Gospel music star Lynda Randle (Source: Facebook.)
Racial injustice and division have been a problem in the United States for many years. But tensions seemed to reach an all-time high last year when George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were killed—and when protests and riots ensued as a result.
Gospel singer Lynda Tait Randle sees the racial disunity, and it breaks her heart. The award-winning music artist knows it breaks God’s heart, too.
“My parents taught me at a very early age to love people,” she says. “It didn’t matter where they came from, what they looked like, how much money they had or didn’t have—you love people.”
While growing up in the inner city, she attended a predominantly white Christian school, which is where she began singing. For Randle, it was like experiencing two different worlds. In fact, throughout her life, Randle has had times when she often studied, worked, and ministered in predominantly white institutions.
Equipped with these experiences, Randle sees herself as a bridge builder.
Her passion is unifying the body of Christ, no matter their skin color or cultural background. And with that motive, she calls herself a “missionary to white America.”
“I had no desire, no passion to be this bridge, but God just did it,” she says. “Every time I’d wake up, it seemed like I was getting contacted by a white pastor or some other person saying, ‘Hey, can you come over here and share your story?’ So I’ve been doing this for many, many years.”
But with tensions and disunity being so high in the last couple of years, Randle says something has to change: “We’ve all heard enough of the rhetoric: ‘Can’t we all just get along? Let’s just be a bridge. The walls are coming down. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All those are great. … But I think this season of just having rhetoric is done. It’s over.”
What does it mean to move past the rhetoric and embrace practical steps toward unity? Randle offers three insights.
1. Understand that racism isn’t dead.
If you’ve never experienced racism personally, it’s easy to think it doesn’t exist anymore. But that’s simply not true.
Sadly, racist words, actions, and beliefs still persist today. Randle has experienced it firsthand more times than she can count.
“I didn’t get rented an apartment once because the lady wanted to know what my nationality and what my color was,” she says. “One of the first letters I got when I sang on Dr. [Jerry] Falwell’s program was from the KKK, literally from Indiana. They called me a [racial obscenity]. They threatened me because I was the first freshman of color ever to sing on national TV with Dr. Falwell.”
Sadly, Randle hasn’t just experienced racism from the secular community—but also from self-proclaimed Christians.
“I was going into these communities and singing in these churches, and people would shake my hand like this,” Randle says. She demonstrates the handshake by gingerly touching her hand with just two fingers. “Like [my skin color] was going to come off. There was so much to navigate.”
Despite her experiences, Randle doesn’t harbor resentment or demand retribution. She just wants God’s people to treat one another with the respect and compassion that Christ calls us to.
For her white brothers and sisters who recognize that racism is a real problem, she offers two more practical suggestions:
2. Expand your circle of friends.
Who do you hang out with? Who’s at your dinner table? What does your circle of friends look like? Randle says that if all your friends look like you, it’s time to make a change.
“I’ll be honest—I’m keeping it real—I don’t want to be most of my white friends’ only black friend. I don’t want to be that person, but it so happens that I often am,” she says.
She encourages believers to spend quality time with friends who don’t look like them, to visit their churches and spend time in their homes.
“For those of you who have children, start getting them books so they can learn about people who don’t look like them,” she says. “You start young, and you start having those conversations.”
3. Welcome diversity at Christian events and in leadership.
There have been many times when Randle was the only person of color to speak or perform at a Christian event. She encourages Christians to make sure their concerts, speaking events, conferences, and leadership boards represent the diversity within the body of Christ.
That’s why, whenever Randle hosts one of her Woman After God’s Own Heart conferences, she makes sure the speakers are diverse—black, white, Latino, and more.
“If we’re not intentional, the unity is never going to happen,” she says. “We have to make a concentrated effort. Maybe we don’t like the same food, or we don’t wear the same clothes, or your hair isn’t like mine, your skin isn’t like mine—but what we have in common is that we’re God’s kids. His blood is running through our veins. So let’s start having those hard conversations.”
Randle hopes to see the body of Christ from all over the nation—and from all types of backgrounds—attend the upcoming 40 Days & 40 Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter, where she will be performing.
The event is set to take place from August 2 to September 10. During those 40 days, Gospel singers and renowned preachers will take the stage to worship and honor God.