The small crowd is scattered across the bleachers of Lapwai High School’s gym on the nearby Nez Perce reservation. We are gathered to hear Broken Walls, a Christian band who ministers reconciliation between people groups by means of creative worship music and moving ballads.
Jonathan Maracle, the leader of the band, shares his personal struggles growing up on a Mohawk reservation. As a kid who unfortunately inherited his complexion from his Scottish mother instead of his Mohawk father, he suffered bloody noses and bruises just because his skin was white.
Jonathan became a believer, but he still struggled with rejection and with his identity. One night, looking in the mirror, he cried out to God, “Why do I have to look so white? Why didn’t you make me darker?”
At that moment, he heard the Holy Spirit say, “I made you just the way I wanted you. I love you just the way you are.”
That changed everything.
Jonathan embraced his European heritage along with his Native American side. He has travelled and ministered for over 20 years, encouraging people to see the beauty in their own ethnic background, embrace their unique gifts, and practice love and forgiveness toward those of other races.
What does this story about a ministry to Native Americans have to do with being pro-life? Allow me to connect the dots.
As pro-life people, we believe every human being is a uniquely created image-bearer of God, precious in His sight. This is why we fight to save the lives of unborn children. This is why we do all we can to stem the tide of legal abortions.
But there’s more at stake here than the lives of unborn children. Protecting human life in the womb is just the beginning. If we follow the logic all the way through, being pro-life means valuing the life of every person, no matter their race, sex, socio-economic status, or level of mental or physical ability.
In other words, I can’t say I’m pro-life and be prejudiced, condescending, or indifferent toward those of another race. I can’t say I’m pro-life and not be concerned about the rights of women around the globe. I can’t say I’m pro-life and turn away from a disabled or homeless person just because they make me uncomfortable.
This is not about my comfort. It’s about offering honor and dignity to every person because God created them just the way He wanted to, and He loves them just the way they are. It’s about seeing the unique, stunning beauty inherent in every individual and in every people group.
Every culture brings a special flavor to the table. Every group offers traditions and customs that can be redeemed for the glory of God. Every tribe on the planet brings a smile to our Father’s face.
He made them all, and He wants them all.
So Broken Walls travels nationally and internationally, encouraging Native Americans and others to embrace the unique beauty of their own people, while also recognizing and enjoying the beauty in other people groups.
That’s actually a very pro-life thing to do.
After the concert that night, I told Jonathan about my recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and how emotional it was for me as a first-generation German American whose Christian parents suffered under Hitler’s rule.
Germans, I told him, have lost their identity. Out of shame over the Holocaust, it’s almost as if they pretend their history started in 1945.
Jonathan put a hand on my shoulder.
“You need to know that what happened in World War II is not your people’s identity,” he said. “I’ve been to Germany. Germans are such a beautiful people!” With that, he began to expound on qualities he’s seen in the culture there.
I was touched by his words. Hope and dignity washed away layers of shame.
And isn’t that the gift that people of every culture need? Don’t we all need to know we are special and valuable, in God’s eyes and in each other’s? Don’t we need to know we are more than our mistakes and flaws or the color of our skin?
During the concert, the band invited the audience onto the gym floor for a community dance. Native Americans and whites joined hands and formed a long line, weaving and stepping to the rhythm of the music, smiling and giggling and enjoying each other.
Tweet This: How a #prolife ethic breaks down ethnic dividing walls. @SusanneMaynes
Was it awkward? Maybe a little… but oh, it was so beautiful. And what a taste of that which is to come:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
–Revelation 7:9, 10
God wants us all—born or preborn, male or female, Olympic athlete or quadriplegic, people of every race. All are beautifully crafted in His image. All deserve the same dignity.
You never know when or where you might stumble into a situation that helps you further define what it means to be part of the life-affirming mission.
I’m thankful for the ministry of Broken Walls. They’ve made me more pro-life than ever.