As I sit to write this, another city has been in uproar.
People are angry and distressed.
How many times must this happen? I ask myself. I’m tired. If you have empathy for the community, it’s assumed you’re against police officers. Why can’t I be for both and against police brutality? I’m tired. People speaking from one-dimensional experience obliterated with ignorance. I’m tired. Conspiracy theories, lies, disenfranchisement, Christians using politics as their centering position rather than the Gospel.
I’m tired. We are all broken.
Hope Uplifts.“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5 NIV).
There is a major societal disconnect. As a grandmother I knew would say, “My heart hurts”. My heart breaks for the families, who’ve lost loved ones. My heart breaks for the disunity and hate you see spilled across social media. I never understood that phrase until the last few years, but “My heart hurts”.
Hope provides an anchor for a weary soul. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV).
The last several months have been difficult. I believe each week there’s a new story added to the already tumultuous racial tensions. I don’t know about you but my spirit has been grieved and burdened with the dissent, divisive comments made in ignorance, posts, and silence. My heart breaks for this country and the world. Even today Ethiopian Jews are protesting against disparities in Israel. We are broken. The sins of racism and prejudices are ugly.
I’m tired. We are all broken.
Hope provides joy in situations for you to hold on. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Many have taken to social media to voice their opinions, be passive aggressive, and to incite anger and division. What Hope does that really bring? I believe we are becoming desensitized to the systemic issue connected to the problem. Recently I shared this on Facebook, “The work of racial reconciliation will take more than a #hashtag and more than drive by activism. We need more than crisis engagement”
I’m reminded of a scripture in Jeremiah. The Prophet Jeremiah is giving a prophetic message to the Jews that are exiled in Babylon. I’m sure they were hopeless, distressed, broken, consumed with despair and grief. They were tired, empty and depleted. They felt like all hope was gone. They were broken. He tells them to work for peace in the city in which they were exiled. If the city prospers, so shall you. Are we working for peace in our cities? The scripture leads us to more than pray for peace. We must do both, work for peace. We are tired but we must fight through our own prejudices for justice. We must be willing to listen and work together. Sitting quietly is unacceptable. We must live out the hope we teach.
Hope moves you to take action with boldness.“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12 NIV)
I am tired but there is hope. I’m broken but God is able to mend the broken.
Hope inspires you.
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV).
Group building bridges of racial unity in California
The hope we long for rests in the voices and actions of you and I. I’ve found hope and encouragement in the testimonies of people all across America who have stepped out of their comfort zones and decided to work for Peace. Below are two testimonies received through the Facebook group “Be the Bridge to Racial Unity Groups”. They are shared to encourage you today and bring hope to a situation that seems hopeless. For a moment let’s silence the voices of the media, the politicians, the experts and maybe our very own inner voice. Let’s sit together for a moment and dream of a better future for our children, communities and churches. My friend there is hope. May we pause and listen to the hope that is possible through each of us.
This is my testimony: I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio and am part of a 6-person circle. Our circle is only in it’s second month, but the on-going formal and informal conversations we are having are some of the hardest, most meaningful, messy, yet holy discussions I’ve ever been a part of! Tasha starts with Jesus’ prayer in John 17 as a call to unity and this framework serves to intentionally dive-in to topics surrounding racial divides that the American church has historically shyed away from addressing. Something powerful happens when you sit across from women of a variety of backgrounds, look them in the eyes, and listen to their stories and experiences- they become sisters. Racial unity is as culturally relevant today as ever and it’s time that the people of the cross intentionally address the so called “elephant in the room” that has traditionally left us segregated on Sunday morning. If you are feeling burdened for the cause of racial unity but have no clue where to start, I highly recommend the Bridge to Racial Unity. It’s not a problem with easy, or short-term solutions, but the guide is a great framework to help you intentionally address and discuss topics surrounding race. Through the guide and discussions, God has opened my eyes to some of the painful realities of white privilege that I previously didn’t know even existed. You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s time that Christians lead the way in reconciling- if the church can’t get it right, who will? Here’s the group of brave women that are diving into the guide together.
The next story was posted on Facebook. A family decides to step out of their comfort zones and visit a predominately African-American church. Despite their fears the family was welcomed. Their children enjoyed the experience and met new friends.
Inspired by that IF racial unity discussion group, we took our kids to a Gospel church last week. We. Were. Nervous!! We didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb but we wanted so much for our kids to experience worship and bible-based teaching in a way that was different than they were used to. We wanted them to get a sense that our brothers and sisters in Christ are not just the people at our home church. But man were we nervous in a way I had not anticipated!! But by being brave enough to go and stand out, we were blessed with an abundantly warm welcome with affection from every person we crossed paths with on that church campus. Our two youngest were shy and wanted to sit in service with us but our 11 year old did not care that she would be the only white person in Sunday school and she asked to go. When we went to get her afterward, she and another girl declared they were new best friends and all 3 of my kids asked if we could go back to worship there again someday. It was more than we ever hoped for and a glimpse of heaven for us.
My name is Kimberly Bolden and I am the women’s small group leader and the wife of the Lead Pastor at Tri-Cities Church in East Point, GA. Our women’s group is comprised of about 15 women who attend on a regular basis. As a diverse church, ‘The Bridge to Racial Unity’ is a study that we welcomed and believe has been beneficial to us moving forward together as a Christian Community on the Southside of town. Attached are pictures of some of the ladies in our group.
These are only a handful of stories of reconciliation and bridge-building taking place across the country. They’re small steps with huge impact from brave people. If you find yourself stuck, decide to take one step today.
There is hope, and God is able to mend all that are Broken.
Step 1: Add people who don’t look like you on social media
Step 2: Listen to different types of music.
Step 3: Watch a movie/documentary or read a book
Step 4: Attend a service
Step 5: Look for places you can be intentional in meeting people who don’t look like you.
Step 6: Partner with others to start a Be the Bridge Group (BTB).
“We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel” (Colossians 1:4–5 NIV).
A few articles on the CHURCH and Reconciliation:
Article 3 (Modeling a healthy dialogue on race.)
Cite: June Hunt (Hope for the Heart)