Brothers at The Front Porch,

Thank you for your godly insight and counsel, and in particular for how you’ve helped me understand what it means biblically to understand myself as a Christian and an African-American.

Just so you guys can get to know me a bit, here’s some of my story: I’m from Fresno, CA, and I’m 22 years old. I’ve been married now for 2.5 years to my Mexican wife. We have two beautiful children — my daughter who is eight years old and my son who just turned two.

If you’re doing the math, it’s not a typo; I had my first child at 14 years of age, while I was a freshman in high school. I grew up without my biological father, but was fortunate to have a step-dad — who is white — but he ended up divorcing my mother while I was in the 2nd grade, leaving my mother with my three little brothers and me. We moved from house to house, shelter to shelter, all the time when we were younger. But by God’s grace, we are all in stable conditions now. I have also reconciled those relationships — those with my biological father and step-father; I have been granted power from above to forgive them from the heart. God has been good!

Furthermore, I grew up in church but was in-and-out of the church. I knew the gospel intellectually, but I didn’t have a heart-knowledge of it. This knowledge came about my senior year in high school. Ever since then, though I have fallen very hard, my heart is still fixed on Christ. I was grounded in a Baptist church where I got a lot of my foundation, but it was indeed a very legalistic church. It was a church that was more focused on externals than the heart. It was always, “do, do, do!” instead of “done, done, done!” Terms like “grace,” “propitiation,” “election,” etc. were all foreign languages to me. But thanks be to God, he gave me a wonderful friend in my life who provoked me to think more deeply and biblically. The end result is that I began to embrace the Calvinistic theology and the Word of God began to open like a beautiful flower. I began to develop convictions and began to see the errors in the black church I was in. Because my conscious would not allow me to submit to certain teachings, I left the church in peace last year.

I landed in a sound church where the pastor was someone that saw the Bible how I did, yet it is also a predominantly white church. I love this church, I love the people, and above all I love the word preached! But I’m still getting used to it. It’s different — not in a bad way; it’ just something I’m not use to.

At times, I did get very discouraged and down because, at least in my area, all the black churches and leaders are not focused on the biblical Gospel. At the church I attended we had a variety of the black churches come together once a month. All the Pastors would have there robes on and march down together as the audience applauded as they sat in the front. I remember things like this all the time. I say all this not to be a downer but to thank God and to thank you and your ministry team.

I just received Pastor Carter’s book, Experiencing the Truth. I plan on devouring the book. Is there a way I can receive more ammo? I hope God uses me to bring about whatever biblical changes he wants to the black church, and really, to everyone in the little area where he has placed me. I write all this to thank and encourage you guys. Know that if you have impacted anyone it has been me, and I plan to take what I learn not only to blacks but to every ethnicity. I will continue to look to you guys for encouragement and resources in the meantime. I thank you for your boldness and graciousness in communicating the truth. I am thankful that I can have someone to look to imitate in some way, though it may not be physical. I will be praying for you all.

In Christ,

Jovanique Harper

The Front Porch
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  • Avatar ryanvinten says:

    What an encouraging read this was. So wonderful to hear about how God’s beautiful grace worked in a brother’s life. Jovanique – thanks for sharing, may God continue to bless you.

  • Avatar Jovanique says:

    Hey Ryan, thank you for the comment. I just want to be a encouragement to the body of Christ and share the grace God has worked in my life. May God bless and enrich you bro!


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