Church should be a safe place.
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015 nine people were gunned down in cold blood while attending a Bible study and prayer meeting.
Women and men from the ages of twenty to eighty-seven.
Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, a librarian, a pastor.
Nine people of color.
A racially motivated hate crime.
I don't live in South Carolina. What can I do?
I can do plenty in my sphere of influence and so can you.
As my good friend Nina (an African American woman) says, "We can't legislate hate out of someone's heart."
So what can we do?
We start at home. We parent to the heart of our kids.
We raise them, train them, educate them, and instruct them on how to love others as they love themselves; to love God and love people.
We can be part of the solution. We can do something about this. We can build the bridge between cultures, races, and socioeconomic groups.
We can raise up the next generation differently.
As Ben Carson said on Thursday, he hopes America can "rise above hatred and join hands."
While Nina and I talked, we came up with some principles and some approaches moms and dads can use in their own homes to end the hatred and ignorance prejudice produces.
- To understand all people are created in God's image. As God's image bearers we all have worth, value, and purpose.
- To believe we are family, brothers and sisters. We are unified in Christ.
- To know we are created uniquely. Differences in skin color should be celebrated not feared.
- To experience empathy by personalizing situations. "The eight-seven-year-old gunned down, could have been my parent, grand or great-grand parent."
"We are not given the benefit of the doubt, We have to first prove ourselves--if allowed to."
I have no idea what that feels like. Nina lives this.
How do we get passed this layer of ignorance?
It isn't only about head knowledge, it is about a heart change. We need more than principles. We need love in action.
- We move outside of our comfort zone and introduce our children to people of other cultures and socioeconomic groups. Perhaps go downtown to a shelter and participate in feeding the homeless.
- We develop relationships with people different from ourselves.
- We ask them about their story, their experiences.
- We do life together. Hang-out, socialize, laugh and cry together.
Our lenses are refocused when we begin to reach out, get to know, hang with, and love each other.
What can we do? We can make a great impact when we put these things into practice in our homes.
We can do something about hatred. We need to do something about this. We can start by talking with and showing our children how to love all people... even people who think, live, or look differently than we do. Let's not only participate in a one time program, event, or mission trip (to Africa or China or India) but live a life style of friendship.
Break my heart over the things that break yours.
"Love your neighbor as yourself."- Jesus
Note: Due to the importance of this post, I am sending it out today, Friday, rather than waiting until Monday.
Nina, thank you for your honesty and wisdom. Thanks for taking the time to give me a peek into your world. Mostly thanks for your love and friendship.
with faith, hope, and love,