Ever since the Michael Brown and Eric Garner verdicts were announced, I have been struggling at what I should do. I live in a predominantly white community here in Des Moines and work in an even whiter town an hour east of here. I read a lot of the posts and tweets by some Christian Hip Hop (CHH) artists I respect and admire like Derek Minor, Lecrae, Thi’sl and Alex Medina, and they all mentioned more or less that white folks didn’t really do a good job of coming alongside of the African-American community to show support, empathy and understanding. Or even listen. I heard what they had to say and I struggled on what to do.

And if you think this conversation is over, you’re gravely mistaken. Check out what Andy Mineo freestyle rapped earlier this week on Sway Calloway’s 2014 Doomsday Cypher.

 

I contemplated asking one of the few African-American colleagues I work with to lunch to better understand his thoughts and feelings about the two cases and to learn what discrimination he’s faced in his life. I thought about asking a pastor, who leads a predominantly African-American inner-city church, to coffee.

But to be honest with you, I haven’t worked up the courage to do either.

I have prayed a little about it, seeking God’s wisdom and His heart to help me step off the ledge. And the voice that I hear back is simple: “Just do something.”

The recent plan had been to try to connect my church small group with some folks from the church I mentioned above and meet for an evening of conversation and fellowship. Maybe some new friendships will be birthed? But that was something I was planning to do sometime after the holidays.

Then God made the first move.

Iowa just got drilled with its first snow storm. It wasn’t anything like what Buffalo, NY received this year, but we got between 6-7″ of the most beautiful snow I had seen in a while. After some encouraging prodding from my wife last night, I made my way outside to see if I could start my snowblower since it hadn’t run since the last snow season. Thinking that it was done snowing, I put my snowblower to work and cleaned my driveway and my neighbors’ sidewalks.

But when I went to bed last night, it snowed another inch, and I seriously debated whether or not I’d clear the driveway again. When the alarm sounded this morning, I looked outside and begrudgingly put on a bunch of warm clothes, opened up the garage doors and got started clearing the driveway in -6 (feels like -19) degree weather. Yes, you read that correctly.

While I was shoveling and snow-blowing again, I noticed my new neighbor two doors down hand shoveling his driveway. After I had finished, I looked down the sidewalk to see how much he had left and realized that the snowplows were not kind to their family last night so I pulled my snowblower down the sidewalk to his house.

“Need any help?” I hollered, knowing that he obviously could use the help but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings if he wanted to do it himself. And it was then that I realized I had a new African-American neighbor.

“That would be great!” he exclaimed, and we introduced ourselves to one another. His name is Abdullah and he and his family just moved here from Overland Park, Kansas.  Unfortunately he had parked a car on the street so that plus the end of his driveway had a ton of snow piled up. After I cleared the end of the driveway and freed his car from the wall of snow built around it, we shook hands again and went back inside to warm up.

Thank you God for allowing me the opportunity to help serve my neighbors whether white or African-American. I hope that Abdullah and I get more opportunities to talk and get to know each other. And thank you for the reminder to “just do something.”

Amen.

Erik Carlson, is the founder of Lighten Up Gear and Bald Tees. By day, he manages the digital marketing efforts of a large manufacturing brand. By night, he’s dreaming up shirt designs, playing the guitar and singing. And 24/7/365 he’s following Christ and loving on his wife and 3 children.

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