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The 700 Club

Reaching All People In a Divided Community

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Author of more than 26 books, his latest: One in Christ (Regnery Faith, 2018)

Founding Pastor, Christ Church, a 9,000 member, multi-racial congregation with over 70 nationalities

Diversity Consultant, National Basketball Association, hosting seminars nationally and internationally on diversity, leadership, marriage and prayer

BS, Mechanical Engineering, Fairleigh Dickenson University

MA, Theology, Alliance Theological Seminary

MA, Civil Engineering, Stevens Institute Tech

MST (Masters in Social Innovation), University of Cambridge (Candidate)

PhD, Organizational Leadership, Regent University

Has completed post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania

Wife: Marlinda

Two adult children

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When Pastor David Ireland was only ten-years-old they moved into a mostly white neighborhood. Sadly, his house was firebombed by five white boys who were never charged. Surprisingly, David’s parents sat him and his siblings down and said, “Don’t hate white people because of what these boys did.” Yet, the hate didn’t stop there. The Ireland family had to have around-the-clock police surveillance because of the death threats from white people in their community. David and his family got the message that they were not welcome in their new community and a seed of distrust and bitterness towards whites was planted in David’s young heart. When David was 20 years old at college, a miracle happened. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but he was instantly healed from the pain of victimization. Amazingly, God is using David as a national leader who is building bridges of reconciliation between the races. His calling came over 30 years ago, while on a visit to the grocery store for his pregnant wife Marlinda.  David explains, “For some odd reason, I noticed the diversity of people shopping. There were African Americans, whites, Latinos, and Asians moving about with their grocery carts. At that moment I heard, for one of the first times in my life, the audible voice of God. It was much like the experience of Saul when God called to him in 1 Samuel 3. It was so real as if someone was standing near me shouting my name. The Lord said to me, ‘David, why can’t it be like that in My house?’ I stood there frozen for a moment. Then, I started to cry.”

Today, he pastors a thriving church of 9,000 racially diverse people. David has written One in Christ which aims to do three things: First, challenge you to create racially diverse churches. Second, to provide tools to help you master diversity. Third, to equip you with the biblical framework to operate cross-culturally.

David shares, “Diversity doesn’t start with a statement. Diversity starts with relationships that are personal in our life that reflects that. You earn the right to speak during peacetime, not during the conflict.”

Convincing people who have endured the sting of racism to become cross-cultural can be very challenging. “Pain is unpredictable. It makes you do things you could never anticipate. When the pain stems from victimization, especially the kind that can accurately be labeled as race related, it is extremely difficult to get that wounded person to become cross-cultural. That person wears pain as a medal, a badge of courage, almost proudly displaying the reason for living a mono-cultural lifestyle.” David has experienced this personally when preaching on the issue and went to God for help in breaking down these barriers. Then, he came across the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. “The act of foot-washing is still a potent spiritual exercise that can produce a clean heart. Regardless of whether the person is the victimizer or victim of a prejudicial act, foot washing can be a therapeutic practice if the Holy Spirit is involved,” he shares. He used this in his own church with two men from opposite ends of the spectrum—one who grew up practicing white supremacy and one who was the victim of prejudice. God’s anointing fell on the congregation as one of the men repented and asked for forgiveness and the other accepted and did the same for holding onto bitterness and allowing his past interactions to influence future relationships where prejudice did not exist.

He challenges everyone to take stock and ask themselves hard questions in order to realize if they are trying to build cross-cultural relationships.  With questions like: What was the racial composition of your wedding? If you were looking over the walls of heaven on your funeral, what would the racial composition of the congregation be, assuming your current set of friends were guests? David realizes that most people flock to what they are comfortable with but the “Bible calls for Christians to be a cross-cultural people. The Great Commission is not optional,” he explains. Therefore, we must be intentional in building bridges by showing awareness and intentionality. David mentions authenticity and acceptance as the two main building blocks in bringing people together. He explains, “Authenticity speaks of realness, sincerity, and genuineness. There is no phony, hypocritical, or pretentious behavior when you’re authentic with people.” Also, David shares, “Acceptance of someone in worship across racial and cultural lines is a big deal. Acceptance is seen as friendliness. You view the person of another race as your social peer, without a paternalistic mindset or seeing him or her as a mission project.”

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
David Ireland PhD
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