Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here

Dancing on Division


Sometime around 1966 my Baptist grandmother tried to set me straight about racial issues. I was just a clueless kid, oblivious to the impact the civil rights movement was having on the world around me. Old mind-sets were being uprooted in Georgia and Alabama, where all my relatives lived. My grandmother was probably worried that I might grow up to be one of those long-haired hippies who marched with their black friends to protest segregation.

I'll never forget her stern lecture. "Lee," she drawled, "the black people have their church, and the white people have their church. And that's the way the Lord wants it."

Somehow my 8-year-old brain refused to absorb her message. Even at that age I knew something wasn't right about segregation. So by the time I became a teenager, I rebelled against Southern white attitudes and embraced African-American culture.

In fact, I wanted to be black. I used AfroSheen on my curly hair, watched Soul Train on Saturday afternoons and listened to 1970s rhythm and blues on the radio—especially the Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder and the Four Tops. I even made my father take me to a Gladys Knight and the Pips concert in downtown Atlanta. I think we were the only white people in an audience of 10,000 at the Omni arena.

I was searching for togetherness in a divided world. Yet during that time I never ventured into a black church. On Sunday mornings I was still in my regular pew in an all-white congregation where we sang traditional hymns and ignored the turmoil that had erupted in Memphis, Montgomery and Birmingham.

But everything changed when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit a few years later. Suddenly I found myself worshiping with black Pentecostals—and their exuberance stirred something deep inside me. As I spent more time with them I discovered a missing dimension of my faith. Up until then I had experienced only the white version.

Over the next several years I came to appreciate the infectious passion of the black church—where people stand and shout during sermons, clap off beat instead of on beat, dance during worship and carry their zeal into the streets to fight injustice and poverty. I learned that there is a difference between going to church (which I had done my whole life, in air-conditioned comfort and always for one hour at a time) and "having church"—the African-American way of describing a four-hour-long marathon revival service that can leave you hoarse and drenched in sweat.

I'll never forget the first time I decided to join some saints at the altar at a Church of God in Christ congregation in Orlando. People were lingering near the stage after the sermon, waiting for the Holy Ghost to fall on somebody. The choir, swaying to the rhythms of a bass guitar and a Hammond-B organ, belted out a gospel anthem that seemed to go on forever.

I couldn't contain the joy that kept building in that electric atmosphere. I started moving my feet. Before too long I was tearing up the rug while the drummer provided his ecstatic accompaniment.

I didn't know that black Pentecostals have a special theology and terminology for this experience. They call it "dancing in the Spirit" or sometimes just "getting the Holy Ghost." It must have been a strange sight to see the only white man in the place cavorting wildly to the beat while six or seven elderly "church mothers" wearing hats and white gloves circled around me, clapping and praying, "Help him, Jesus!" and "Bless him, Lord!"

When I collapsed in a cushioned pew a few minutes later, I thought to myself: If only my Baptist grandmother could see me now.

You know it's the work of God when a white guy is plucked from the suburbs and finds a new level of anointing among his black brethren. That's what the power of Pentecost will do. The Holy Spirit likes to mix things up. He's not into barriers, so why should we tolerate spiritual segregation?

Let's have some church, y'all. The beat is on. It's time to dance on our divisions.


J. Lee Grady is the editor of Charisma. Check out his weekly online columns at fireinmybones.com.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit