Ouzts Reconciling a Lineage Part Two: Cultural Affinity - Why care

Sparked by the events of 2020 with the divide of beliefs and ideals, I journey back through the people and events that have shaped my passion for reconciliation, specifically through ethnicities.

Ouzts Reconciling a Lineage Part Two: Cultural Affinity - Why care
Photo by Sam Balye / Unsplash

Part One

For those who prefer to listen to the article here you go:

2020 was a unique year for most of the world. It reminded me of the past, both voluntary and forcibly. Voluntary through the fact that the world slowed down and reminiscing and reflection have their environment to thrive. But forcibly through the events that transpired through the year. The passing of my grandfather happened prior to Covid, and the silence of the pandemic allowed me to wrestle with the life he lived.

Within the year, many unique issues came about along the way as well. Tensions of all types were happening. The trust, or should I say the mistrust of the media, was growing. You couple that with the consistent craziness of the political world… chaos reigned. One tension always seems to resurface within the context of America and that is, racial or ethnic problems.

The Ahmaud Arbery and the George Floyd events brought up certain emotions and perspectives from all walks of life. I usually wrestle with problems like this internally and with a close circle of people. However, this time was different, where many people constantly contacted me and asked me numerous questions about these events. Many of them being from my church family.

During the summer of 2020, after George Floyd, I repeated my emotions and feelings on the events to church members, but to those who remember, many public gatherings weren’t happening face-to-face. So a lot of these convos were happening over texts, which is kinda inadequate for expressing the depth of a situation of this magnitude. Thus, I wrote an open letter to my church family, giving them insight into how I view the world and the complexity, but yet… the simplicity of my thoughts. I know that’s a paradox, but humor me as you read or listen.

I think I forgot an important point about the story so far. The church I attend is a predominantly white congregation. So a lot of the conversations I was having during this time were with my brothers and sisters in the faith who are white. The gist of the frame of mind comes from a motto that my dad, Alonzo, first coined:

I’m a Christian, man, who happens to be Black

As I return to the letter I wrote a few years ago, I hope you can see why I’m passionate about reconciliation, specifically ethnic reconciliation. My goal is to weave sections of the letter with some personal stories and background to why I have an affinity for cultures. On to the letter.

Open Letter Part 1

Open Letter to King’s Cross

​It’s been an unfortunate string of events in 2020, with dealing with COVID, social distancing, as well as the rising tension with the racial divide we’re experiencing. If there’s one emotion or feeling I’ve been going through, it would be sadness. From just observing the country’s outcries as a whole, primarily from those of us who identify as Christians, it’s been saddening and frustrating to see the bickering and the back and forth through the media.

​However, I’m naturally optimistic as well with seeing some of the strides made within the church and the community. My hope and joy comes from my faith in Christ. I’ll express later in the letter where my peace comes from in all of the turmoil that’s going on in our world. To give you a glimpse of who I consistently strive to be in life, below is my Personal Mission Statement.

Personal Mission Statement
I filter my outlook through my faith in Christ, being grateful for the gifts I’ve been blessed with and to remain humble in all things. Understanding that excellence is diligence plus biblical integrity over time.

As a kid, I remember my dad speaking to me about the realities of growing into being a man, and more specifically growing to be a black man. He expressed that I have to be able to control my emotions, not suppress them, but to control them. I’m not naive that I may not get the luxury in a tense situation, but I’ve learned to de-escalate situations by being in control of me. Some may say that I shouldn’t have to deal with that, and they’re right. However, that’s the cross I have to bear, and I’m capable of doing it.

Early Influence

Returning to my present thoughts. My nuclear family upbringing has spurred my passion for reconciliation. My parents were/are a major reason I care. Reconciling was something we always look to do in our home through the acts of forgiveness and discussion. I saw this lived out in my home, especially by my father.

My dad was the head of the Men’s ministry at our church home called Mentrotone Baptist Church in the late 90s. One man, Ricky Lyons, presented the ministry with an opportunity to go to a men’s conference hosted by an organization called the Promise Keepers.

