66 shooting victims in 3 days. That is the recent reality for Chicago residents. Bystanders were hit outside of laundromats, schools, even at a funeral.
How did we get to this point? How did there get to be so much hatred and violence within our communities that these things can happen?
“What’s happening is attributed first and foremost to the failure and the breakdown of family, especially in the African American community.”
That’s Raleigh Washington, formerly pastor of Rock Of Our Salvation Evangelical Free Church in urban Chicago. He shows us two massive issues that contributed toward the outbreak of violance and racial tension within our society.
“In the 1960’s only 17% of African-Americans were living in single parent homes. Today it’s 90%. That fundamental break in family is a direct contribution to the problem. The second critical dynamic is a lack of relationship between the urban and the suburban church.”
“When Trayvon Martin was murdered in Sanford, Florida, pastors there knew me, and knew my heart for reconciliation, and asked me to come because they were up in arms. When I went they wanted to gather their African-American pastors. I said I would only come if they would gather the white pastors, the Hispanic pastors, the Asian pastors, all of the pastors. They did that and I gave them a seminar on reconciliation, then I challenged them.”
“I said ‘You can’t let Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton come and speak to your community, YOU have to be the spokesman for your community as pastors and leaders. But you can only do that by demonstrating to your community that you, the believers, know how to get along with one another across racial lines.”
Paul teaches that our identity is so much more than the color of our skin.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Yet today, even in our churches, we are more concerned about how we are different. We worship differently, we pray differently, we preach differently, and that is enough to keep us from ever interacting. What if we came together instead, to celebrate our differences made into one being by God?
This is what Raleigh sought to do in Sanford as the community responded to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
“They did that. They got together monthly and swapped pulpits. A year and half later they had the trial of George Zimmerman, who murdered Trayvon Martin, but he was found not guilty. Riots broke out across America everywhere except Sanford, Florida. Why? Because the Church, the Body of Christ, the pastors, and the community come together demonstrated to the community that we can relate to each other, and they decided that no matter what the decision was they were not going to riot, and there were zero riots in Sanford following that trial.”
“The solution is the Church of Jesus Christ. The solution is what happened in Sanford Florida. If that happens in Chicago or anywhere, and other citizens and pastors come together to say ‘we’re going to speak community and we’re going to demonstrate community,’ we can get along across racial lines and we will make a difference. Then, I believe, things can be turned around.”
There is an incredible divide in our world right now and the one thing that can unify us across all things is Jesus. You are not black or white, you are not a cop or a gang member. In the eyes of God we are brothers and sisters. We are believers and followers. We are not separate, we are one, and when we can worship as such, we will see each other as such.
Raleigh Washington is president of Promise Keepers, and was awarded the Doctor of Peacemaking by Westminster College, an award only given otherwise to Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa. He is the founder and former pastor of Rock Of Our Salvation Evangelical Free Church in ChicagoRaleigh Washington - Relationships, Not Reconciliation