When things seem to be spiraling out of control, what can we do?
Jon Eng and I have teamed together over the past year at Gateway South, and it’s been a joy! Ministry with each other has allowed us to engage God’s heart for reconciliation and justice in the context of our relationship. In response to God’s heart for all people, we’ve gotten together to co-write some next steps to help you serve one another as we stand against racism.
In each campus this past Sunday, we prayed for peace and acknowledged our desire for reconciliation and justice in our land.
(See Justin McCarty at Gateway North Austin on 8/13)
Gateway is committed to stand against racism.
One of our most faithful leaders who is an African American woman confessed how much she needed that moment because the last year has been emotionally tough for her in ways she did not expect.
If you are a white American who wants to be engaged in creating a better future but don’t know what to do, here are 5 ways you can begin to serve people of color (POC)as we move towards unity:
Talking about race can be awkward. Many of us want to serve our friends who are POC, but we may not know how to quite engage. A good place to start is to ask for permission to enter into their stories.
Say: “This past weekend’s racism in Charlottesville was difficult for me to watch. Would it be okay for me to ask how you’re doing?”
Follow the person’s lead as they respond to you. Some may not be ready or may not want to share with you about the pain they are experiencing. That’s okay. It’s important to respect that space.
However your friends may respond to you, express your gratefulness for their presence and being.
Say: “I just wanted to let you know that you’re valued in my life.”
If someone opens up to you, reserve your judgment. Avoid giving advice, and instead, choose to listen and affirm.
Say: “That must be so difficult. I may not completely understand where you’re coming from, but thanks for sharing with me.”
Grow in your awareness:
When living in a predominantly white majority context, it can be easy to forget that what’s culturally normative for you may be abnormal for others. We may not even recognize the more subtle forms of racism or prejudice around us. All of us have blindspots, and it’s important to become aware of them. As you serve your friends, be willing to question your own worldview.
Say: “I want to learn more about your experience. Would you be willing to share more about _____? Can you point me to a couple resources that could help me to better understand?”
Actively resist racism:
When you see racism, bias, prejudice, or injustice unfolding in your community – whether it be in the grocery store, your life group, or at your child’s school – speak up and advocate on behalf of people of color. Your voice carries a different weight than a POC’s, and for our communities to move forward, it is important for you to exercise it.
Ready for More?
1. Part of Gateway? Join our Reconciliation Network:
This Sunday (8/20) at 12:30 pm, we will be gathering at Room S2 of Gateway South to pray and explore next steps. Please consider joining us! As we stand together against racism, we invite you to join us. We recognize that for our community to move forward in unity, we need to engage in the work of truth-telling and reconciliation. Calling out racism and white supremacy as evil is only one step. For us to become the kind of community that truly welcomes and values all, each of us are invited take steps to serve one another. If you cannot make it Sunday, but want to get involved contact Jonathan.Eng@gatewaychurch.com.
2. Are You A Church Leader in Austin?
Join us for the Better Together Racial Reconciliation Conference on 8/26
This Conference is to empower MEN, WOMEN, and YOUTH through the message of Reconciliation. The Gospel reconciles us first to our Lord Jesus Christ, then in our marriage/family, and finally throughout the body of Christ (Church) and into our Communities (neighborhood, work, school, etc.). Our families, churches, and communities have been divided for too long with discord, divorce, discouragement, competition, racism, social economic status differences and more! There is a dying world out there, that needs God’s true love. It is time to equip and empower the people with the message and tools to make lasting and healthy relationships that enable us to truly “love thy neighbor”.
3. Are you a Follower of Jesus Who Wants More Resources on Creating a Diverse Community?
If so, check out these resources:
Creating a Diverse Community (article for leaders)
Coming Sept. 2017 – Not Like Me: Learning to Love, Serve, and Influence Our Divided World – updated 10th anniversary edition!
Photo by: Julia Rendleman/AP