The tagline of the ministry:

Building on the Past to Redefine the Future.

Their vision:

The new Promise Keepers are committed to connecting men across all denominational, generational, racial, and cultural lines.

The Promise Keepers looked to partner churches of differing backgrounds and cultures to find common ground. Now, I’m a preschooler during this time-frame, but my dad has talked about this story frequently. This event has indirectly influenced me, and I am eternally grateful. Shoutout to the Burke Community Church in Northern Virginia who partnered with our church.

Mentrotone again was a baptist church with black congregation with quite a few congregants on the geriatric side of life, whereas Burke was majority a non-denominational church that was predominantly white. Burke’s mens group came to visit our church in the heart of Southeast DC. For the older crowd, you may know what DC was affectionally referred to for sometime as Chocolate City, because of the high black demographic.

Picture with me a sizable group of white men driving and riding motorcycles to Southeast DC. A common phrase that was used when someone foreign comes into your neighborhood is: “You lost, bruh? 🧐”. One can imagine the facial expressions and the awkwardness of the interaction. Remember, a lot of the men’s ministry at Mentrotone was older and grew up during the height of the Jim Crow south and experienced segregation. I think tension is an understatement.

Everything was going smoothly during the fellowship and building some camaraderie. Both black and white men were singing praises to Jesus and enjoying the unity of common ground. During the service, one of the Pastor’s from Burke stopped, more like paused everything to say: “Something is still not right.”

Good times are going on, but there’s still tension, and he just raised it to another level. Again, my dad was the head of the Men’s ministry, as he tells it, he stood straight up, ‘cause he doesn’t know what this man is going to say. However, through the prodding of his convictions, the pastor from Burke walked to one of our older deacons.

I’m paraphrasing Burke’s pastor dialogue where he said, “I would like to ask for forgiveness on behalf of my ancestors who have treated you and your family unjustly. I love you and I’m grateful for you.” He hugged the deacon and as everyone who was there said, there was not a dry eye in the sanctuary.

One thing I love about this event and the boldness of this man was he came to this not because of some wack philosophy called white fragility. He was convinced based on what he believed through the truth the Bible explained. And, yes, I know the Bible was used to perpetuate slavery in the US, but that was a horrible and unbiblical interpretation.

Unfortunately, this was the peak of reconciliation at our church then because of the insecurities of our head pastor at the time, who thought Burke was going to steal his congregation from him. Every group has culpability in reconciliation. A fun note is part of the story has come full circle.

Promise Keepers had fizzled down through the early 2000s, but recently has been growing a resurgence. My dad, uncle, and I was able to attend an event, by them in St. Pete, FL. It was a dope experience to see men of multiple generations and backgrounds come together under common ground. It was like a family reunion because of so many from my dad and uncle’s generation attended the events in 90’s and was sharing their different stories. It was a little taste of heaven on earth.

I’m going to pick up where I left off from my letter to my church.

Letter Part 2


I’m very grateful for all the members that have reached out to the black community and myself during this time frame. I laugh a little because most of you I’ve spoken to are angrier and more frustrated than I am in these situations, and that fills me with joy to see my white brothers and sisters wanting to make sure I’m alright.

What is Love?

I’ve always had a problem with how love is portrayed, especially within the English language, because there are multiple layers to it. I’m with the Greeks for having different words for love. At its core, I believe love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion, and it’s expressed both by actions and words. Don’t get me wrong; feelings and emotions are what make us human, and they are present in the different types of love, but fundamentally love is a choice.

One of my favorite quotes on love comes from a song by the group Commissioned:

Love isn’t love ‘til you’ve given it away

I believe God says that in so many ways and verses, but is revealed plainly in the most famous verse of the Bible:

John 3:16
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

From my perspective the two virtues in love, that seem to escape our American culture as a whole, are patience and listening. Unfortunately in our non-stop world, these two virtues are seen as passive, but they’re not when used properly. The result of patience and listening, grants wisdom and understanding in a situation or circumstance. With that we can get to the point where we can forgive other’s who offend us and live in peace amongst ourselves.

