The situation in Ferguson, Missouri has consumed my attention for more than a week now, and I must confess I am weary. Emotional fatigue weighs on me, and I’ve even been physically affected by loss of sleep and the resulting sluggishness. In my role with the Reformed African American Network (RAAN), the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI), and as a Pastoral and Church Planting Apprentice at a multi-ethnic church I address topics of race and culture daily. While I am encouraged by the progress I’ve seen, the death of Mike Brown and the ensuing disruptions make me moan from my soul, “How long, O Lord?”
But today, for the first time since these events have unfolded I have felt a degree of hope. Pass the Mic, the official podcast of the RAANetwork, recorded a special, live broadcast on the topic of Mike Brown, Ferguson, and the Christian response. Finally, I was part of taking action, even if the action is as simple as having a conversation.
“Just more talk. Get up. Do something!”, some will say. I agree completely. Yet I do not underestimate the power of communication. In our age of social media and a constant news cycle we have a lot of talking but very little communication. Getting on the line with Tyler Burns and Michelle Higgins, two young African American Christians in the Reformed tradition was healing for me. Getting around others who understand the importance of the situation and could offer intelligent, biblical reflections helped me process the situation better. A conversation may only be a first step, but it is a step.
I encourage everyone to take the step of having meaningful conversations about Ferguson with other Christians. Gather your church small group, gather your classmates, gather your family and have a conversation. The goal isn’t to resolve the matter–it is far too complex for simplistic solutions. But many will find a greater measure of peace having voiced their frustration, confusion, and hopes about these circumstances. Gathering as the people of God to help each other understand how He is working in the world will lead us to deeper intimacy with our Creator and our neighbor.
Ultimately, this conversation was cathartic for me. Speaking with others has helped me solidify and balance my thoughts. It has given me a productive avenue to direct my feelings. And, most of all, it has led me to rely more on God to work all things for His purposes and for our good.
Some Memorable Quotes from the Discussion:
Tyler: “My stance and my passion for this has never been predicated on Mike Brown’s total innocence. That’s never been the foundation for human dignity. He has dignity because he’s a human being.”
Michelle: “Righteous anger actually covers every culture, every race, and all of time…If I am angry about injustice it doesn’t matter what color I am.”
Tyler: [On the Christian response] “I’m always more encouraged than discouraged, and that’s a choice…It’s important that we extend a lot of grace to each other.”
Michelle: “The church response has been overwhelming with African Americans. With my white brothers and sisters, I have actually been quite impressed. Have I been impressed by full congregational mobilization? That’s a ‘no’.”
Catch the video here. By the way, we had some slight connection issues that may be a bit annoying. We’ll clean it up and make the audio available later this week.
What actions or conversations have you had around Mike Brown, Ferguson, and the Christian response? Share your comments below!