Issues and Answers

Creating Bridges In The Midst Of Diversity

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Delbert Baker, Karen Thomas


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000078

00:02 ¤ ¤
00:31 Welcome to Issues and Answers. Today we're going to have the
00:34 topic Creating Bridges in the Midst of Diversity. How do we
00:37 reach out to people that are different than we are? That is
00:40 what we're going to talk about today with our guest Dr. Delbert
00:44 Baker. He is the author of the book Make Us One. This book says
00:48 at the back of the book, at a time when technology has
00:51 brought the world's population together in a global community
00:55 the forces of separatism, tribal warfare, ethnic rivalry and
00:58 racism seem to be out of control How do we build bridges in the
01:02 midst of diversity? Welcome to the program today.
01:05 Thank you. So what is diversity?
01:07 Diversity. Diversity is dealing with differences, differences
01:13 with people, different styles, different approaches and
01:17 probably most popular that we deal with diversity relates to
01:22 age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual
01:26 orientation or preference is
01:28 another one, learning styles and differences. These are sections
01:32 of diversity that basically can be boiled down to the word
01:36 differences. We are different and because we're different we
01:39 have to find ways of getting along with one another and
01:43 creatively building bridges so that we can better communicate
01:46 and better relate and better accomplish our mission whatever
01:50 that mission may be.
01:51 Now there's a lot of talk about people coming together in unity
01:57 these days. Does diversity include all kinds of people
02:02 coming together and accepting all kinds of differences. What
02:06 is the Christian perspective on diversity?
02:07 Well that's a great question because your philosophy toward
02:11 that would determine how you deal with diversity. If you see
02:14 diversity as being you get different people and you
02:18 assimilate then together into one basic group that would
02:21 determine how you deal with it. Now on the other hand, if you
02:25 see unity in the midst of diversity, as they say often,
02:28 that means that you can have differences and still find
02:31 commonalities or ways to unite. And I think that's what we deal
02:35 with from a Christian perspective is the fact that we
02:38 have differences and as long as these differences don't
02:41 violate the principles of the word of God, we're OK. But from
02:44 a Christian perspective, if the differences, whatever your
02:48 diversity may be, comes to a point where it smacks against
02:52 the principles as outlined by the Bible, then you've got a
02:55 challenge. Then you've got an issues of allegiance; who are
02:58 you going to follow. Are you going to follow the mores of the
03:00 world or the standards and issues that the world deals with
03:04 or are you going to submit to the rulership of God and his
03:07 word as outlined in the Bible?
03:10 Now you have been a special assistant to the president of
03:14 Loma Linda University and specifically as a director
03:18 of diversity. And you're also president of Oakwood College
03:22 which is a _ school so you have quite a broad
03:25 experience on dealing with differences. What can you say
03:28 for those that are in leadership positions and
03:31 how to handle diversity.
03:32 Well my background with diversity actually preceded my
03:35 time at Loma Linda University
03:37 when I was editor of Message Magazine we dealt with a number
03:40 of things with diversity and even prior to that my doctoral
03:43 program at Howard University, my area was organizational
03:46 communication. So a key part of that was dealing with
03:50 communication in terms of organizations. How do we
03:53 effectively communicate in a very diverse organization.
03:56 And to be affective you have to factor in differences so one
04:01 thing led to the other. Lynn Behrens who was the president
04:05 of Loma Linda University at the time I became the one in charge
04:09 of leading out in the diversity program had a wonderful vision.
04:13 Her vision was that Loma Linda University should be a model of
04:17 diversity; a Christian institution that exalts or holds
04:21 out the word of God as the principle. At the same time
04:25 though one that could deal with diverse differences. So she
04:28 brought me in and together we were able to create the
04:32 framework, the outline for the diversity program that Loma
04:36 Linda currently has. Now Les Power is the director of
04:40 diversity at this time. But from 1992 to 1996 we there had the
04:45 wonderful privilege of working at Loma Linda and establishing
04:49 a diversity program for that institution, in particular the
04:53 Medical Center in a direct way and a variety of other related
04:57 institutions.
04:58 Now what were some of the components of the program?
05:01 OK, I referred to some at the beginning. Our approach to a
05:04 diversity had to deal with learning differences for one.
