Some borrowed thoughts on Ferguson one year later- how does race awareness look in your context?

So, I live in a mono-cultural part of the UK, not because of any ethnic segregation but because of distance and work availability. Or at least, it used to be monoculture, and monochrome (I do remember meeting, quite literally, the first black African who lived in the village, and the first Thai family who moved into the next village…). Now, 15yrs on, the culture is predominantly white british, but with a lot of diversity at the fringe- there are families from all over Europe, Africa and Asia who’ve moved here with work (schools and the hospital plus the beach lifestyle/tourism mostly); but very much in the minority.

The question I have is whether race is an issue here- is someone’s colour and ethnic background a marker or just an identifying feature?  Does it cause someone offence to describe them by their background/hair style/skin colour/employment? I know folks who’d answer both ways to that question…

But the question of race isn’t just colour- its status: refugee, migrant worker, incomer (that’s me, by the way), ex-colonial and so on. Here the question is as much about the camps in Calais, the welcome we give EU nationals working here for a summer, how we treat the families of those who’ve been recruited from overseas to run our healthcare…

Anyway, with all that in mind, I read the post below on Gospelrelevance and thought I’d share it:

One Year Later: 7 Ways To Respond To The Ferguson Aftermath

This past week marks one year since the death of Mike Brown. How should you respond to Ferguson aftermath?

Photo Credit: RAA Network
Photo Credit: RAA Network

I grew up in St. Louis, in a placed called “North County,” about 15 minutes away from Ferguson. I lived in North County most of my adult life until moving away for college. Having spent most of my life in NoCo, as they call it, these are familiar grounds. And I know about the hardships of this area: my uncle was innocently murdered when I was in 4th Grade by a stranger over some chump change.

I’m not saying I’m the most qualified to write this post. But I’m certainly not ignorant. I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m on the inside crying out.

So what should you do?

Last year I wrote a response post right after Michael Brown’s death. My aim was to challenge Christians to respond in a proper, godly way. But now that it’s been over one year, I think we should revisit the question: How should Christians respond to Ferguson?

Here’s at least 6 ways:

1) Continue to pray. 

As soon as you mention prayer, some Christians reply, “I know, I know. But what else can I do.” If this is your attitude, you don’t understand the importance (or power) of prayer. Sure, activity is crucial. You can’t just sit around and do nothing. But to think lowly of prayer is to think lightly of the Savior — the one who is ready to grant requests according to his will for those who ask, seek, and knock. Pray for humility, for reconciliation, for wisdom, for love, for help. Prayer is the first step.

2) Perform a self-examination (again). 

It’s easy to criticize the media, but this is of no value to you if you don’t examine your own heart. Do you struggle with racism? Do you racial-profile others? Do you show favoritism to your race? Others might not know, but God does. Confession and repentance is the fist step for healing.

3) Start a racial dialogue.

I think a “Win” in the past year has been the increased emphasis of CNN and Fox News and other media outlets on having more conversations about race, social justice, and the like. Sure, the info is sometimes incorrect and biased. But at least a discussion is happening, and the emphasis being made more prominent. The media — and Social Media — are talking.

What about you?

You probably won’t be on CNN this week. But you can have a dialogue with your neighbor.

One week after the shooting, I went to a gym in North County. Eager to learn, I pursued a dialogue with an African-American about the situation. I was hesitant and timid and didn’t know if he would reply in an adverse way. But he didn’t. I asked a ton of questions about his upbringing and negative experiences. I wanted to know what it was like to walk in his shoes. And I learned a lot.

Chaz and I

That one conversation taught me more about race and injustice than all the articles I read combined.

The good news is that you can do the same.

Can you have someone of a different race over for dinner this month? I promise you won’t regret it.

4) Build multi-ethnic churches.

I’ve been in the church since 7th grade, visiting dozens and dozens of churches in my lifetime. The number of times I’ve been the only minority in the room is staggering. This is a problem. Pastors in St. Louis — and all around the world — should be committed to building multi-ethnic churches.

How?

There have been books, blogs, conferences, and movements dedicated to this point. All of which can be helpful. But something John MacArthur one said stuck with me that I think can help.

During a Q&A session, a pastor asked MacArthur for advice because his church was struggling with evangelism, seeing very few people converted. “The first thing I would do to help is hire someone with the gift of evangelism on my staff,” replied MacArthur. He explained how this can ignite a fire within the church staff, and the church itself.

This is won’t always be available. But if he or she fits the biblical qualifications, I can see how hiring a minority on staff can help promote the cause of the pursuit of multi-ethnic churches.

5) Start gospel-centered racial justice movements. 

Many movement promoting racial justice have sprung since Mike Brown’s death, with Black Lives Matter rising to prominence. This is good. It’s a healthy sign that people are being shaken out of apathy, and are moving towards activity. But here’s the deal: apart from a gospel-centered moment, the impact of various movements will be limited. What people need is not just behavior modification, but heart transformation. And that power is only available through the gospel.

6) Preach the gospel. 

Racism exists because of sin, and Jesus is the solution. Even John Piper admitted to growing up racist, and I have had my battles, being picked on from multiple ethnicities. The solution? Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News preached and taught through the power of the Holy Spirit is what will change our racist tendencies, and provoke a love for one another. Not gonna lie: a part from Jesus changing my heart, I would be a racist, prideful jerk. Jesus is — and will always be — the solution.

7) Continue to press forward and look to eternity. 

Call me pessimistic, but I’m not sure we’ll ever see a remedy this side of things. Even without violent or prejudicial actions, racism exists because of sin, because of you and I. It’s easy to point the finger. But we should be looking in the mirror. And this sin is not going away, not until Jesus returns.

And he is. His perfect life, death, and resurrection has made a way for God’s people to live forever with him. One day, in a way that I don’t understand, all this wrong will be made right.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

All the tears shed from injustice and racism will one day be wiped forever. Until then, press on.

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