You don’t shoot salesmen, do you?” asked a 20 year old white boy as he stood on a black man’s front porch in Columbus, Georgia during the racial uprising of the summer of 1971. The smiling white boy was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals; and holding a sample copy of Ebony’s Pictorial History of Black America.
“Oh no! No Sir! We don’t shoot salesmen. Come on in here.” said the black man. The white boy warmly shook the black man’s hand as he walked into the living room and asked, “May I sit down?”
“Have a seat.” the black man said and pointed to a couch covered with clear plastic. Above the couch was a picture of three men; Martin Luther King, Jr., President Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy. Beside that was a picture of a black Jesus.
The white boy sat down and began to flip through the pages of Ebony’s Black History. He showed pictures of slavery, lynching, segregation, police dogs, Madame C. J. Walker, Jackie Robinson, and even the Jackson Five.
Somewhere during the sales presentation the white boy asked the black man if he knew Jesus as his Savior. The black man smiled from ear-to-ear and said; “I couldn’t have made it without Jesus!”
“The white boy said: “I love Him too!” He put down the Ebony sample book and they began to talk excitedly about “sweet Jesus.” Before long they were holding hands and praying for each other.
Then they embraced warmly, both wiping away tears. When the white boy left, the black man said, “You be careful, Son!”
The white boy said, “Thank you, brother. You too!” Then he walked across the yard to the small house next door. He knocked on the door. A black lady opened the door. The white boy said: “Hi, I’m Steve Simms. You don’t shoot salesmen do you?”
This happened many times a day that summer as I sold black history books door-to-door in the middle of a racial uprising in Columbus, Georgia. A few times I went into my “territory” and found a white-owned grocery store had been burned out. Once I was knocking on doors and police in riot gear marched down the street. But I was never threatened, never harmed, and almost always was warmly received. I even sold books to Black Panthers and was treated well by them.
Many times I would be showing my book and find out my prospect was a Christian. I would lay the book down and have wonderful fellowship with my Christian brother or sister. We would testify about God’s work in our lives and pray for each other, sometimes for hours. I was always amazed at the kinship and love we “strangers” felt for each other.
I vividly remember one day when I was feeling discouraged and homesick. Suddenly a large black woman came around the corner of her house right in front of me. She was singing, “Where Could I Go But To The Lord.”
I told her I was really discouraged and needed God’s help. She put her hands on me and began to pray. It was one of those kinds of prayer you can feel all over your body and way down in your soul.
Glory to God! I get excited thinking about it, even now, many years later. God is good! He’s “better felt than ‘telt.'” And God wants to bless you and me through brothers and sisters of a different race.
I encourage you to seek out a Christian of a different race. Share Jesus together and pray. You will be amazed at how much God will bless you!
I had many experiences of ekklesia that summer. Check out my new book: Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.