"Is Jesus White?"

January 24, 2018  •  1 Comment

"Is Jesus white?" That was the question that hit me the hardest. I had been sitting in the shade to avoid the hot African sun and was engaged with a young man in a conversation on issues of faith when he threw out this question. A couple of days later, on Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with a young Muslim man and, to my surprise, I was once again asked, "Is Jesus white?"

I was quick to tell both of these men that Jesus was most definitely not a white man. I explained that he came from the Middle-East and would have looked more like the Lebanese people that come to the city of Bo than a pale European like myself. Roman Catholic Church: Tikonko I added that God doesn't have a skin color. God incarnate in Christ had a skin color based on the region of the world into which he came, but all people, of all skin colors, are created in the image of God and have equal value and dignity in the eyes of God.

Where did the idea of a white Jesus come from? 

The local Catholic church was locked so I took this photo from through the grates at the back of the church. The sanctuary is sparse by western standards but on the left is a statue of the Madonna and child and on the right is a print of the Madonna and child. Here in the heart of a rural community in Sierra Leone sits a western image of a white Jesus. Roman Catholic Church

The first Christian missionaries to Sierra Leone date back to the early 1600's. You'd think that by 2018 they'd have figured out a way to make it clear that Jesus wasn't a white European. Apparently not. There's still a lot of work to do if we ever hope to accurately represent Christ in the world today.


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