O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder;
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee,
How great Thou art!
Swedish pastor Carl Gustaf Boberg formed these words after witnessing a sudden thunderstorm and the calm that followed. His original poem was translated into German, then Russian and English. Stuart K. Hine later added the fourth verse. Popularized at the Billy Graham Crusades, this international hymn is a beautiful melody of our great God and His created work.
Some of the first Bible lessons young children learn are about creation week. The first stunning sunrise and sunset separated each day. The blue and green waters knew their boundaries. The celestial bodies, plant life, and animal kingdom all had varied patterns and shades. Then man and woman were formed from the dust of the ground. Created in God’s image and given the breath of life, they were the “very good” conclusion.
A few years ago, I began to contrast the reality of how children are taught to celebrate the colors in creation versus the colorblind approach toward skin color. Instead of emphasizing that our skin color is every bit a wonderful work of God as creation’s color, we leave gaps in our children’s understanding and ignorant and harmful opinions often fill those voids.
As the first lady of a multicultural church for twenty-two years, I know how powerful it is when people are fully aware and appreciative of each person’s unique and colorful design. Well meaning rhetoric like “I don’t see color” or “we should be colorblind” is intended to downplay discussion on skin color, race, and ethnicity. Because of our shared and painful history full of racialization, many go to an ostrich approach; that is, bury heads in the sand and pretend racial problems don’t exist.
As a black woman, I wish I could stop hearing ongoing stories of children being subject to racial taunting on playgrounds, at swimming pools, and, unfortunately even by fellow Christians. I often elusively wonder; what are the parents teaching their kids about skin color at home?
As I raised my four kids, constantly applying lotion to their chocolate skin, fixing their tight curly hair, looking into their brown eyes, I regularly spoke over them that they are a beautiful work of God, not less than or better than anyone else. Now as teenagers and young adults, they understand that their skin color is part of their identity and that they are God’s most marvelous work.
Imagine if we taught that each person is made in God’s image. Not a colorless person, diminishing their unique heritage and culture, but an intentional and beautiful work of God. Seeds planted in young hearts at home would bear a harvest of righteousness, justice, and peace.
We are all God’s images of living color. See it, teach it, and fully celebrate it!
About the Author
Dorena Williamson’s passion for diversity stems from growing up in a Pastor’s home that welcomed missionaries and people from around the world. In college she met and fell in love with Chris, and in 1992 as newlyweds, they moved to Nashville, TN to further Chris’ Christian rap musical career.
But God had a different plan; He took a Baptist-raised couple, connected them to a Presbyterian, wealthy white church in a historic civil war town, to do urban ministry in the low-income black community.
After watching people come together across racial, economic, and denominational lines, in 1995 they said “yes” to God’s call to plant Strong Tower Bible Church, a multicultural body of believers. Diversity has marked Dorena’s teaching and worship leading around the world, and she has been blessed to contribute to a wide variety of worship music projects. Currently, Dorena works as a stylist for Evereve, a national fashion and styling company.
Dorena’s greatest gifts are the four wonderful children that Chris and she have raised, ages 14, 17, 22 and 24. With the love of a mother and the wisdom of a longtime racial bridge builder, Dorena is passionate about producing literary work that will impact the next generation towards lasting change.