Romans 2:6–10, Galatians 6:9

 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good.

—Romans 2:10

My father-in-law, Damon Ray, or Ray as he was affectionately known throughout Hardin County, Kentucky, was a coach and principal at East Hardin High School in Glendale for many years. The school is adjacent to the football stadium, which is named Damon Ray Field. Ray passed away in May 2008, and the funeral service was very appropriately held in the gym at East Hardin High School where he was so beloved.

Although the Glendale schools had been integrated since 1956, in 1963, integration was still making its way through the South. The East Hardin High School boys’ basketball team had one African American player, a young sophomore nicknamed “Snooks” Freeman. On a Friday afternoon, East Hardin traveled to Cookeville, Tennessee, to play the Tennessee Tech college freshman team on Saturday afternoon. The team would then stay overnight, play their game, and stay to watch their former classmate compete in the varsity game. But an unfortunate event occurred Friday evening. When the team checked into the hotel, the hotel proprietor told Ray that Snooks could not stay at the hotel, and that he would have to stay at a motel outside of town by himself. Ray was furious, and that evening, Ray drove his daughter, Becca, and his wife, Charlene, to Livingston, Tennessee, to stay with Becca’s grandmother. And Ray brought Snooks with them.

The next day, Ray told John Oldham, the Tennessee Tech head coach, about the incident. Oldham assured him that the problem would be taken care of right away, and all of the boys were allowed to stay in the hotel on Saturday night. In another demonstration of Christian love, Oldham invited Ray and his team to his Sunday school class on Sunday morning, including Snooks. When Ray passed away, I spoke with Snooks Freeman at the funeral home. I’m confident that one reason Snooks came was because of the Christian love that Ray showed him.

The Bible assures us that we are all alike in God’s eyes. “Neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor master …” All have the same birthright and privilege to come to know Christ. Every person on the face of this earth has had his or her sins paid for by the One who took our places upon the cross. And nobody, regardless of sex, race, or creed, will be denied heaven if that person places his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Prayer: Father God, please teach me to love and respect everyone for who he or she is, regardless of their nationality, heritage, or the color of the person’s skin. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Who do you recall that took a stand against injustice and bigotry? How did that life lesson impact you? Who do you admire today that is a champion for equality?