Dear THC Friends and Champions,
This August update was going to be about Kansas City students heading back to school. In just a few days, The Hope Center’s youth ministry programs will be launching for the 2014-2015 school year, and we need your prayers for our kick-off parties, volunteer training sessions, and new ministry initiatives.
However, on August 9, a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., fatally shot an unarmed African-American teenager named Michael Brown, launching the community of Ferguson into the national spotlight. Over the last three weeks story after story has unfolded in Ferguson. These stories raise questions about race relations; the ongoing infractions against and killing of African-American males without recourse; police misconduct or brutality; and a nation deeply divided by these realities. These issues relate to our work at The Hope Center and I felt I could not send a ministry update without addressing this event.
I know many of you have a diversity of views pertaining to this situation and some of you may feel removed from the reporting of it. However, I believe we can unite around this idea: great days are ahead of us in Kansas City. I feel confident that what took place in Ferguson will not be repeated here because our response can be and must be different. What an opportunity for the Church!
As a African-American male, husband of 24 years, father of five children (three sons), and the executive director of The Hope Center – as well as one who has encountered a plethora of injustices in both the evangelical and secular circles of society my response to the current events in Ferguson is multifaceted.
- Racial Righteousness: As a Christian I do not look to culture to model a way to live together in oneness not sameness (1 Corinthians 12). Rather, the Church is responsible to set this standard. The Church—regardless of race, economic status or political affiliation—has the great challenge and opportunity of modeling how people can live together and love one another as disciples of Jesus Christ (John 15).
- Act justly: Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse reminds Christians of the standard that God requires. Acting justly as a righteous people allows us to speak truth to power in our culture, and call out wrong regardless of skin color or economic context. God is loving and just. Justice allows the sinful to become the children of God. When Saints are quiet in the midst of injustice we condone it.
- Generation Next: Our youth are baffled by war, economic instability, poverty, neighborhood conflict and the contradiction they perceive in the phrase “to serve and protect.” Throughout 30 years of ministry my emphasis has been on teaching Christian young people how to make the connection between their Christian faith and life. What we believe should affect how we behave. Youth are often confused by the behavior of adults they observe acting in ways that contradict the things they claim to believe. At The Hope Center our desire is that the example set by THC staff and volunteers illuminate a clearer example to our students of how to live out our Christian beliefs. It is a challenging opportunity before us – to reach and develop world-class students who see the inherent value of people as God created them, and to serve and love those people toward a relationship with Christ.
Three things you can do now:
- Respond to us: Click here to indicate your interest in discussing this subject matter in a community fellowship forum, which I will lead at The Hope Center.
- Read more on this topic: Divided By Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith; Deep Justice in a Broken World by Chap Clark and Kara Powell; Oneness Embraced by Dr. Tony Evans.
- Pray for these requests: Peace and justice in Ferguson, MO; Comfort for families who are victims of gun violence; the church to regain their prophetic voice in the culture; The Hope Center’s efforts in reaching, equipping and empowering families and especially young men on the east side of Kansas City.
Thankful for your partnership,
The Hope Center