05:08 People learn differently and if a faculty member, if an
05:12 instructor or a lecturer understands the differences
05:15 in learning styles that's helpful. If you think that
05:18 everyone's going to learn in exactly the same way that's
05:21 problematic because you would have a style that kind of goes
05:24 in a certain direction and so you're not flexible enough to
05:27 deal with differences there. The other issue had to do with
05:32 age; the fact that as people age as they get older there's a
05:35 different style, a different approach to life. Can we deal
05:38 with that or do we want to block everyone in the same kind of
05:41 way from the early years, the middle years, the later years.
05:45 And so there's an appreciation for that and the fact that we
05:48 have to be accepting of all the different ages. OK then there
05:52 is the international or the cultural diversity that dealt
05:55 with people from different countries. I think that's
05:58 probably the more obvious of the diversity areas because you
06:00 know we know different people from different cultures. They
06:03 come in with that. So that was one. Then there's the issue of
06:06 our religious diversity and Loma Linda dealt with that. It's a
06:09 Seventh-day Adventist institution but it's still
06:12 respectful and accepting of other religious faiths or
06:17 beliefs. Then we dealt with ethnic or racial diversity. It's
06:20 probably one of the hot ones, you know. The fact that there's
06:23 the white/black issue, the brown /yellow issue. How do we deal
06:25 with different people who often compete for the same resources
06:28 and have different backgrounds and how do we bring them
06:32 together in the spirit of Christian unity and love and
06:35 make this thing work. That was a challenging area. So those were
06:38 some of the main areas that we looked at there and probably the
06:41 main areas in Christian circles. The additional area that
06:47 probably is sensitive because of different views and philosophies
06:52 is sexual, the sexual diversity area. That deals with gays and
06:56 lesbians, the whole issue of the homosexual lifestyle. It deals
07:00 with how do you deal with that in light of the principles of
07:05 the word of God. So Loma Linda had a very clear position toward
07:09 that. Basically it said, we are tolerant and respectful of all
07:14 persons and what their belief is, however, we espouse the
07:19 sexual model as outlined by the word of God which is
07:24 heterosexual. So that's basically the summary of the
07:28 different approaches to diversity and any one of those
07:32 topics probably could take a lot of our time.
07:35 Well let me ask you going now from the higher education level
07:40 of policy and procedures that are necessary to run an
07:43 institution now, bringing it to say a church level, a local
07:49 congregation. How is the best way to handle your church
07:54 becoming diverse. Cities, neighborhoods change.
07:59 Populations, ethnic groups will come and shift and go. What is
08:04 the model for that?
08:05 Well there are a number of ways we can look at that. I'll share
08:09 with you a word that many of our viewers may not be
08:11 acquainted with, it was new to me some years ago. I met this
08:16 wonderful person who was working with the diversity
08:19 program at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. His name
08:22 was Eric Jolly, he was a Native American and in fact we invited
08:27 him to Loma Linda to do a program. And he shared with us
08:30 the word that I think is a very powerful one that relates to how
08:33 to effectively deal with diversity and he said the
08:37 diversity is effortful. And I think it's self-explanatory but
08:42 the point is it takes energy. It doesn't just happen. A lot
08:46 of people just say well I just love the Lord, I love one
08:50 another and therefore it's all going to happen. No, no, not so.
08:53 Diversity is probably one of the most challenging aspects of our
08:56 experience and the human experience because we like to be
08:59 with people who like us. We like to be with people who like us
09:02 and who think what we think, do what we do and so forth. And if
09:05 we meet someone who doesn't do that it often throws us off, our
09:08 equilibrium gets thrown off. You know how does a person do what
09:11 they're doing here and so forth. And so diversity says you have
09:15 to kind of go out of that and be appreciative and aware of people
09:18 who are different and it takes effort so it's effortful. There
09:21 are a few words we want to look at. One is sensitivity. Dealing
09:25 with diversity you have to be sensitive to the reality of
09:28 diversity, of differences. If you simply say well they all
09:30 look the same to me, I love everybody and I don't see what
09:33 color you are, I don't see what gender you are, and as you say
09:37 that, that may be true from the standpoint of you're not holding
09:40 that against me but that's a part of who I am. You're a
09:45 female, I'm a male. A person is from this area, from that area,
09:48 they're older, they're younger, they're whatever ethnic group
09:52 they are. So you have to factor that in and be sensitive to that
09:55 Don't let it be an obstacle or a stumbling block but be sensitive
09:58 to it. And then we should be accepting of it. The fact is as
10:01 long as it's not a violation of the word of God we should be
10:04 willing to accept the differences that God has
10:07 allowed and God has blessed the world with. Then we should be
10:11 somewhat, and I have to be careful with this word when we
10:14 say tolerant, because a lot of things come under tolerance.
