The question the left asserts is this – “Is Donald Trump a racist?”
Mr. Trumps Senior Advisor, Michael Cohen, is Jewish. His daughter has converted to Judaism. Clearly, Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic.
Attending our meeting was an African American lady I recognized as a former “Apprentice” personality. She was sort of like a villain in certain episodes. Her name is Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. Omarosa is a Democrat who worked for the Clinton White House. She is actually a very nice person. She told me, “I’m living proof Mr. Trump isn’t a misogynistic women hater or prejudiced against the black community. He’s helped me build three companies.” Her point is well taken.
Just LOOK at the picture I included with this post. This is a man who is comfortable with the folks he is with. This was indeed a meeting that was as Trump described “creative, open and loving.” It was tense at times but God prevailed.
Trump was aware that many attending the meeting with him in NY came at a personal price for those reaching out to him. He said: “one thing I can tell you, I am a very loyal person. When someone is committed to me, I am very loyal in return. I don’t forget.” As he looked around the board room at those attending he said, “I won’t forget you who came out to meet me.”
MY WORD TO MR.TRUMP
My moment came as it often does…when its unexpected. My mind was drifting off (actually I was trying to figure out where the Men’s room was) when I heard Pastor Scott call on me to speak.
l said, “this fire storm of controversy over this meeting should tell us this is a significant event. That’s why there is spiritual warfare. There is something historic and unique that can begin right here. Mr. Trump you are a business man. It’s understood that traditionally the Republican party writes off the African American vote. In the last election 93% of this vote was given to President Obama. But we are counting on you being a different kind of Republican. What is needed is for you to commit your unique skills and energy to addressing the economic problem within cities like Fergusson and Baltimore and as you have said…there are as many as 20 other cities like these all on edge.”
Trumps head was nodding agreement.
“They need economic incentives and they need a commitment to a an education process that builds community and competence and character and these courageous Pastors here are on the front line of this battle. There needs to be a new partnership. People of faith are a vital part of the glue that holds these communities together. They need to be involved.”
Trump slapped his hands firmly down on the conference room table and with a sweeping glance around the room gave an emphatic “Yes! I can absolutely commit to that. So much of this problem is rooted in unemployment and economics. The unemployment rate for young black males ages 18 to 34 is 58%. We’ve got to create tax incentives for business in the inner city and cut the red tape of delays from initiatives. I read somewhere about the amount of time it took for a Pharmacy….I think it was a Walgreens, to get authorization to open up a store in one of these cities. It was a process that took years. That has to change. But there is a serious problem in education that has to be addressed.” Trump was making the link between unemployment and the drop out rate.
This was the Trump I was looking for. The restless, results oriented business man approaching the problem. He is not unmoved by the troubles in these communities. He has ideas.
Trump then shared something almost reflectively. “I had thought that Barak Obama would have been more of a unifier between races. It surprised me that he has not done this but things seemed to have gone in the opposite direction. I know I am not seen this way during the campaign period but I can tell you as a business man that I am a unifier in my organizations. I built my companies by getting everyone together. I bring people together. That’s what we need here. That’s what leadership does.”
The one bit of data that I regret not knowing and saying came to me afterward in a phone conversation with Bishop Harry Jackson. The number one statistical factor that impacts unemployment, poverty and crime is NOT economics and education – it is FAMILY! According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2009 was 37.1 percent. The rate for married couples with children was ONLY 6.8 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 82 percent! It’s the absence of married fathers in the home that has the greatest impact on the breakdown we are addressing.
As some wanted to go back and rehash the issue of sensitivity Pastor Darrell was likewise wanting to seize the moment for a forward direction. It is to the credit of all who met that they respected his right to facilitate the conversation. People were glancing at watches. The media was downstairs waiting. Time was running out.
Suddenly I heard the words, “Dr. Lance tell Mr. Trump about Isaiah 45 and what the Lord told you.” This request came out of a conversation Darrell and I shared earlier.
CYRUS MY ANOINTED
I shared with the room how I ran across a curious meme with a picture of Donald Trump in the Oval office. The caption said: “Donald Trump- 45th President of the United States.” I wondered, “Is the next President going to be the 45th President?” I checked it out and sure enough the next President will indeed be the 45th President.
Then the thought came forcefully to me to read Isaiah 45. As I retold the story in NY I fumbled around in my briefcase and pulled out my Bible. (Frankly, I wrestled with whether or not I should bring my Bible into Trumps boardroom but decided to bring it anyway. Glad I did.) Finding Isaiah 45 I proceeded to read aloud about “Cyrus my anointed” who would go forth and “make the crooked places straight.” Cyrus was not a Jewish King. He was an outsider. But he was Gods choice.
I said, “George Washington had on more than one occasion a horse shot out from under him and discovered bullet holes shot through his overcoat- but was miraculously not hit. I told Mr. Trump that his survival in the midst of so many controversies in this election process has been unprecedented. I suggested that this was not due to his ingenuity alone. He has been bullet proof thus far. I said “this isn’t because of your ingenuity. Gods hand has been on you. I believe its Gods anointing that has kept you thus far.”
