In my first post about Leroy Barber’s book: Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White—Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry, I shared Barber’s insights into the historical foundations for our current approach to missions and how our past has shaped our present reality. In part two in this series, I shared the evidence backing Barber’s claims that our current missions efforts are producing racial inequity. In part three, I shared the advice Barber gives to white leaders who desire to change our current system toward one of greater racial equity.
In this final post in this series we will be looking at ways of overcoming the barriers to racial reconciliation and unity. Below are a few excerpts that I found helpful as we reimagine Christian mission and its ultimate objective of reconciliation and unity.
“Missions exist because of wrongs. Missions is a correction for what is wrong, what is not just.
Missions is living the way things should be. Missions is a way of life devoted to making justice, equality, and grace prevail in broken lives, including our own. It is making shalom reality.
Jesus prayed in the garden before his death that we would be one people. We have a lot of work to do to become one heart and one mind. The Church is one expression of God here on earth.
To rest content with superficial social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes is unchristian.
Missions can help us get rid of the separation. By serving in new ways, with new understanding, and new attitudes, designations of race can fall away.
To serve means to recognize the unjust, ungodly systems that have privileged men over women, those with white skin over those of color, those who have material wealth over those who do not, and humans over all of God’s universal creation.”
For the past several years, I have been a part of a life giving cross-cultural prayer group with people of different races, faith traditions and socio-economic means. This small but powerful group of devoted disciples of Jesus gives me so much hope. In this group we are able to be true sisters and brothers in Christ as we share our struggles and our triumphs. I know that the church universal has a long way to go to achieve reconciliation and unity but this little circle of the faithful is proof that it can be done.
I am thankful for Barber’s book because far too few Christians are willing to admit that racism has infected all our systems including the church. Until we make this invisible enemy visible, nothing will change and the church will continue to be a perpetrator of racial injustice instead of the counter-cultural healer that she is called to be.
“In obedience to God, racial reconciliation is a commitment to building cross-cultural relationships of forgiveness, repentance, love, and hope that result in ‘walking in beauty’ with our fellow man and God.”