Dr. MelindaJoy Mingo, or “Dr. MJ” (as her students affectionately call her) is a fantastic communicator who uses real life stories to connect us with her passion for humanity. Peyton Jones and Grant Skeldon waste no time getting to the heart of this recent “candid conversation” on reconciliation — and we learn why “reconciliation” may not even be the best, most effective term.
Dr. MJ lays the groundwork by defining reconciliation for the remainder of the conversation as an intentional realignment and recalibration of human dignity and worth. For her, it’s about seeing people the way God sees them, and approaching them like Jesus.
“We make it so difficult to relate when all we have to do is suspend our assumptions and stereotypes and be willing to take a risk to get rid of everything we think we know about people and become an insider through the love of Jesus!”
-Dr. MelindaJoy Mingo
Her personal story reflects this understanding of love. At only five months old, her father was brutally killed by a white man, and her mother was deeply traumatized and eventually gave her away. Dr. MJ admittedly responded by giving into her hate and anger, becoming a “staunch racist.” She says this phrase with a sly smile and even acknowledges her joy. Not because she was a racist, obviously. But because of the redemptive power of Jesus!
She shares her struggle with courage. Most of us understand the fear associated with revealing our negative stories. But she shares bravely, admitting, “We all have stories we don’t want to share.” People praise the end but rarely expose the beginning. And her beginning was rough. She desired to be white, while simultaneously hating white people.
Peyton goes deeper into her story by asking about her time in Vietnam. This story is incredible. It’s unusual. She spoke of being afraid, feeling out of place, but in it all she desired to become a friend of the people. She chose to become an “insider” by becoming first a friend.
This is the heart of her book, The Colors of Culture. Dr. MJ encourages us to live like Jesus. To break down the cultural walls of hostility by humbling ourselves in an effort to honor the “other.” She claims it’s not about simply reconciling an “area” of the country or a city, but about ultimately restoring the human worth and dignity of every person.
How do we do this? How do we lead with love? Especially if we are only now realizing our own, personal racial biases and/or privilege?
Dr. MJ, like any great teacher, gives us a wonderful way to remember what it takes prepare our own hearts for the work or “righteousness” that leads to reconciliation. Remember T-R-U-E…
T – take the TIME to learn about others and humbly set aside your assumptions
R – treat everyone with RESPECT regardless of how you may disagree
U – reach an UNDERSTANDING of what it’s like to be a part of other cultures
E – listen with EMPATHY to the stories of others
I’m not looking to go back to school but I’d consider auditing a class with Dr. MJ. Her lived experiences provide the foundation for her passion. It’s a passion for human worth and dignity. It’s a passion she shares with a compassionate Jesus. Check out this free replay of the wonderful conversation with a wise woman of God!