10:17 People do a lot of bad things under the word tolerance or they
10:20 can be very awkward or uncomfortable with the word
10:22 tolerance. But there is something to it in that if we're
10:26 tolerant that means that if you're different I can tolerate
10:30 your differences. So some of the things you do may annoy me but I
10:34 can deal with that because you're a child of God, I'm a
10:37 child of God and we both have a right to be who we are. So those
10:41 are some of the principles that a person can use in the local
10:44 congregation, in whatever school or company or whatever it is.
10:48 These are some working principles that would help guide
10:51 you. But it takes more than that too. You go back to the word
10:54 effortful. You've got to get out of your circle. You've got to
10:57 get out of your little small world. I'm not talking about you
11:00 Karen. Say whoever the person is you know.
11:01 It could be anybody right? If you've had maybe one
11:04 particular background in which you've been raised. I just
11:09 happen to be raised near Andrews University where there's a lot
11:11 of diversity, but a lot of people don't have that
11:13 opportunity. Maybe they just grew up in a neighborhood where
11:17 there's one kind of person or beyond race how about economics?
11:21 That's right, that's another one And so you've got to move out of
11:25 that circle whatever that is. I suggest things like invite some
11:30 to your home for dinner who is very different than you.
11:32 OK, let's just kind of walk through this now from the church
11:37 down to the individual. What would be the best way, because
11:41 sometimes people wonder you know well can you say something
11:45 that's not appropriate or you know for a person maybe who has
11:49 not had that kind of a background where you're used to
11:51 dealing with people who are very different than you are. What
11:55 kind of advice do you give?
11:56 Well I think it's clear that you know a lot about the area of
11:59 diversity. Those are some of the key areas that a person would
12:01 want to be sensitive to. Probably the greatest
12:07 safeguard in the area of diversity is probably the word
12:10 sincerity. If you are sincerely seeking to reach out that covers
12:16 a multitude of snafus and blunders. You know, everything
12:21 from those people to you people to the way you do it. There
12:25 could be a offensive to your group. In the public setting the
12:29 standard's a little higher and so if you're the leader they
12:31 anticipate that you'll know something about diversity.
12:33 you won't make the politically
12:37 inept statements. People make them all the time.
12:40 I know and I'm not into this political correctness. I know a
12:43 lot of our viewers may have different views on this but I
12:46 think that the leader has got to be sensitive. They have to know
12:49 what works. You can't just say things that offend people and
12:52 just throw them off and... You do a little study and a little
12:56 listening it will help you to be more in tune with how to say
12:59 something and how not to say it. You know, not to be a
13:03 stumbling block if you don't have to be. At the same time, I
13:07 say on the side of the person who is receiving the sent
13:10 message from the speaker, that is if they see the sincerity of
13:15 the person maybe they can give a little grace and give a little
13:18 room so even if the person says something that's not exactly
13:22 right they won't mark them off immediately. So sensitivity is
13:27 an important part on the side of the receiver but being aware and
13:31 educated is important on the side of the sender, the one who
13:34 is speaking. Now let me tell you what we're doing at
13:38 Oakwood. A pretty exciting program. The point you made at
13:41 the very beginning, you said here you are coming from Loma
13:44 Linda University and you were in charge of the diversity
13:46 program and going to Oakwood College which is predominantly a
13:50 black school. Persons of color attend there. How did you work
13:53 that out? Well first of all Oakwood is open enrollment so
13:56 anybody can come who wants to. So the fact that it's
13:59 predominantly black is not by choice. Those are the ones who
14:03 go there. We have about six or seven percent white persons
14:07 the Caucasians who are attending Oakwood and the number is
14:10 growing. We encourage diversity at Oakwood as well as anywhere
14:14 else. So that's the point there. But what we did... I have a
14:17 pride in Oakwood, I'm a graduate of Oakwood, I graduated in 1975.
