I have an additional important concern in the aftermath of Black History Month and posts I made this year beginning with the cautionary anecdote of twentysomething, Devontay Rhodes, and followed by the one in two parts just concluded conveying God’s response from His Word to black American invented forms of counterfeit Christianity with all others.1 Counterfeit anything has negative consequences for those deceived and hurt by not having the real thing. Disconnecting the faith from God’s Word and obedient practice as counterfeit Christianity does has hurt especially black American men I share an affinity with among all those this Ministry targets in its cause to restore men!2
As the Lord had me to make clear in the two-part post, Willful Ignorance Destroys, manmade Christianity is not the genuine article. Whatever is not within the doctrinal confines biblically of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” including all of its inherent freedoms and those not specified, but easily discernible as granted by God in conformity with what has been written in His whole Word is outside of it and counterfeit (Romans 14-15:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, 8, 10-11:1; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5; Colossians 2:16-23; Jude 1-4, NKJV). And while no one of us that professes to be followers of Christ is perfect, we aspire to it in God’s plan (Philippians 3:1-16)!3
Godly aspiration to perfection is not what many black men from slavery have encountered with whites or those that share their ethnicity because of intervening counterfeit manmade Christianity as religion. With whites, conveniently selected, self-serving practices of the Law and New Testament teachings maintained their supremacy while also permitting abusive conduct which many continue to this day. The same religious hypocrisy and corruption among blacks has turned many of our males away from God and the biblical faith they rarely saw displayed except by the family matriarchs. Today, even the faith and example of the black family matriarch is fading into historic memory.4
For those that demand specific examples to authenticate what I am writing, use your chosen search engine to find any number of white professed Christian duplicities and abuses from slavery and after to the present involving special slave Bibles, marital infidelity with and rape of black women, brutal beatings, lynchings and wanton murder of black men. The hypocritical sins and abuses of guilty black clergy and other leaders are searchable too. In recent times, the now, deceased Bishop Eddie Long, is slickly shown on video preaching against homosexuality from the Bible while allegedly having gay trysts by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. without comment in his black church documentary.5
In my labor among black males, I have met so many that want nothing to do with Christianity whatever its organized religious form. Their numerical absence in the churches reaches back to slavery and forward to this hour when their presence as thirty percent of a congregation is considered miraculous! Wired in their brains with logic and reason as most males, using these many black males easily deduce and see right through the inconsistencies of practice in the churches and the faith the Bible presents. It does not help when preachers in large numbers are found to be fleecing the flock financially, practicing sexual immorality, being abusive or abusing drugs and alcohol etc.
Add to the foregoing the ongoing hurtful acts of systemic racism by professed Christian white men that is allowed by their counterfeit forms of Christianity, the spiritual, mental and emotional injuries suffered and the even unconscious humiliation of usurpation by women within the churches of black religious invention they may have grown up in and it is not difficult to understand the typical unsaved black male’s disinterest in Christianity, agnosticism, embrace of religions such as Islam and hostile atheism. I have engaged a few that though they claimed to reject religion, are into New Age self-worship as their own gods. Still others are comfortable with counterfeit Christianity and care nothing about what it is or does since they are Christian impostors living as they please anyway.
Despite the challenges involved, reaching unsaved black males with the biblical Gospel toward the end of divine restoration is an absolute urgent imperative for their own eternal soul’s sake, the families they create and our wider community under lawless siege from their lost spiritual condition and anger.6 As a black male, I am a living witness of what God can do when He is allowed to through His cause of salvation and restoration in the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ! What is needed are more individual sold out holy vessels and faithful churches they make up to stand with Him (and us) in His cause; preaching, teaching and practicing sound doctrine from “the whole counsel of God” as it is written to include His order of mankind from creation electing men as leaders (Acts 20:27, NKJV).
1 Read the January 31, 2021 post, A New Year Cautionary Anecdote, under the category, The Cause and the two-part Willful Ignorance Destroys that begins on February 21,
2021 under the category, Black History.
2 Learn more about the cause of Strong Man Ministries to restore men, their families and communities on our Web Site.
3 This is the heart of every Christian man and woman that respectively aspires to be like Christ as strong men and great women of God I write about in my book, The Strong
Man Of God: Back To Basics. The book is published by Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. and is available in print or digital formats at major internet booksellers.
You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store.
