Tuesday, July 26, 2016

All Lives Matter

My Papa, Theodule Joseph LeMaire, was a descendant of Pierre Thibaudeau and his wife Jeanne Terriau who left France to settle in Acadia (Nova Scotia). Their lives as settlers in a new land were extremely hard. But life got harder. The British Conquest of Acadia in 1710 set up deep barriers between the French settlers and the British, culminating in the Great Expulsion in 1755 of the French. Ten families in my ancestry line were put in concentration camps. Later, they were deported to many different locations. Most of my family ended up in the swamps of Louisiana. They later became known as Cajuns.

My Papa was born in 1898. Only one time do I remember his sharing how hard life was for him, and his immediate and extended family. French mothers fought hard to keep their family heritage and language at the forefront of their teachings. Papa’s mother insisted her family only speak French. If she heard them speak English, the children were punished severely. At that time, assimilation into the English culture in Louisiana was forbidden by French families. The children received the brunt of this division. If they spoke French in public, they were often slighted, made fun of, or physically harmed by the English settlers.

My great-grandmother’s maiden name was Hebert (pronounced A Bear). The picture below gives a clear indication of what the Cajun/French children had to deal with.

This painting entitled “He Burt Yes. A Bear No.” by George Rodrigue illustrates what Cajun children had to deal with for years. It shows a boy in school where the black board says ‘No French Spoken in School’. In the painting, the little boy is being chastised for pronouncing his name, Hebert, using the French dialect. The English speaking teacher wanted him to pronounce his last name phonetically (He Burt), robbing the boy of his nationality and culture.

My grandfather spoke broken English all his life but he persevered, working long hours in the rice fields of Louisiana. He eventually broke tradition, learned English, and moved out of Louisiana in order to better himself. By the time I was born, my grandfather ran a furniture store and wore a suit and top hat to work every day He worked past his cultural disabilities to provide a good life for my grandmother, mother, and aunt. My mother said she never heard her father belabor his plight in life. He only showed his family his pride in succeeding.

This is not an unusual story. A lot of people flocked to America and went through the same kind of discrimination, violence, and persecution that my French forefathers endured. But that was then and this is now. These ancestors of different cultures, languages, and beliefs paved the way for our freedom. I’m sorry bad things happened to those refugees. But we live in the twenty-first century, and free to be all we want to be. I don’t care what circumstances you are facing, our forefathers showed us that perseverance and a strong work ethic can bridge gaps to ensure a good life.

More importantly, we need to focus on what is real to all of us today.

Jesus died for each of us. He ended the debate on which lives matter. Everyone matters. The prostitute. The unbeliever. The lost. The demon-possessed. The doubter. The sick. The widows. Jesus encountered them all with love and offered words for an eternal life. When people approached Jesus, he engaged them. Jesus also pursued the ordinary and unlikely and called them to follow Him.

Isn’t this what we should be focusing on in 2016? I don’t expect an apology from the British or from the English colonists about the deplorable treatment and persecution my family endured. What I want to remember is their survival, determination, and sheer willpower to persevere. Without that, I might not be here today writing these words. I am alive and free because of the perseverance of my ancestors, and I’m so proud.

Let’s end the debate on whose life matters. It truly is not up for debate.

We are God’s children: red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Do you believe this?

You should. Jesus loves you, and He can’t lie. Jesus also insists we love one another.

We are in this messy, dangerous world together. We need all races and cultures in this great land to put their energy on creating a better life for generations to come by focusing on what we have in common. Remember Jesus understands persecution and hatred. He was killed by people who should have opened their arms to Him. I’m sure His heart breaks over every death and killing that has happened in our great country.

I implore you to read Dr. Tony Evans book, “America: Turning A Nation To God”. In it he states, “America is in serious trouble. From sea to shining sea we are witnessing the devolution of a nation. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit, it is clear that things are unraveling at warp speed. The United States is quickly becoming the divided states as signs of disunity and conflicts abound. From family breakdowns to the immigration crisis to the abiding racial divide to Congress’ inability to function; it is clear we are a fraying nation. Add to this the continuing moral decay that is engulfing us, whether it is the redefinition of marriage and the family, abortions on demands, a media that continues to dumb down decency, or an educational system that increasingly seeks to impart information without ethics in the name of ‘freedom’. We are as a nation sliding south fast. The American dream is quickly becoming the American nightmare as more and more citizens become disillusioned with the direction things seem to be going.”

I am glad my Papa is dead and cannot see what has happened to America. I think his heart would break just like Jesus’.

We have to secure our land and return it to God in our worship, praise, and how we conduct our lives. There is nothing more immediate or urgent than our unity as a people.

What can you do today to help discord in your area? This is not a rhetorical question. It’s an imperative one that needs to happen now.

One thing I know I can do to help unify is to talk more about Jesus. Even unbelievers know what He went through; and yet, through it all, He maintained integrity and love in all He did. Share the hard core reality of Jesus. Tell others what Jesus has done for you (Luke 8:39).

As Lysa Terkeurst said, “Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.”

Charles Spurgeon ended a sermon with this call, “Now, get at it all of you! You that are doing nothing for Jesus, be ashamed of yourselves and ask Him to work in you so that you may begin to work for Him.”

God has given us the power of choice. Let’s accept our responsibility to do something about it.

As you plan how you can help change things, keep your eyes upward. Pray continually for God’s intervention and mercy on our nation and her people.

God bless you. God bless America.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing family history! I was unaware of what "cajun" was all about! You should be proud of your heritage! We often overlook what had to happen in the past to get where we are now. And you are so right - your papa would be crushed to see America today.
    Loved your saying w Jesus ending the debate on lives that matter! Why are so many so blind not to see Him and His Love?
    Sigh! My life only matters because of Jesus!