14:20 So when I became president in 1996 I said we've got to do
14:25 something about this thing. So diversity isn't naturally
14:28 happening at Oakwood meaning that we don't have these large
14:32 numbers of different racial groups coming. So let's import
14:36 diversity. How's that for a notion, import it. So Gordon
14:40 Beitz, the president of Southern Adventist University
14:43 and I got together and we were brainstorming... In fact it was
14:46 kind of a wonderful experience, I shouldn't say wonderful, I
14:49 should say providential experience. We were traveling
14:52 with a number of individuals from the Southern Union in these
14:57 Southern Asian countries. We happened to be in Cambodia when
15:02 the coup took place a few years ago in Phnom Pehn. And Gordon
15:06 and myself along with the other presidents were locked into that
15:10 hotel in downtown Phnom Pehn when the coup was taking place,
15:14 the bombs were taking place. Literally Friday night and
15:17 Saturday we were locked in that hotel and we were praying, we
15:20 were praying. It was a very dangerous situation. It was
15:24 there that we said, listen we've got these days here, we were
15:26 locked in there about four or five days. We couldn't leave the
15:28 country. We said let's plan it now. So the two of us got
15:30 together and we began to develop this idea of diversity. How can
15:33 we import it into our campuses.
15:34 See that's a whole other program how with bombs going on all
15:38 around you, you guys were doing your work.
15:41 God was with us and we worked well. So we came up with what we
15:45 call DEEP Diversity Educational Exchange Program. It's going
15:49 on four years now. Basically what we did, we took seven
15:52 students from the Oakwood campus persons of color and seven
15:56 persons from the Southern Adventist University campus
15:59 Anglo-Americans, Caucasians and we swapped them for one semester
16:04 each year. We literally had the blacks go to Southern and the
16:08 whites to go to Oakwood and what we did. What we did was we kind
16:11 of created a diversity program to increase the sensitivity of
16:14 our campuses. Are we aware of the issues? How does another
16:18 group look at what we do. And it's done some wonderful things
16:21 for us. We've been doing this for 11 years now and now we're
16:23 even involved in our administration
16:25 we're having retreats together with the
16:27 administrative teams and we're even working with faculty
16:30 changing as well. So I'm just using this as an example, an
16:33 illustration to say that with creativity churches can do
16:37 wonderful things. When I was a pastor we would swap pulpits.
16:41 and don't simply swap the same. Don't _ say no. They say
16:45 well every choir come to our church. That's good, but do
16:48 more than just sing. Do more than just playing sports.
16:52 I mean get together for meaningful discussions. Share
16:55 the preaching of the word, pastor swapping and Bible
16:57 study groups and activities together so people can get to
17:01 know one another on an effective personal, one-to-one basis.
17:05 That's a more powerful factor that the Bible brings out. Love
17:09 comes in. You see love says that when we understand we have
17:13 differences, we're different, we understand that, when we see
17:17 that you're OK in spite of the differences, you're a child of
17:21 God and have problems dealing with issues like I do. By so
17:25 doing we can build bridges, via love and via this
17:28 interpersonal relationship in ways that we never dreamed of
17:31 before. So there's some exciting things, Karen, that a person and
17:33 a church and a company can do.
17:35 OK, now going to witnessing to people who are very different
17:40 than you are. Now the Seventh- day Adventist lifestyle is
17:44 pretty much one that's based in the Bible and compared to the
17:49 lifestyle of the world it's very different. How can a Christian
17:53 even if the person is not a Seventh-day Adventist, how
17:55 can a Christian reach out to say the homosexual community, to the
18:01 drug community, I mean people who are involved in drugs and
18:04 maybe to the rich, to the poor? Give us some of those kinds of
18:06 examples. Hot topic there, a real tough
18:09 one there. Well there are ways to do it. There are definitely
18:14 ways to do it. It takes more thought and more planning than
18:18 the normal areas of diversity. Because the issues of the gay/
18:23 lesbian lifestyle is one that is so controverted in the
18:27 Christian community. I think when you're talking about the
18:30 vices, when you're talking about drugs, smoking and the immoral
18:35 lifestyle, I think those are very clear. I mean Christians
18:37 know that and the non- Christians know that.
