Iron Porch Interview with Khandi Wagner: Christian Women and Race Relations in America

The following is the transcription of an Iron Porch Interview with Khandi Wagner concerning race relations and what Christian women should know.  Khandi is a Christian wife and mother, as well as an Active Duty Airman who is active in her church, her community, and her family.

Khandi, please describe yourself, as you would imagine God describing you.

I believe that at times He would describe me as lost.  I’m a fairly new Christian and often feel like I have no idea how to be a Christian.  He would be proud of me for finding my way back to Him. He would call me a sinful being who is repentant.  I do feel bad about my sin and I try to do the right thing.  I think He would also describe me as hungry for knowledge about Him and His Word.

 Tell us about your testimony.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and I hated it because I never understood the Pastor. The church was corrupt and the Pastor had very sinful behaviors, which caused several members to leave.  The next church I attended I loved, but I wasn’t ready to commit to being a Christian because I identified as a lesbian.

During my college years, I stopped going to church because I was going to school and working full-time.  I thought I had no time for church.  Later I was sexually assaulted in college and partially blamed God.  I couldn’t understand how a God who is so loving could allow this hurt.  No one told me that God was just and loving.

I then got married to my High School sweetheart, who happened to be a girl.  I joined the military and still didn’t go to church.  I wasn’t happy and felt my soul was at unrest.  I was in constant turmoil, which only got worse when my wife decided to transition into a male.  After his medical transition, he brought a woman to the house and cheated on me.  My heart was broken with a hurt I’d never experienced before.  I did not think I would survive the hurt.

At that point, I found God on my back porch as I begged Him to take the hurt and pain.  At that moment, the weight of all my life’s heaviness was taken away.  I knew I needed to find a church and after weeks of church shopping, I was given an invitation to a church called Crosspoint.

It was a strange transition to see casual clothes and a coffee shop, but the music was great and the first message touched my heart.  That first sermon was titled, “Loneliness is a Liar.”  Essentially the pastor stated that the enemy wants you to think that you are the only one with your hurt, sadness, anger, situation, hatred in your heart, but you have to surround yourself with love and those who are good Christians (they will share your weight). Jesus said, lay your problems at my feet. After service, the pastor introduced himself and knew me by name the following week.

A change had happened in my heart.  I no longer was interested in women.  I had a fire inside of me.  It was a hunger to know God and His Word.  I knew then that Jesus was the only love I’d needed my entire life.

In light of the recent conversations being had Nationally about race relations and social injustice, what would you want Christian women, and specifically white Christian women, to know about the discussion?

I would want to remind her that we are all God’s children and that some of His children are hurting right now. I would want her to know that I wish she would read the Bible and really understand it rather than using it to justify current events.  I wish she would understand there is love, sadness, defeat, and immense power right now in America.

White Christian women have an enormous platform that they may not even realize that they have, just based on the color of their skin.  They could spread so much love while spreading the Word.  Because love is the Word.  Because the Bible is love. Because God is love. With that platform, white Christians need to take that love and run with it.

White people have a power that they may not even realize that they possess. For instance, your presence alone can deescalate a situation.  Your presence alone can keep an unnecessary killing form happening.  Your presence alone can get the truth out.  There is an obligation to use your whiteness to help people.  Perhaps it means you could intervene with the police.

What do you find the most challenging when dealing with Christians and racial injustice? 

One of the things I find most difficult is when Christians are selective about what parts of the Bible they use to justify their thoughts or actions. There are examples in the Bible of people fighting for freedom, but there’s an expectation about Christians, especially African American Christians should be passive in fighting for their freedom.

For example, a lot of Christians reference Jesus being non-violent as a way to justify a stance against protesting, looting, or rioting that is currently happening in US cities.  They fail to use examples like Joshua marching around Jericho for 7 days before taking the city.  To some Joshua is an example of protesting for the promised land.  It was violent. It was not passive.

I find it difficult that Christians say “don’t judge” when they fail to realize that God did not say “don’t judge,” but rather He said, “judge righteously.” This means that he’s given us permission to judge those who know the love of Christ.  Therefore, you can’t stand in judgment of the wicked who haven’t accepted the gift of salvation.

What do you find the most rewarding when dealing with Christians and racial injustice?

One of the things I find most rewarding is that Christians seem to be the group of people most willing to listen and amend their preconceived notions about race.  When I give examples of black suppression (need another word?), Christian people seem receptive and are willing to open eyes for Biblical examples. Christians are open to a fresh perspective and it’s rewarding to get them to see something in a new light.

Another thing I find rewarding about recent conversation opportunities is that it’s creating an atmosphere to establish relationships.  These relationships are likely with those who you wouldn’t have previously had conversations or friendships with.

In your opinion, how can Christians help with race relations?

Khandi Graphics

  • Get involved. The time for being passive is over.  White allies are needed in order for there to be equality for all in America.
  • Give a black person a hug.  You have no idea how much this would mean to some people.  We are tired and we need encouragement.
  • Listen to the discussion.  Don’t just hear the words, listen to the struggle, and see it through someone else’s eyes and experiences.
  • Pray for us and with us.  We are in desperate need of uplifting prayers.
  • Educate yourself and those around you.  Do some research on black history, watch documentaries, read books, listen to experts or podcasts.   In today’s climate, social media is GIVING you tons of information…read it!

 Do you feel there is a difference between a person being racist and having a racial bias?

There is a difference, but it’s a fine line.  Racial bias is something everyone has and it could be subconscious.  For instance, you may begin picking up behaviors from others like if a mom grabs purse every time an African American man walks by, then the child begins to identify with that bias even if they don’t understand that they are behaving a certain way.

Racism cross over the line when someone has a closed mind and aren’t open to new experiences in regards to an entire grouping of people.  It’s closed-minded and it festers until it directly begins to impact behavior and thoughts.  This type of behavior is also taught and can be as subtle as a tone or demeanor or as overt as racist comments or violence.

To counteract that racism, people might simply have a conversation, which could lead to an epiphany. Much like when Christians realize that they need to accept Jesus as their Savior.

The Iron Porch is grateful for the time and energy Khandi spent sharing her testimony and her thoughts on race relations.  If you have any further questions for Khandi, please do not hesitate to contact us on the porch!

~Emily & Erin

Khandi Photo

Khandi Wagner and her husband.

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