Over the last few weeks and months, the climate of our country has truly been bringing some things to the surface. It’s been a moment in history where we all must choose to stand for something, and it has been encouraging for me to see how the Church is rising up where we have been far too silent until now.
Last week, I, along with most of Adventures in Missions’ staff, was able to be part of a gathering that was hosted by OneRace Movement — an organization that exists to “displace the spirit of racism and release a movement of racial reconciliation across Atlanta, the Southeast, and the nation.”
More than 13,000 people met in the heart of Atlanta to raise our voices to the public, our governments and to God, the only One that can truly bring reconciliation.
We worshipped together. We prayed together. We lamented for the current state of our country and how far we have to go. We repented for our own roles in allowing systemic racism to continue. We marched to the Capitol Building where we prayed over the police chief of Atlanta and the government. We ended with a celebration of worship that God is still God and He is still so, so good even in the midst of all of this.
I grew up in a small town in the deep south. Population: 4,000. Over the last few years— since I went to college, worked as an Investigations Social Worker for the State of Alabama, and then ventured out of the country with the World Race — I have been on my own journey. One of completely unravelling the things deep in my heart and soul that I was taught growing up. Things that are not the ways of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord has taught me that I can’t unsee things. Once I see a new reality, I am responsible for how I will respond and how I will act; I can no longer be ignorant. Right now in our country and even around the world, people are being exposed to the deep seeds of racism that have always been in our society and in our hearts. We can no longer look the other way.
When we marched to the Capitol Building, the prompt was not to demand change in our government and society, but to pray and ask God to change our own hearts. It first starts with us; we must get the log out of our own eye before we can help get the splinter out of others.
This unravelling and unlearning is a lot of work and is the most necessary thing to begin racial reconciliation in this world.
One of the things I kept hearing throughout the day was “pray with your feet.” Pray to God to come and bring healing and reconciliation and then get to work being the answer to the prayers you are praying. James 2:14-17 tells us:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Our salvation isn’t based on works, but if we are so in love with Jesus then we will do what He asks of us. We should be clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. We should also be “learning to do good, seeking justice and fighting for the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17).
Our love for Jesus will come out of us in the way of being a voice for the voiceless, seeking justice and loving mercy.
We want the world to know about the Love that has changed our lives. We want the world to know and be part of this Kingdom.
We must simultaneously do the inner work in ourselves while also raising our voices on behalf of our Black brothers and sisters. We must take action by not just loving our Black and Brown brothers and sisters but getting out and voting, bringing awareness when the media stops covering it, and calling our local officials to demand change. We must read the books, listen to the podcasts and do the digging into the dark places in our hearts where we are holding biases and prejudices.
We must sit with the Lord and pray:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
Psalm 139: 23-24
Jesus was always found with the oppressed and marginalized. He was with the poor. He was with the lepers. He was with the sinners. He was with the people that were from “that side of town” or that had “that skin tone and background.” He was with the ones with long criminal records. He was also with the ones who picked up stones and drew lines in the sand. He was with the ones who felt they were higher than others.
But He erased the lines that people tried to draw. He asked people to put down their stones and He called the oppressed to places of high honor.
In the words of Josh Clemons (co-director of OneRace Movement) “we aren’t here for trendy activism, we are here for a lifestyle change of the Kingdom coming to earth.”
Kacie Tilman is a World Race alumna (2015)