Not long ago I watched the movie, “Selma” for the first time.
I confess I didn’t know many of the details of what happened in 1965. At the time, at the age of 11, I failed to pay much attention to national news, although I knew blacks did not enjoy the same rights as whites, and my heart broke when President Kennedy was shot. I knew he believed deeply that “black lives matter.”
When I watched the movie, I marveled at the courage of those who stood against injustice—especially Martin Luther King Jr. His wife also showed bravery to stand by her husband when it meant death threats and danger for herself and her children.
What I didn’t think about when I imagined the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in my mind was that whites marched with blacks on the bridge. As I watched the movie, my heart rejoiced at the unity I saw. I imagine whites on the bridge saw the blacks as their neighbors and their brothers and sisters. They empathized and were willing to put themselves in danger to help blacks obtain justice and equality.
Other whites failed to see the matter in that way.
The same goes on today.
Many—even in churches—see injustice against blacks ie shooting of innocent black citizens by policemen as “not my problem.” Some even put forth an attitude of “they must have done something wrong” even though videos show the wrong action on their part was “driving while black.”
Today I heard an interview with Mandisa, a black Christian singer, who felt disturbed at the time by what she saw on the news in the midst of a series of deaths of black people by the hands of police officers as well as the killing of police officers by a black man in Texas.
Out of her inner turmoil came the song “Bleed The Same” which calls for unity. If we in the church could be united and could see black people as our brothers and sisters or our neighbors, what a difference it would make.
Some tell me, “I do see blacks as my brothers and sisters.”
My question is, “Then why aren’t there any blacks in your church? Or in your circle of friends?”
One day in a prayer meeting at our church, I prayed against racism in the hearts of people in our mostly white church, where blacks had told me, “I don’t feel welcome at your church.”
A black friend explained it this way, “When I visited a Sunday School class at your church the same day as a white woman did, people in the class said to her, ‘We hope you come back,’ while to me they uttered no such words.”
After I prayed, “God, help us deal with racism in our church,” a woman interjected, “there is no racism in this church.” It was ironic that she said this since it was one of her good friends who called a security guard a number of years ago and urged them to kick out several black youth my daughter had invited to the church all because three black young men in her mind were “a dangerous gang.” Even when I told her they were our guests, she and a racist security guard still insisted, “they don’t belong here.”
That’s not unity. These youth were hungry for the Lord. What would have happened if people in our church united with these young people to help them get to know the Lord and walk with Him instead of kicking them out and telling them not to come back?
I still have contact with these three men. Their hearts continue to hunger for God, even though they have many struggles and have not fully grasped the full truth of salvation. However, the sister of two of these young men who are brothers said, “Because your church welcomed me, my life was changed. I’m a leader in my church, and you inviting me to church there made such a difference.” She knows and loves the Lord and lives a life to serve Him.
Our church did not see her as dangerous and united with her to help her grow in the Lord.
I continue to pray for God to deal with racism in the hearts of members of my church and every church in America. I pray my home church would become fully integrated. I pray we would see blacks, Hispanics, and every other individual in a minority who knows the Lord as brothers and sisters. I pray we will see those who don’t know the Lord as neighbors we can reach out to with love and concern. I pray their struggles would become our struggles, their hurts our hurts.
Not long ago as I prayed for a troubled youth who is wandering far from the Lord, these words came to mind, “Pray she will have eyes wide open.”
That’s what I pray for us in the church—that our eyes would be wide open to racism, injustice, and inequality. Then I pray we would ask God, “what is my part?” and “how can I bring unity?” Yes, we may feel these are dangerous questions, but what a difference we could make.
I want to be part of the solution of the problem of racism and every other problem in the church and in our country.
How about you?
Today I have two songs:
“Glory” by John Legend and Common– theme song from the movie, “Selma”
“Bleed The Same” by Mandisa
The Story Behind the Song “Bleed The Same”