4 See the two-part post beginning June 21, 2015, Mama’s Boys, under the category, Black History.
5 Dr. Gates wrote, produced and hosted the four hour, two-part documentary, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song that aired this past February for Black
History Month on PBS. A brief clip of Bishop Long is shown as the consummate (and implied across the board hypocritical) Christian black biblically conservative outcry
against the God condemned practice of homosexuality in the Bible.
6 Read the February 19, 2017 post, Who Is Weeping For My People?, under the category, The Cause. Also, on The From Slavery To Victory Education Project Web Site,
learn more about how the spiritually bound up condition of black males is negatively impacting the family and community on its Help For Men Page.
Still at the head of the New Year and on the eve of another February Black History Month, I am posting what the Lord led me to write for all, but especially the young, black American male inmates that read the print version of The Strong Man Of God Monthly Newsletter distributed by Strong Man Ministries to mostly Oregon and Washington prisons.1 These young men fill prisons across America. In the cause of Strong Man Ministries to restore men, their families and communities, I have gone forth as its Director into the prisons, streets, schools, football fields and basketball courts preaching the Gospel, teaching God’s Word and witnessing Christ to the end of saving even a willing few.2
Devontay was among the most promising of the twentysomethings I had encountered in our prison ministry. He was street smart, tough, but real and humble about wanting to turn his life around as I write in this anecdote. I have only done a minor edit and added footnotes to it. If it would be helpful to steer other young people (to include any of his four children) away from what he had endured in his life and suffered from his admitted poor choices which is my aim (hence, “cautionary” in the title) then, Devontay would be glad for me to put this post out. May it be so, Lord!
(There will not be a post next week, February 7th as I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with my wife--praise the Lord! The Lord willing, my next post will be on the following Sunday evening, February 14th.)
Originally Published January 2021
The news put me in shock as the sudden death of those we know always does. I had not heard about the tragic early morning accident on the local television news shows I typically watch as I learned later was reported on. I found out about the accident that ended the mortal life of 27 year-old Devontay Rhodes back on October 22, 2020 from another one of my spiritual sons in the Christian faith who is on lockdown at Oregon’s Deer Creek Correctional Institution (DRCI), Martin Lockett, in a letter he wrote to me just before Thanksgiving.3 He thought I knew.
Martin had met Devontay when they were both at Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI). Devontay was transferred there after first being at the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) in the fall of 2015 where I encountered him as a participant in our Ministry’s Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study.4 Even now, my heart breaks thinking about how so very young he was and too many of our black American incarcerated males are. Unlike many of his peers though, bright, energetic and determined Devontay was genuinely eager for change in his life.
When an upcoming periodic baptismal service was announced during the study, Devontay requested that I baptize him. As a seasoned pastor, I proclaimed the Gospel to him to make sure the faith in Christ he professed rested on biblical grounds. However, I declined to baptize him until I had the opportunity to instruct him more in what it was about. He was disappointed, but clearly undeterred because he showed up at the service requesting again to be baptized. I relented. After giving him instruction, I baptized him.
As it turned out, Devontay was transferred soon after and I could not do any further instruction except through correspondence. I also wrote and asked Martin to help Devontay in the faith and he did up until his release. After his release, Devontay called me with some life issues I gave biblical counsel on how to handle. Then, began what became only our occasional phone contacts and more recently, e-mail exchanges until his death. In fact, we last exchanged e-mails this past August 31st in his renewed desire to live for Christ. I sent him a final follow-up e-mail on September 22nd.
My August e-mail to Devontay was like most of our previous phone conversations and e-mails with me providing biblical counsel on a life issue that went unheeded (Proverbs 19:21). In it, I addressed his ambition to be a bartender as a Christian and gave one reason it was incompatible with our faith being that serving alcohol to some led to intoxicated driving and tragic accidents. He died thirty days later ironically after a man charged with DUII crashed into his car on Oregon’s I-84. Devontay was eager for change in relationship with Christ, but was just not ready to do all of what He requires to obtain it! What about you? You only have so much time (Luke 9:23-26, 13:1-9)!
1 Subscription to the digital E-version of the newsletter is available.
2 Learn more about our evangelism and ministry among youth by visiting the Strong Man Minute Page on the Strong Man Ministries Web Site, The Strong Man Of God.Org.
3 Learn more about our ongoing national Books To USA Prisons Project on the Give Page of the Strong Man Of God Web Site.
4 This is the same Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study available for purchase in the Strong Man Store and most major internet booksellers.
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