is one answer, then, to the perplexed white American who asks in obvious sincerity: ‘What can I do?’ The answer: embark on a mission of undertanding.”

An evangelical pastor who has worked to foster friendly relations between blacks and whites in the inner city points out that “understanding precedes fellowship.” One cannot begin to understand others until he begins to feel with them, to gain insight into their lives, and to respect them.

The vicarious ...

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