18:39 But the one with the gay/ lesbian lifestyle, that's a
18:42 little more sensitive.
18:43 Well why do you think people categorize those separately?
18:46 _ sin. I think we rate sin. I think we say this
18:50 sin is worse than another sin. And there is still the stigma
18:53 attached to the gay/lesbian lifestyle. Christians struggle
18:57 with it. They don't know how to deal with it and many people
19:00 feel uncomfortable with it and so therefore when one is
19:02 around them they get homophobia. They become very negative, very
19:07 discriminatory. They react in a way that is not Christ like. They
19:12 will in many cases become a bad witness by the way they deal
19:19 with the gay/lesbian group. You know, I'm sure you plan to do
19:23 a subject of this alone and bring some individuals in and
19:27 talk about this, but let me just share a point or two that I
19:30 think might be helpful in a cursory sense when a person
19:34 is dealing with this. That is first you've got to take away
19:37 the fear of it. I mean you can't look at homosexual and fear them
19:43 or like they're dirty, or they're not a human being.
19:46 That is not the way that Christ dealt with people who were out
19:51 of the mainstream. We have to see them as children of God,
19:55 people who God loves, that he wants in his kingdom. And if we
19:59 have that basic understanding when we go to them, we won't
20:02 have the... we won't exude this negativism, this sense of I'm
20:06 better than you. You poor thing. I would help you by coming your
20:09 way and I'll talk to you if you can get yourself together.
20:11 Number two, we need to understand that in particular
20:15 the gay/lesbian lifestyle may be more complicated than some
20:20 of the other clear-cut sins. There's often history to it and
20:24 there may be family issues or other issues that impact. So we
20:27 shouldn't come to it was a pat simple answer. We say well
20:30 brother get your life together. You just accept Jesus Christ
20:34 and that's it. You drop everything. It's not that simple
20:39 so often. And the third thing is you need to exercise love,
20:45 accepting love. That you love that person and that even though
20:49 they have a lifestyle that you know is not consistent with the
20:53 word of God and you're going to work on that. That you want to
20:57 show love and concern for that person. Reach out to them and
21:01 let them see the unconditional love that you
21:03 have for them and you still respect them as a person of
21:07 dignity and a child of God. So with those three points and with
21:11 a background, I think you share the gospel. I think you talk
21:15 about Jesus, you talk about his love, you talk of his wonderful
21:19 accepting posture. You talk about righteousness by faith.
21:22 You talk about heaven to gain and a hell to shun. I mean you
21:25 go ahead and witness and you do the thing that the Lord
21:27 impresses you with.
21:28 Now what about reaching out to the Muslim community?
21:31 Oh the Muslim community. That's very diverse especially in light
21:35 of 9/11, September 11. I think we have some real challenges as
21:40 it relates to people from other countries and there's this fear
21:44 factor tied in with anger and rage and tied in with a sense of
21:48 frustration that we've gone through since September 11.
21:50 As we all know, the world is a very different place than it was
21:54 September 10. Many individuals said that following that when
21:59 they got on the plane they start looking at the names of
22:03 individuals who they're with or how they looked or... Did they
22:07 look like they're suspicious? So we have to be very careful of
22:11 how we view them and feel like because of what happened, and
22:16 we know that the individuals involved in the attack on the
22:20 World Trade Center were of a certain cultural background and
22:24 religious belief that we don't globalize and generalize and say
22:28 that everyone's in the same category. I would say the same
22:33 point. We have to approach it in a very rational, a very thinking
22:36 manner and know that everyone's not involved in it any more than
22:39 McVey when he was involved in the situation in Oklahoma City
22:43 at the federal building there. I mean, didn't think it's all
22:46 persons who were in the armed forces or who looked like him or
22:49 who came from his background. You didn't do it there so we
22:52 shouldn't do it as it relates to Islam. I think the principle is
22:56 operative, it stays the same there, the sense of
22:59 understanding. You know the Bible says in Proverbs,
23:01 wonderful book of Proverbs, it says understanding is the best
23:04 thing in the world, get understanding and I think
23:06 that's what we really need to focus on. Diversity requires
23:08 that we have understanding and it causes us to think out of the
23:12 box, think out of our personal box and seek to be sensitive
23:16 to different people.
