News • April 11, 2023

Professors write book on ‘Healing Conversations on Race’

Professors write book on ‘Healing Conversations on Race’

Riverside, Calif. (April 11, 2023) – Four professors at California Baptist University joined together to write a book about having conversation about race to encourage readers to engage in Christ-centered, race-focused conversations.

Professors write book on ‘Healing Conversations on Race’The book is “Healing Conversations on Race: Four Key Practices from Scripture and Psychology.” The authors are Dr. Veola Vazquez, licensed psychologist and diversity coordinator for the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program; Dr. Joshua Knabb, associate dean of psychology; Dr. Charles Lee-Johnson, associate dean of social work; and Dr. Krystal Hays, program director for the Doctor of Social Work.

We spoke with Vazquez on how this book impacts the CBU community and beyond.

Please provide a summary of the book.
“Healing Conversations on Race” is a unique approach to building unity among Christians of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The model and its practices are grounded in helping Christians grow in Christlikeness and apply it to cross racial conversations and relationships. Rather than simply translating the most popular secular ideas of the day, we started with the Bible as a foundation, drawing from the grand narrative of Scripture. We then utilized research-supported methods from within the psychology literature to guide people in having intentional, unifying and ultimately, healing conversations on race. We offer four key practices for these conversations using the HEAL acronym. These practices include humility (H), empathy (E), acceptance (A) of emotions and Christlike love (L). We believe that as Christians engage in these practices during cross-racial conversations, healing can take place one relationship at a time.  

Who is the audience for this book?  

This book is for all Christians who are motivated to grow deeper in relationships with others from racially/ethnically different backgrounds. However, we believe that anyone interested in healing cross racial relationships can benefit from reading “Healing Conversations on Race.” Students at CBU who read this book can immediately begin to apply the practices we describe by demonstrating humility, empathy, acceptance of emotions and Christlike love in each of their cross racial relationships.

What do you hope readers will take away? 

We hope that readers will experience two key takeaways: 

  • Learn and use our structured and easy-to-follow model for engaging in Christ-centered, race-focused conversations, using Scripture and psychological theory as a guide.
  • Deepen their relationship with Christ and people of other races as they apply the Christian practices and psychological skills described in the book.

What does it look like for an ordinary person to have a healing conversation on race? 

In our view, for the ordinary person, a healing conversation on race starts with two things: 1) a commitment to increasing unity in cross-racial relationships and 2) a belief that racial disunity, apathy toward race-related struggles and racism are all a sin. God hates sin, and therefore, God hates racism. If these two foundational elements are present, any person can begin the journey of having healing conversations on race by using the four key practices of the HEAL model: humility, empathy, acceptance of your own and others’ emotions, and demonstrating Christlike love.

Who needs to have these conversations?

We believe that everyone should seek to be involved in healing conversations on race. However, Christians have a higher calling to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — Galatians 5:22-23) in all relationships, including cross-racial relationships. Therefore, we believe that Christians should actively and intentionally seek to have healing cross-racial conversations, cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in one relationship at a time. 

Who came up with the idea to write the book?  

Beginning in the summer of 2020, four professors from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences collaborated to develop the HEAL model and practices. As we observed the ongoing racial disunity within the Christian community and the church, we hoped that as helping professionals, scholars and committed Christians, we would have something to contribute toward a solution. We met regularly to discuss the race related struggles within the Christian community and consistently returned to the importance of a biblical worldview and Christlikeness in approaching these issues. “Healing Conversations on Race” is the culmination of our ongoing, sometimes difficult, but fruitful conversations.

What did the authors learn while writing this book? 

We learned that cross-racial conversations, although difficult, are worth the effort. Drawing closer to our racially and ethnically different brothers and sisters in Christ can heal old wounds and is an important aspect of our spiritual formation as Christ followers.

To learn more about the book, visit

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504