A Letter to Young Black Christian Leaders

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. 

With love, 

Your Brother in Christ

Part One: Father Hunger

As any young man, there was a need for my father.

But like so many others, mine was not there.

Robert McGee, author of “Father Hunger,” describes this book-entitled condition as an individual having a deep need for love and affection of their father. Because this need is unfulfilled, they feel empty, which oftentimes evolves into bitterness, fear, and pain. I know for a fact I suffered from this and to be honest, I’m still processing some of the effects.

My father hunger would spark great reflection upon my relationship with God. Did my father’s absence hinder my understanding of God’s word? Did my father’s absence limit my ability to comprehend God and His purpose for mankind–specifically, His purpose for men? To answer these questions, some studying was required, and I was moved to start with the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Genesis starts with the creation story of man, Adam and from Adam, God creates a woman, Eve. What’s so crucial about this is God creates man in His image, but the Bible does not say God is Adam’s father.

A couple questions arise for me: was Adam fatherless? Or was God his father? If God is Adam’s father, how did he raise him? In my opinion, God proves great fatherhood here—Adam inherits everything God creates. This proves God believes in legacy. Also, God instructs Adam to name what He has created—this is teaching Adam responsibility, the power of his words, and also what is mine is yours. Furthermore, Adam overall has direct access to God. In order for any father/son relationship to work, there must be honest, open, transparent communication.

With that being said, we only have a rather short narrative of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God gives Adam and Eve instructions and they disobey. As a result, they were punished by God. Thus, Adam is the first father on earth.

From Adam, many fathers are born. However, God is not pleased with mankind. As punishment, He floods the earth but spares Noah and his family. God starts over with Noah–establishes a new covenant and he then becomes the first father of the new world. Throughout the Old Testament, after Noah, we see an incredible lineage that is God-focused but also, we see a great covenant with God. The father establishes a relationship with God and teaches his son to have one. In his death, his son(s) will continue on and fulfill the work of God.

God’s covenant was first threatened by the systemic prosecution of sons in Egypt. In the book of Exodus, Pharaoh attempts to destroy God’s covenant by killing the Hebrew sons (God’s chosen people). Moses would then become the first example of being fatherless but chosen to fulfill God’s work.

Moses’s mother sent him away to protect him from persecution. Moses was adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh and was raised within the empire as an Egyptian. However, it was not until he connected to his father-in-law, Jethro, that he has a mind-blowing encounter with God and discovers the purpose of his life. From a biblical standpoint, it is evident fatherhood is essential to God’s mission.

This intentional obstruction of God’s covenant and destructive mentality is relevant today–the war on the Black family. Young Black men are not legally being killed, but you see the attack on them through police brutality, discrimination, and racial bias. But these are remnants of the oldest system of oppression: slavery–a tragic era where Blacks were handled as property and most importantly, their family structure didn’t matter. Therefore, in order to keep the property in compliance with the overarching goal, the family was separated. The father was removed and sold to another owner or worst, killed. Now, 72 percent of Black children are born without fathers according to the US Census Bureau. This then inspired reflection on my father’s absence from a systemic perspective and raises a couple more questions: if this is God’s covenant, where do I fit in God’s mission as a fatherless man? Am I qualified to be used by God without being raised by a father?

Although my father was absent, I understand now it wasn’t his fault–completely. As a black man in this country, I have discovered my father and I exist within a system designed not only to impede upon and sever our dynamic but also, ensure this cycle continues through generation to generation. In 1987, my father was 19 years old when I was conceived. He was a Black boy who made an adult decision. He didn’t have the resources or knowledge to raise me. I’m confident there wasn’t a father figure in his life to steer or lead him in the direction he should go. Nor was he my mother’s husband. He was a byproduct of a system that forces Black men to abandon their greatest commitments–their families, and/or also, self-destruct. Yes, I grew up fatherless, but all hope was not lost. In part two, I will explain how I satisfied my father hunger. In the meantime, let’s reflect on this post. In one word, drop how you feel in the comments.

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