Colossians 3:12 - 15
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Racial Reconciliation

In these situations, we are called to forgive, not excuse, but to forgive. Christ exemplified it on the cross (Luke 23:34), when he forgave people even in their ignorance. God is a just God, and justice will ultimately be served in His timing. As it pertains to the riots, I understand the pain of my community, but I don’t agree, nor do I condone the actions. I’m pretty sure these riots are going to make my life more difficult in the coming days, but so be it.

Racial unity is one of my passions because I like other cultures in general. I have a plethora of friends from numerous walks of life, be it black, white, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Indian, Native. In America, though, Black and White are the crux of the racial disunity.

Cultural Affinity

Back to present me. I’ve always had an affinity for different cultures. I grew up in a melting pot, being next to the nation’s capital, it comes with the territory. With being blessed with natural gifts of being proficient in both academia and athletics, those avenues opened doors and experiences that have helped shaped how I interact with people.

I’ve always been curious… to a fault sometimes. Lord knows how many times I’ve gotten into trouble for going a little too far in my curiosities. In the sports arena, the sport I played the most in was baseball, which opened up experiences of different cultures in unique ways. The beauty of sports is that there’s a common goal as a team and you care more about who someone is and not where they come from.

One of my good friends, Leo, is of Filipino descent and we became friends prior to HS playing boys’ and girls’ club baseball. Our friendship grew through school, to where he invited me to a cookout after our graduation. Food was involved, so I definitely was going 😏. I was the only person of a different culture there. It wasn’t a traditional American cookout, with hamburgers or hot dogs. I couldn’t even tell you what dishes I ate. Though, it’s in my top 10 favorite food experiences, and it was dope.

We talked, played games and sports (I had to represent on the basketball court). It was just a good time and I’m grateful to Leo and his fam and friends for their hospitality and the fun we had that day.

My first two years of playing college baseball at PG Community College, I had a melting pot of teammates. For that stretch, we had guys from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Black, White, we even had someone of Middle Eastern descent on the squad. When you have people on your squad from the islands, just know there ain’t eva a dull moment. Double negative on purpose.

I’ll continue on this point, but let’s get back to the letter for a bit.

Letter Part 3

Piggybacking from earlier in the letter, when having conversations and discussions about the problems, please be patient and listen. Drop your guards and seek to understand and speak to be understood. Trying to win a conversation or discussion is not going to persuade anyone. God softens the heart and brings the increase; you be faithful in your convictions.

One of my favorite people in scripture outside of Christ, is Joseph. I identify with his life at different points of mine. Speaking of Joseph, the verse below is after he becomes second in command in Egypt, after being sold into slavery in a foreign land, falsely accused and put in jail, and meeting his brother’s who sold him there.

Genesis 50:20 - 21
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

This account parallels one of my favorite scriptures in the New Testament:

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

To believe that God is ultimately in control, and that good can come from the evil of any situation, is to trust in God’s divine sovereignty. Reconciliation is going to be a long progression, and it’s something that I believe isn’t forced but happens organically through getting to know people on an individual and fundamental levels. If we want to see impactful change within our communities, we must start with the truth revealed in God’s word.

2 Chronicles 7:14
14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Matthew 6:33
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Understanding Oneness

Back to the Present. A great quote that Tony Evans brings up in his book Oneness Embraced is:

“The reason we haven’t solved the race problem in America after hundreds of years is that people apart from God are trying to create unity, while people under God who already have unity are not living out the unity we possess.”

I had the privilege of going to Gordon college in Massachusetts. It was probably the first time in my life where I could tell I was a minority, but it was such an enjoyable experience through the people I met and grew close to. I am grateful to God for placing the unique community we formed as a group.

