Reflection by Associate Pastor Billy
Our country (and world) has entered once more into a conflict called racial injustice that has always existed, but from time to time raises its voice to a level that causes notice. I am not afraid of conflict. Let me share why. I believe when we confront conflict in the right way we give God the opportunity for His presence to be at work in precious ways. I’ve been complicit, and the church has been complicit on this issue for too long. God’s calls us to act. What do we do? First, we need to have an awareness of the injustices in our world. Second, we need to seek out relationships and understanding. We need to listen. We need to repent. We need to lament. We need to feel the pain and engage with those who are different than us. We need to love. Third, we need to commit to action.
Recently, I attended an event in Elkton organized by students from area high schools. I drove to Elkton praying for peace and understanding, and for God to open the eyes of my heart. As I drove in and parked I experienced an uneasiness in my soul. Upon entering I was thankful to see many friends, black and white, and could enter with them. I was also thankful I saw my friend who is a police officer and we could catch up. As things began, I listened. Immediately, I didn’t agree with a couple things one of the speakers said. But there were many things I did agree with as I continued to listen.
The students shared their stories of pain, of being treated differently because of the color of their skin. As they spoke, I looked around the edge of this gathering of approximately 1,000 people and saw something I had never experienced before. There was a strong, visible presence of people carrying guns. I wish I had gone to them and talked, trying to gain a better understanding of what they were thinking/feeling/believing in the midst of what was happening.
I’m glad I went to this event. I stayed and talked with my police officer friend again and found myself one of the last to leave (at least one of the last who was unarmed). There remained over 75 police officers and 75 others who were armed, hanging out in the woods. I prayed it would be a peaceful night. Since then I’ve sought to learn more and found Right Now Media to be helpful. I commend to you The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby that chronicles the complicity in the church over the last 400 years in racial inequality. I also commend to you MLK50 which was a conference put on by the Gospel Coalition in 2018 to raise awareness, foster relationships, and promote action in the church. I want to continue to engage my friends of all colors in conversations, pray for unity and justice, learn, read, and pray that I will have a heart of compassion that leads to action. Will you join me?