23:17 What role do you think diversity will have in the last days?
23:20 Oh boy that's a great question. Love in diversity and love in
23:24 the last days is a powerful topic that we really have to
23:28 think about more. I believe God is going to do something
23:31 marvelous in this church and our country as time winds down and
23:35 it's going to have to do with love, people setting aside their
23:38 differences, forgetting who they are, their hang-ups, their
23:42 complexes, their superiority complexes, their inferiority
23:45 complexes and coming together to meet one another on a personal
23:48 basis. And the individual that God is going to use is the one
23:52 who is going to be sensitive and willing to set aside their
23:56 differences, to reach out and to love one another in a genuine
23:59 authentic way. There's power in that, there's so much we can
24:04 do, but we ought not wait until the final signals, Karen. We
24:08 need to start doing it now. Churches and companies and
24:11 groups and individuals need to figure how can I show my love
24:15 to one another now. How can I practice what God wants me to
24:18 do and how can we really see love as a distinguishing
24:23 characteristic for Christians; they'll know us by our love.
24:26 And when we start practicing that now I believe that's going
24:29 to be one of the sanctifying elements that will help us to
24:32 get ready for the soon coming of Jesus Christ, by loving one
24:36 another. Because we know that this love aspect as it ties in
24:40 with diversity doesn't end with this life. It actually continues
24:44 in the life to come. If you ever look at the Spirit of Prophecy
24:48 Ellen White talks about the spirit of unity and peace and
24:52 love in heaven, in eternity. How we all come together with grand
24:56 enterprises, noble tasks. We'll be working together for eternity
25:00 What exciting things God has for us.
25:02 That is incredible and something to look forward to so we have to
25:06 kind of get it together down here, right?
25:08 We start down here, that's right.
25:10 Well, I've really enjoyed the topic that you've presented
25:14 today on diversity and encouraging us to reach out to
25:18 different types of people. No matter where you may be watching
25:23 this program anywhere in the world, conflict is going to
25:28 exist because we are different and we do need the Holy Spirit
25:32 to come and touch our hearts and to give us the capacity to
25:35 expand and to do some of these great programs that you have
25:39 implemented at Loma Linda and at Oakwood and churches and
25:42 community groups. At this time would you offer prayer for us
25:46 please. I'd love to.
25:47 Our Father, we thank you for this opportunity to talk about
25:49 this important topic. We ask for the power of the Holy Spirit
25:53 to bless us personally with our families, with our companies,
25:57 with our churches. We thank you for this program that has given
26:01 us the opportunity to talk about it. We ask that what we talked
26:04 today and what we have found in your word might inspire us to
26:08 reach out and love one another in the true way that you love us
26:12 and that you modeled your love for us. Bless us as we prepare
26:16 for your soon coming. Bless us to spend eternity with you for
26:19 we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.
26:23 Amen. Thank you so much for coming to our program Dr. Baker.
26:27 I certainly enjoyed the topic of diversity and for those of
26:30 you who would like to get a copy of this book, the book is
26:36 Make Us One: Celebrating Spiritual Unity in the Midst of
26:40 Cultural Diversity, Removing Barriers and Building Bridges.
26:45 Delbert W. Baker, PhD, editor. You can get information about
26:50 this book by going to the 3ABN website
26:58 And you can find out how to get hold of the book, how to get in
27:01 contact with Dr. Baker. He is, again, located at Oakwood
27:05 College. You can call his office if you would like for him to
27:08 come and to speak to your community or group about the
27:12 subject of diversity. Or you can call the 800 number,
27:16 1-800-752-3226 and ask for materials. If you have not met
27:20 the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and would like to invite
27:24 him into your heart at this time, we encourage that you call
27:27 the 800 number. We have materials that you need and that
27:29 we would like to place in your hand. The beauty is that God
27:34 made us all and it is his desire to make us one. And that is what
27:39 we want to have happen today in this program. The purpose of
27:43 presenting diversity is not to emphasize differences but to
27:47 show that God is the creator of all of us and that it is he who
27:51 can make us one. Thank you again for coming to Issues and
27:54 Answers and watching the program and may God bless you
27:57 until next time. Have a great day.


Revised 2015-02-24