My husband and I were among the first on line to get a copy of The Skin You Live In: Building Friendships Across Cultural Lines because we have the privilege of being members of Dr. David Ireland’s 6000-member mega church in NJ. Having been a member of several multicultural congregations over the last 15 years, it seemed like an important book for me to read. I know from almost a decade of attending Pastor Ireland's church that he truly desires racial reconciliation and longs to see diversity—not only in the pews as he ministers on Sunday morning, but in the Body of Christ as a whole.
Are you a Christ Follower but find that you do not want to sit next to a person of another race?
Do you cringe at the thought of your son or daughter bringing home a person of another race or culture…especially if the relationship may be romantic?
Then this book is for you.
On the other hand, maybe you think, "I've got this one covered, I am not prejudice."
This book is still for you.
Each of us should ask ourselves, “Do I feel uncomfortable with others who are different than me?” And if so, “Why?”
This book helps you to do just that.
The book intentionally asks hard questions, such as:
* Am I cross-racially attractive?
* Do I unconsciously reject people of other cultures?
* How do I develop strong interracial relationships?
* What skills are needed to have a safe interracial conversation on race?
I found this book to be an easy read despite its sensitive topic.
It reads like a well-written dissertation with plenty of examples of race/cultural conflict and resolution. Most of the steps shared in this book are basic Biblical relational principles that we, as Christians, should be walking out in our life; act neighborly, share common interests, be warm and inviting, offer mutual respect, and respond with kindness. The real-life stories included persuade the reader that racial reconciliation is important as well as necessary. The practical steps, while fairly simple, are helpful as well. A couple of these are: offer hospitality, go on social outings, and practice honesty in relationship.
Dr. Ireland points out that reconciliation starts with stepping out of your comfort zone.
He explains we can really only do this through grace. You can't talk about race reconciliation without talking about its most important element – forgiveness. In Ths Skin You Love In, Dr. Ireland does a wonderful job of talking about why forgiveness is necessary, as well as breaking down what it is and what it is not. A general prayer of forgiveness is included in the book to get the reader started in the process of letting go of past hurts that may prevent furthering relationships.
The book ends with Dr. Ireland sharng his story about the hate and discrimination he experienced as a result of his race.
Then he accepted Christ and it healed him of the pain of victimization. "I emerged from my dorm room as a new believer in Jesus and as a man healed of prejudice and confusion over how I would live and connect with others in our pluralistic and multicultural society." His firsthand experience encourages the reader that race reconciliation is possible.
I would’ve liked a little more insight into the actual process of forgiveness and how it is walked out in everyday life. I believe unless forgiveness takes place, it can be extremely difficult to put into practice the suggestions provided, whether it’s opening up your home or having vulnerable conversations. From experience, I know for healing to take place it’s important to allow the Lord to search our hearts and expose specific places where we've have been hurt or walls have been built. So I highly recommend downloading the study guide here. It provides a prayer that addresses a particular offense or offender. I have learned over the years that forgiveness is an ongoing process that often requires repeated prayer. Over time, the layers of unforgiveness are peeled back and healing begins. To go deeper into the matter, I wish the book included the steps victims can take to repent of judgment and vows that they may have made due to their experiences.
Even though Dr. Ireland shares his personal story, I wanted to hear more about the nitty -gritty of his experience. I felt as though the book was missing a more in-depth account of his journey through victimization to healing. Was it really as easy as Dr. Ireland states? Did it take one prayer or did he have to forgive multiple times? Those details could help me and others through our journey.
This book will touch and transform each one who reads it differently, based on their personal experience.
Even though I thought, "I've got this one covered…", as I read, I allowed the Holy Spirit access to "ping" my heart in the areas where subtle discrimination was buried. I repented of stereotypes and judgments and have had transforming conversations with my husband and friends.
There is no doubt that in a quest to unite people to people and people to God, Dr. David Ireland has poured his heart into this book.
The Skin You Love In is an essential read for anyone looking to improve relationships with others, whether of the same race or not.
For more information on Dr. David Ireland and the other books he has written, visit http://www.davidireland.org .
Today we are giving away a signed copy of the book. Click here and you will be redirected to the right place.