Dear Young Black Christian Leader,
I don’t know about you, but I felt sudden sadness and frustration after reading statistics about Blacks dying from COVID-19 at a much higher rate than other Americans. I thought to myself, how did a virus from Wuhan, China become a death threat to Blacks in America?
In full transparency, COVID-19 didn’t feel like much of a crisis to me until statistics on Black Americans were shared. Unfortunately, I took the crisis seriously when it directly impacted my race and community. The problem with this mentality is my lack of empathy for what was happening in China. When stories on the virus started to surface on the news, I thought to myself, “I’m so happy that’s not happening here in America.” Did you feel the same way? If not, I guess I’m the only insensitive person in America. LOL.
Upon reflecting on this, I realized a good leader must empathize with others who suffer near and far and take their issue or problem as a sign that it could happen to anyone. I’m sharing this to acknowledge my racial bias and how it prevented me from responding to a crisis and stepping up as a leader. In order to step up, I had to acknowledge my ignorance and lack of empathy. After dealing with the man in the mirror, I went to the Lord.
As a young black christian leader I depend on my biblical worldview to navigate life, especially during a crisis. After reading articles, watching the news, strolling through social media and reflecting, I prayed; “God, I know this doesn’t mean you don’t like Black people, because your word says you don’t show favoritism. So, why are we suffering and dying more than everyone else?”
In that moment, God made four things clear to me:
1.There is a season for everything.
2.There is hope in darkness.
3. I will need faith and wisdom.
4. I must fight the good fight.
There is a season for everything.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it is written, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” This scripture helped me realize that the current crisis our world faces has an end date. It’s for a season, a time and a purpose. In Daniel 2:20-22, he says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” As leaders, we have to know and tell those who follow us, this too shall pass. We have to seek the Lord and tell the world, “God is in control.” I don’t want to get too preachy, because I’m still struggling with it all as well. But this is a benefit of a Believer in God. We have access to God who is in control of everything.
There is hope in darkness.
I lost hope when those statistics went public about Black Americans dying at an alarming rate. When I watch the news and read articles too much, it steals my hope. When hope is lost it’s hard to imagine an end date. I tend to slip into panic like the rest of the world and can no longer operate as a leader. However, I read a scripture that encouraged me. In Romans 5:5, it is written, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” After reading this scripture, I realized my hope was under attack. I let what I saw on television convince me that God didn’t love Black people. However, this scripture restored my hope and reminded me that believing things will get better is connected to my hope. My hope will not put me to shame and your hope will not put you to shame. Our hope is directly connected to our faith.
As Christians our faith must be accompanied with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. We can’t allow our faith to be used to avoid the truth. Things are not good right now. The present reality is really bad for many people. Therefore, we have to practice empathy in our approach to responding to this pandemic as leaders. Again, I’m not preaching, I’m just sharing what I’m learning during this time.
Have faith and wisdom.
In Hebrews 11:1 it is written, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” In order to activate our faith, we have to hope for a better tomorrow. After taking a break from social media and the news, I realized fear is the greatest distraction from hope. If we’re afraid of what will happen, we can’t hope for a better future. I’m starting to hope again. I pray that you can hope again too. Imagine a better future and people being more connected after this crisis. Imagine a world filled with love and peace. After distancing myself from the world and drawing near to God, I found my hope and that hope activated my faith again.
Fight the good fight.
We have to protect ourselves from COVID-19! Here is the deal, the government, hospitals and churches can’t protect us from this virus. We have to take on the responsibility for ourselves. This means being responsible and adhering to the guidelines put in place to help us navigate this new reality. As Christians we can’t use our faith to ignore wisdom and knowledge. I’m guilty of this. I’ll share something personal to me. In 2017, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, we had an early term pregnancy due to complications and we lost our son. Prior to this issue, there were signs that something was wrong, but I used my faith to override what I saw. I said things like, “ God got us, we’re gonna be okay.” However, I never used the wisdom that was screaming in my mind, “ GO TO THE DOCTOR!” If I’m honest, I was scared of the truth. I didn’t use my faith. While I don’t believe this is why we lost our baby, I think many of us are scared to know the truth. We fear finding out we have medical conditions. As Christians, some of us shout, pray and declare a healing without ever knowing the status of our health. I don’t mean to start criticizing us, because I can only truly speak for myself.
I believe we can use our faith to obtain healing but, we have to know the truth. In the Bible, no one went to Jesus unaware of their issue. They were aware of their health issue or situation and from that place of truth, Jesus was able to heal them. As leaders we have to preach and teach about a faith that requires honesty, not avoidance and distractions. Am I preaching again? I’m sorry.
Leaders, we have to fight the good fight. America allows Black people to be oppressed. Power and authority is disproportionately distributed due to racism. Racism is a system based on color that gives people of a certain race superiority over others. So, how are we to fight racial injustice with the authority and power God has given to us? We have to face our own injustices within our hearts and exchange them for God’s heart towards all humanity. For example, In Isaiah 5:5-9, the prophet had an encounter with God prior to fulfilling his assignment from God. He had to face his sinfulness and then go to fight against the injustices of Israel. I believe we all carry some form of injustice and in order to fight the good fight, we have to address what’s in our hearts first. Fighting injustice requires a level of purity and surrender to the agenda of God. Our bias can’t lead us in the fight. God has to lead it.
During a time, when things are uncertain, we need to own our ignorance. Now is a good time to express what we don’t know more than expressing what we do know. This will require us to truly listen. I believe, post-pandemic, we will need to have more conversations than lectures. People are spending time with their thoughts and want to share how they feel about what’s happening and we need to be open to hearing other point-of-views. People want to be talked with and not talked to.
Lastly, I pray you’re empowered to stand with God and fight the good fight. Challenge the status quo by asking tough questions to your leaders, families and friends. Plan events that will spark a movement to bring change. Don’t be silent. Speak up. Act. We need you to be a leader.
Your Brother in Christ