The inner group of the crew I hung out with are my friends Christian, Jon, and Dokes. The irony of this is Christian is first-gen Colombian-American, Jon is second-gen Greek-American, Dokes is first-gen Nigerian-American, and my lineage has been here the longest, go figure. Just outside of the inner crew we had:

  • Elisha & Yoch - who were fraternal twins and are first-gen Brazilian-Americans
  • Rebecca - who is originally from Switzerland and ended marrying a guy who’s from the D.R. in Luis.
  • Adrianna - who is a white from New York who was a vital glue person to the group.

As a group, we played a lot of board games together especially, Blokus and Mafia… (I’m still salty about Rebecca choosing to execute me, instead of Jon in a famous mafia final round, but I digress.) Also, we would do Bible Study together where Rebecca would host and Elisha was the one who started it and lead the study.

I can go on and on about others, but I want to highlight two people who I had some great interactions with there as well. I remember my boy Chan Yoon, who is from South Korea, and this is my dude. He has such an infectious love for Christ, is so encouraging and he’s non-stop. The funniest moment I had with Chan was both of our first year at Gordon, and we lived in the same dorm. He had asked me to cut his hair and give him a fade at that. It was hilarious that whole sequence and I didn’t mess up his cut either.

The second person I want to shout out is my guy Danny Biz. I remember one night during my second year at Gordon; we had a floor testimony time and Danny shared his story. He lived and survived through the Rwandan Genocide, that was depicted in documentaries and theatrical showing in the movie Hotel Rwanda.

The most important relationship I shared with all the people I listed and talked about was our relationship with Jesus. We didn’t change or assimilate our cultures to get along or compromise ourselves. No, we enjoyed our differences, which actually accentuated or enhanced our unity in Christ because we’re siblings through his blood and resurrection. It wasn’t perfect, but it gave me a taste of what could be when we align ourselves with one purpose that supersedes us.

I ran into a quote by Chuck Swindoll that explains this section better than I can:

Fortunately, God made all varieties of people with a wide variety of interests and abilities. He has called people of every race and color who have been hurt by life in every manner imaginable. Even the scars of past abuse and injury can be the means of bringing healing to another. What wonderful opportunities to make disciples! - Chuck Swindoll

Transitioning back to the letter.

Letter Part 4


Where I get peace from in all of this is that God is my refuge, and I trust He will continue to protect me. Also, I know where I’ll be when the day comes when I do pass on, that’s where my confidence lies. I’m going to continue to press on to live my life as a sermon. It’s not about being “overly spiritual” it’s where my hope lies, and I refuse to hate those who look different than me.

One of my favorite monologues in all of scripture comes from Paul in the latter part of Romans 8.

Romans 8:31-37
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

These words are so calming, comforting, and victorious, and they give me so much worth as a person. That the God of the universe cares for all of us, and we are called His. Then Paul reaches the climax of probably the entire book (in my opinion) of Romans in the last two verses of the chapter.

Romans 8:38-39
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


I say all of this to express I’m good through all of this turmoil that’s been going on. To reiterate my appreciation for the thoughts and prayers that have been directed to me during this time. I like having these conversations and would invite anyone to ask questions about my thoughts on this subject and others. I’m an open book when it comes to these types of conversations. My dad and I live by a motto that reflects our identity for several years now:

I’m a Christian, Man, who happens to be Black.

I’m proud to be a member of King’s Cross and anticipate the next stage of growth in our church as we come out of these stressful times. Love you all and looking forward to seeing everyone soon, when the church is back up and running and directing you where to park.

Who Cares

That was the end of the letter. I hope I have instilled a sense of encouragement to you with what could be as I close this part of this series. If you’re not Christian or don’t believe what I believe, I hope you hear my sincerity and the optimism for what true reconciliation looks like. I wanted to brag selfishly about some people I cherish in my life.

Thank you for listening and reading.

God Bless,



  1. Evans, T. (2022). Oneness embraced: A kingdom race theology for reconciliation, unity, and Justice. Moody Publishers.