I am a middle-aged, middle class white woman. I was born and mostly raised in the South. I grew up in poverty, living in rural, almost exclusively white, communities. My family, at least the older generations, were deeply racist, though they never seemed to recognize it in themselves.
Over four decades, God has brought me across a great chasm. He has allowed incredible, life-changing relationships with people of various races, ethnicities, nationalities, and backgrounds. My mind and heart have been forever impacted by God’s grace on display through these precious souls.
And now, God has led me to this place, where I have the great privilege of working in a ministry (Conway Ministry Center) that walks alongside people in crisis and families drowning in poverty, many of whom are homeless.
One undeniable fact regarding these beautiful people is this: A disproportionate number of them are black.
I share all of this as a frame of reference for where I’m going with this letter.
My heart continually swells between deep lament and hope.
I lament. I know fully that racism is alive and well. From grade school to current events, there is no denying all that I’ve seen and heard thousands of times over in huge, obnoxious ways and small, hidden ways.
I’ve seen it in schools, workplaces, public spaces, healthcare, churches, and government programs. As my family has loved and lived life with people of color, we have been witnesses to mistreatment by individuals and entire systems. The lives that have been lost with little to no justice for their families is a great and gaping sin against our black and brown human family.
I don’t follow a God that would die for his people and not care about black lives. He also cares about racism. He cares about the oppressed. He cares about justice. He cares about reconciliation.
I have the option of turning off the news and throwing myself into a good book or home project. I could choose to close my eyes and heart. But as a follower of Christ, I choose to see.
I choose to learn our history.
I choose to hear.
I choose to be intentional in relationship.
I choose to feel the crushing, the heartbreak, the anger, and the fear.
As a follower of Christ, I lament.
But as a follower of Christ, I also hope. I hope because I have experienced first hand the transforming power of Christ. I have been forever changed. My family has been changed. My children are different than the generations before them.
I hope because I see this new generation speaking out, standing up, and refusing to ignore injustice. I have hope because I see churches in Central Arkansas and around the South finding their voices, repenting, and committing to be a part of the solution. I still believe that God’s plan for his church, his body, is to usher in the ministry of reconciliation and healing.
Oh, that God would stir a movement in his people! May he start with us! Yes, I hope!
So as I stand in this place of deep lament and hope for the future, I stand in solidarity with my beloved brothers and sisters who are black.
I commit to learn. I commit to listen. I commit to continue to seek relationship and growth. I commit to use whatever voice, privilege, and influence I have to continue the work. When I find myself in circles where people of color are not present or privy, I commit to remember and to speak.
And I commit to PRAY. Not in place or instead of action, but always as my first and highest response to a desperate situation. I commit to this over time and for the long haul. This goes for my family and for the organization I lead.
Black and brown people, know that we love you. Your lives matter.
And not only do they matter, they are precious beyond words and worth fighting for.
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