The Bible unequivocally condemns racism in every form. Racial prejudice is a sin resulting from the Fall. Christ died to redeem and free us from our sins, including the sin of racism.
In my capacity as Superintendent of the New York Metro District and Senior Pastor of New Life Tabernacle, I feel it is important for me to open a dialogue about the current unrest in our nation. Over the past few days, we have seen the hearts of men on display, when we witnessed the incident which caused the tragic death of George Floyd. It was heart wrenching and desperately painful to watch again, as another person of color lost his life because of the color of his skin.
There is no doubt that the civil servants responsible for this sinful act are void of the Word of God and grace. What we saw on display showed no sign of the oath that was taken to serve and protect the people.
And so, there is outrage! And rightly so because the foundations of our democracy are being threatened. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness seem like a fleeting thought.
Therefore, we must speak the truth, we must acknowledge the problem, if we mean to resolve it, and we must be wise and persistent in these endeavors. This is the truth: sometimes minorities in this country are marginalized, disenfranchised, and have a greater chance of losing their lives because of the color of their skin. Whether by unjustified killing, restricted access to quality education, or inadequate healthcare. This current pandemic reflects the disparity that exists within our country.
As children of God, we are mandated to be the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5: 13-14, KJV). “But if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” It is good for nothing, useless. If our lights are obscured and dim, then we cannot provide light for our own path, and much less for others.
Therefore, as ambassadors for Christ, we ought to be the ones to bring His peace, His grace, and His solutions to any crisis in our land. Without this, we can easily be swept away by our anger and be blinded by our unbearable frustrations – the result of which is unfruitful acts of destruction and nonproductivity. But the church must be a place of solutions and progress, seeing everyone as a potential and valuable soul for Christ, even amidst evil and destruction. Thereby, we would have developed the capacity to forgive, love, teach, reach, and guide. In other words, be the light that would guide some poor struggling seaman to safe harbor, regardless of the color of his skin.
So, let your voice be heard, speak out about the atrocities of today because there is no place for an apathetic response when you are facing a fierce and hungry fortress such as hate. Instead, respond with fervent united prayer, love, wisdom, and courage. Allow the spirit of the Lord to lead you. And whatever you do, ensure that it is done with a purpose, with the right spirit and to bring the change we would love to see. We want to see a transformed American society, where the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can truly be realized and experienced by all.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with this note. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV) states, “And now abideth faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Let the love of Jesus Christ shine through you as you stand together for truth, righteousness, and peace. Let us pray for the officials to whom the authority is given to enforce the rules of our justice system; that they will carry out their duties without prejudice and utilize the correct application of the law. With the help of Almighty God and the fire of the Holy Ghost, we also want to prevent any incubation of racism in the church and eradicate any form of discrimination that may be present, through dialogue, acknowledgement, love, forgiveness, and education. It is one thing to speak of equality, but it is another thing to demonstrate it. My actions must not contradict my speech but rather, validate it.
Subsequently, as pastor or representative of a district/organization, when the opportunity is presented to you to demonstrate inclusion and acceptance of various ethnicities, seize the moment. This would further the cause of equality. This act of inclusion along with other intentional efforts, such as sensitivity to the plight of other culture groups, will eradicate racism over time. As agents of change, this we must endeavor to accomplish in the name of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Micheal A. Mitchell is the District Superintendent, New York Metro of the United Pentecostal Church International and Senior Pastor of New Life Tabernacle UPC, located in Brooklyn, NY.