A letter from Pastor Artez - How to love and encourage our black brothers and sisters.
Many in our nation are protesting the recent unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. In the face of overt racism, those of us in the majority culture are often paralyzed by guilt and fear. How should we respond to these violent acts of racism?
In this video below, Pastor George shares a letter (also printed in this email) from fellow 2PC Pastor Artez Henderson to majority culture believers on how they can love and encourage minority brothers and sisters.
Sisters and Brothers,
With the recent viral racial injustices, several white brothers/sisters have asked “How might I engage my black friend who might be hurting?” I’m thankful for this question but there’s no perfect response. In love, I hope to offer some honest perspective for my white sisters/brothers. However, honest perspective shared in love, can sometimes sting. It’s important for you to know that most of the black community is currently experiencing a wide range of emotions and thoughts. For those of you who are looking to enter into this grief with them, please understand that only reading the latest articles on race on your social media timeline, processing these events only with people who look/think like you, or being crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing is not what your black friends need from you right now. As God’s family members we should always be growing in our ability to lament. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15), “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)
Consider these thoughts from your black brother, who has been very disturbed and grieved by these acts of injustice:
If applicable, confess quickly to the Lord any insecurities, indifference, fear, guilt, or any ungodly prejudgments you’re carrying regarding these recent events.
Call, FaceTime, Zoom, or connect in person (there’s power in hearing the voice and seeing the face—use texting as the last resort, if possible) with a black friend sooner than later. Maybe simply ask: “I was thinking about you and wanted to know how you were doing concerning these recent events?” Brace yourself for a wide range of responses. This IS a time to humbly assume the heart of a learner and lovingly listen (James 1:19). This is not a time to project your feelings, become defensive, attempt to rescue them from their hurt, or assume how they should or shouldn’t feel. Less is more.
While an open and honest dialogue is helpful with your black friends, it’s certainly not the end goal. Cultivating friendships through listening is vital for correcting uninformed perspectives regarding injustice that affects your friend and others who look like them. Also keep in mind that it is impossible to grow in understanding what the true needs are if you’re not engaged in authentic, give-and-take relationships with black people.
White brothers and sisters, be careful not to engage only because it's trendy right now, you’re gripped by guilt, or to protect your image. These motives don’t have lasting impact, they don't enable you to love people well—and most importantly, these motives don’t exalt God. However, be compelled by the radical steadfast love God has for you, that enables you to love your neighbor (no matter ethnicity) in a manner for their good and God’s glory. This journey will require longevity, sacrifice, patience, and boldness. Many blessings come with pursuing authentic cross-racial friendships, even after the dust settles. Please don’t wait for another unjust killing of a black person to “get in the game.” As Christians, we long for that Day, when there will be no need for these conversations and the presence of evil will be forever eradicated. Jesus is coming back, but until then let’s press forward! May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7)
In Love, Artez Henderson