My first memory of racial tension happened when I was a small child, sometime in the mid-1960s. I was very young, so I only remember aspects of the incident. It was summertime, and I was sitting in a parked car with some relatives. The windows were rolled down so we could survive the smothering heat. I remember feeling somewhat bored until the adult who was sitting with us suddenly screamed for us to roll up the windows. A child knows when adults are scared, and I was, consequently, terrified. I remember rolling up the window as fast as I could, accompanied by horrifying descriptions of the potential violence about to befall us. What was the perceived threat that sent so much terror into that curbside car? In broad daylight, on a city sidewalk in Childersburg, Ala., a black man was about to walk by us.
I often thought about that day as I read the wonderful new fiction book by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Missing Isaac (Revell, $14.99). The setting is in the same time period and exact location as my childhood introduction to the complexity and fear embedded within racial distinctions. Missing Isaac is about a young boy whose friendship with a black man changed the trajectory of his life forever, in ways he could never have foreseen. It’s also about class distinctions, which can be as divisive and cruel as racism, even among those who share the same skin color. Missing Isaac is a beautiful story that reminds us that, even in a world filled with evil and injustice, righteousness and love cannot be constrained. It will break free among those who are truly God’s people.
I love the writing in Missing Isaac. I love the characters, the dialogue, the storyline, and well, pretty much everything about it. But what I love most is that it redeemed that day in Childersburg, Ala. Despite our insane outbreak of curbside terror, love was still happening all around us. We were simply too afraid to see it. One day we will all catch up to the reality that ethnic, racial, and class divisions simply do not exist within the kingdom of Jesus. In the meantime, we need stories like Missing Isaac to remind us that perfect love, both now and forevermore, casts out all fear.
–Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster