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General Missions Blog

Justice Came Knocking: Part One

by Kati Simpson on July 22, 2020

From August of 2019 until March of 2020, I served as a missionary with the World Race. I taught English in Nepal, took school photos at an orphanage in Ethiopia, worshipped on the mountains of Tibet, prayed with Muslims in Oman, and so much more that can only be attributed to the provision and grace of God. Then, due to the ongoing threats of COVID-19, I was abruptly evacuated from Azerbaijan.

The email that sent me and my team home was met with confusion and despair. Coming home to America three months earlier than expected flattened my expectations and increased my anxiety – rendering me out of control and humbled into uncharted territory.

When all 550+ missionaries were swiftly sent home, we declared we were simply repositioning an army. We knew God had called us back to America, but we didn’t quite know why. Now, we have a reckoning. We are part of a movement bringing Heaven closer to Earth, right here and now. The fight for equality is a fight for the Lord’s redemptive glory to wash over our nation. It is a fight where we are needed.

You are invited to the table. You have permission to join the conversation about racism as we reject apathy for the righteous faith the Lord has called us to. As much as I want to respond with hurt, anger and sadness, we are called to respond with His love. I have prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His, and I am now realizing the implications of what I have been asking. I have an expectation that God will expand my heart to hold space for everything that bold prayer entails.

The System

If we don’t know the burden, how are we supposed to carry one another (Galatians 6:2)? Let’s start broad and work to understand the trauma within Black history and white supremacy that got us here. This is not a new story, this is exhausting trauma. Let’s sit with the discomfort as we learn that we are neither blind to, nor bound by, our history and the approach of white supremacy.

Racism is a manifestation of the lie that there is a part of humanity that should be treated as LESS THAN. This lie can no longer be ignored, nor tolerated.

Racism is a system into which I was socialized. This is the system we are all part of, actively or passively, intentionally or unintentionally. This is the system that makes decisions at tables that affect the lives of those not at the tables; where white folks have always been many steps ahead to begin with. Opportunity is not equally distributed across race, class and gender; besides, one certainly cannot vote for their right to vote. This is the system built for whiteness, by whiteness; one that needs to be remade for those who have neither the privilege nor protection to do so themselves.

This is a system where whiteness is implied in the absence of its acknowledgement – for example, white history is the norm for history until we have Black History Month. Thus, suggesting that Black (or women, but I digress) historical contributions lie outside the norm.

Our defensiveness or apathy has maintained the racial tensions that are now being disrupted around the country. Our silence is not benign; it protects and maintains the racial hierarchy and our own place within it.

The weight of responsibility rests with those who control the system; yet, systemic oppression is deeply rooted and will not be overcome with the passage of legislation. We need a change in heart. After all, people are the greatest currency of our time.

Living Subversively

Learning that other people’s problems are our problems is entirely radical and oftentimes inconvenient. But, it is the ultimate way to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

The Gospel is a love story of overturning injustice, flipping tables, straightening paths and tipping scales.

We have been taught not to challenge racism nor name white power. Confronting an aspect of the system that benefits white folks at the expense of Black lives is uncomfortable, yet the very denial permits and maintains unequal racial power. Denial ensures that we will not examine nor change our perspectives, beliefs, or cultural lens. As DiAngelo says, “each uninterrupted joke furthers the circulation of racism through the culture, and the ability for the joke to circulate depends on my complicity”. We need to prioritize interrupting racism over protecting white feelings. We need to be more concerned with stopping our racist patterns than working to convince others that we don’t have them. We cannot change what we refuse to see.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The movement starts with us. Let us sit in the throne room, face on the floor, and plead for our brothers and sisters. Lord, reveal our inherent bias, expose our generational sin, replace the lies with Your Truth.

Yes, it will be awkward and uncomfortable, but it will lead us into greater understanding. The Holy Spirit wants to take up residence in our hearts, we need only let Him.

Identity

From the Garden, humans are made in the image of God, equal before God with the right to be treated with dignity and fairness. We are commanded to treat others as the image bearer of God they are, with the God-given dignity they deserve.

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11).

We are first identified by Christ. As DiAngelo puts it, “the external characteristics that we use to define race are unreliable indicators of genetic variation between any two people”. We are, together, members of the body of Christ. We reflect the fullness of God. Unity is in our diversity, not uniformity.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Lord, what do you want to speak to me, our community, and our corporate Body of Christ? Help us not to operate out of our own strength, but the healing and reconciliation that only You can bring.
  2. How can I show people God right now? As the Body, we don’t all have the same passions. We don’t have to all take up the same torch, but we do all have to move in the same direction.
  3. How can we unite together as Believers? How can I bring unity in my community?

Join me in prayer: Lord, thank you that you knew we would be here before the world was ever set into motion. Thank you that we can trust you have orchestrated a reconciliation of the world back to you – that we are forever in your will, your hands and feet on Earth.

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