Surprisingly he took all this in with great interest and an open heart. In the two times I’ve been in this board room I’ve seen brief moments when people shared with him their faith inspired perspective or experiences. In each instance Mr. Trump enjoys the moment. He has an expression at moments like this that reminds me of Reagan in his religious simplicity. He believes in God but does not have a very complex theological worldview. He senses when something is authentic.
I wished afterward that I had remembered how it was during Cyrus administration that Nehemiah rebuilt the great wall of protection for his people. Which is interesting if you consider how much of Trumps message has involved the wall he wants to build for the protection of the United States.
I did not want to talk too much so I stopped.
Pastor Darrell then asked me to explain to the Pastors the difference between “Common Grace” and “Saving Grace.” This is an important concept because so many of Gods people tend to evaluate public servants based on an evangelical litmus test. I pointed out that each believer experiences “saving grace” as God brings us to a moment of encountering Christ and being “born again.” On the other hand, the term “common grace” came from Reformers who noted that Gods grace is a restraining force against evil even where the church is not fully present. Common Grace is particularly applied to those who are civic leaders. It is a grace that comes for the restraining of lawlessness and anarchy. If sin had its way it would reduce the civilization to ruins.
In retrospect we see that Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill were so singularly placed and sustained by God on order to deal with a great crisis in their nations. Neither was a card carrying Evangelical- yet both were respectful to Christianity and Biblical values.
I pointed out that I felt the next President will face a similar crucible of history and will need this grace.
When talking to Pastors I try to point out that the issue should never be “who is the most evangelical” but rather, “who has God anointed or chosen for this task?” The question should be, “do they have the right principles and value system”? “Are they competent?” “Do they possess the requisite resilience and resolve to handle the pressure of this assignment?”
The person who steps into the Oval Office next may be inheriting an economic meltdown and race riots in multiple cities all exasperated by numerous Islamic terror assaults combined with wars in foreign lands. This person will have been being formed their whole life for this assignment. Thats what common grace does. Our prayers pull them to the surface. Which is why I point to a Reagan, Thatcher, Churchill or Lincoln as an answer to prayer for public office where they would not have been the answer to prayer for the office of Pastor. Christians want to elect a person with saving grace when they ought to expand their search to look for those under the mantle of “saving grace” and/or “common grace.”
Jimmy Carter had evangelical saving Grace. It is debatable if this gave him an advantage in his role as President. It’s likely that Neville Chamberlin had saving grace. Lincolns competition for the White House was the pious evangelical Salmon P. Chase. But Salmon was not the equal of Lincoln, the sometimes irreverent story teller from Springfield Illinois. When I finished speaking several men confirmed that the had been drawn to Isaiah 45 lately as well. But our time was up. We had to go downstairs and face the media.
Unlike my first visit to meet Mr. Trump I did not feel a need to take a picture, but I did take a picture of Trump as he worked his way out of the meeting and downstairs to the impatient frenzy of media still waiting. I took the picture for this post as Trump was approaching my direction. You can see how the energy of the meeting was in the end both positive, loving and energizing.
THE WORDS SPOKEN HAD THE DESIRED EFFECT
As often happens to me in an experience like this I wonder afterward if what I said made sense. I did not have to wait long, as Mr. Trump went to exit he took my hand and shaking it said, “I want you to know those words you spoke meant a lot to me. They really did. Thank you.” It made me happy to know that a portion of the Bible was made personal to him. If nothing else, it was a moment to further solidify his simple but earnest respect for the Bible and its potential relevance to him prophetically. I could ask for nothing more.
Of course all this puts me in an awkward place with the people who don’t like Donald Trump or who do not desire to see him succeed in his quest. I have not had a witness one way or another about whether he is supposed to be President. But I do know that Donald Trump has been a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness. I believe he is a Cyrus and “common grace” is upon him. He is not an enemy to the interests of the church.
For all I know, my assignment with him is finished.
A NEW MANHATTAN PROJECT
One thing I would like to see however is a new “Manhattan Project.” This is the term given to the top secret meeting of the nations brightest scientists on the creation of an atom bomb. The urgency to get the bomb was intensified by concern that German scientists were already at work on the project.
We need a Holy Spirit inspired meeting of thought leaders in the African American community. If Mr. Trump continues succeeding in his unconventional quest for the Presidency – and wins the Oval Office, it would be unfortunate for the African American community to have missed the moment to help shape Mr. Trumps policies and awareness.
This may be the moment for leaders to meet again at Trump Towers, perhaps with each other first and with Mr. Trump afterward.This New Community Manhattan Project needs to create an agenda and platform that every African American can affirm and agree on. We need a new tone in America and it may be that the African American Church leads the way in forging a plan that can tangibly Make America Great Again.