There are a few things in America that are dangerous to be while Black. One of them is driving while Black. Another is being in an unfamiliar neighborhood while Black. We are all familiar with reaching for our pockets while Black. But I would like to spend a moment engaging you on the perceived danger, necessity, and collective benefit of responding while Black and Christian.
I need not go into the climate of the time. I don’t know if race riots will follow the killing of two Black men by police within 48 hours of each other, totaling more than 550 this year. I don’t know if suicide rates will quadruple among Black teens. I don’t know if more Blacks will receive cancer and diabetes diagnoses as they swallow sugar to treat themselves to something sweet in the middle of their pain. I don’t know how long before we take action among ourselves in regards to our men killing each other. And I don’t know if the nation will care. I can’t say that all members of the Church will – being that the Church has been a partner in White Supremacy since 1492. What I can say is that regardless of who cares, God cares. And Christ was not executed by the government and resurrected for us to lives that are cushioned from the pain of being connected to one another. Life is meant to be felt – and He showed us that. Life’s troubles are meant to be overcome – and He showed us that.
When Christians who also happen to be Black or any other groups of color speak out on what is important to them, it should not anger or draw suspicion from counter-groups. (But it does.) Responding to social issues and speaking from a heart for ministry is risky while Black. But it is a risk worth taking. We risk being accused of causing division and stifling the journey to unity in the Body of Christ. We risk being ignored by ministry partners and perhaps our pastors. Dr. Martin Luther King took the highest risk, which led to his murder on a hotel balcony.
If we go through our lives silenced for the comfort of others or desensitized for the comfort of ourselves, this is where we have lost and the life of Christ has no place in us. Here are some encouraging words to young people of color, and particularly young Blacks in the Americas, who are true followers of Christ. The following points are made from a submitted heart.
- Seek wise counsel and prayer covering. Don’t abandon the wisdom of elders in exchange for the inspiration from friends. Humble yourself to hear what is necessary and true. People who want the best for you will give you what you need to hear or be reminded of.
- Read! Read the Bible, read essays and sermons that bring the Bible to life, read the headlines, read the story. Read material that will expand your outlook and refresh you. Don’t OD with the news and social media. I understand that we all have different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). However, if you’re looking to see or hear something that will help you traverse the obstacles of ministry and social change, you may not find as much footage as you hope. The Black Panther Party was demolished and the Black Lives Matter protests (not the actual work) are surface-level re-beginnings. Reading (even in the form of listening) is fundamental. We need historical contexts for what we are dealing with. This will help us breathe through the current chaos. There is still hope! What is happening today was dreamed and put into place over the last 500 years. But Jesus got up and He’s above all of those plans, evil assignments, plots, and principalities.
- Speak the truth and know the facts. If you don’t know the whole truth, speak your truth (your experience – don’t generalize). Beware of the backlash. We may be accused of being anti-White, anti-Christ or anti-church because we have spoken against the stagnancy or corruption of individuals who operate and attend the church institutions. But we must hold in our minds that Christ was not White or a White Supremacist. Again, He did not die so that one group of people could get ahead and then get tight-necked when the other groups talk about faith, race and socio-economics. Ask God what He thinks about what you’re saying and thinking. He’ll tell you and bring people to you so you’re back in alignment with Him. Also, always ask Him to lead on you what to say. Everything good isn’t good to talk about.
- Be prepared to hear silence from previous supporters. Keep moving.
- Praise God and worship Him while you strategize and organize. He will connect you to people who share your vision for ministry and social change. You’ll go further together.
- Listen to learn – not just to respond. Let the opposition strengthen you – not overcome you.
- Don’t try to overthrow the system. Strategize within it and offer yourself as a resource to those who have the same vision but use different methods. Also learn from them what may be useful to you.
- Be patient. Again, we’re not dealing with a system of babies. We are dealing with a system of giants. Like David, we have to devote our hearts and energy to God as we fight privately before He calls us to fight publicly. We draw strength from remembering God rescued us previously so we that can aim those stones at the heads of the Goliaths.
- Remain humble. You are not God’s gift to ministry; the Holy Spirit is.
- Distinguish between what you can do and only what God can do. Revisit this list constantly. Our acknowledgement of Who He IS and who we are not is what sets us apart from those who seek salvation in a human context.
- Pray in the Spirit while you do the work. We are not battling flesh and blood but real life evil and foul spirits. This nation is obsessed with demons and gives reverence to their power film after film. Imagine how different our lives would be if we spent as much time with God. We have to know where our power comes from. Those very demons we fight against are the ones who bow before Christ and ask why He is tormenting them.
- Do whatever you do for the glory of God. Ministry is not simply church-based as a pastor, preacher, prophet, teacher, or evangelist. It is multifaceted. Not all are called to vocational ministry but we are ALL called to minister (Luke 4:18).
Times are tough. But YOU are connected to the King! Keep your head up and your heart pure.