By Jose Cortes, Jr – Columbia, Maryland . . . “I can’t breathe…”
“I need water… I can’t breathe”
These were the words that kept me, my wife and our two teenage sons, glued to the screen, as we watched George Floyd’s life slowly slip away, as a white police officer knelt on his neck. Yes we were watching the last moments of a man’s life, on the pavement, handcuffed, begging for air, water, mama, with the knee of a cruel man on his neck. Tears, sadness, and hurt filled my heart as my stomach tightened with anger. The human being in me, knew this had to be wrong. The United States citizen in me, knew this was definitely illegal. The Christian in me knew this was sinful, a commandment was definitely being broken. And the Pastor in me, knew for sure this was morally reprehensible.
As I watched in horror, I knew that something had to be done, I had to do something, but what can a Pastor and a disciple of Jesus do in the face of injustice, discrimination, and crime?
Here are a few things we can do to start with:
Pray for George’s family and the families of others who have recently been killed unjustly. Pray for communities who have been victims of prejudice and continue to suffer from racism and discrimination today, not only in Minneapolis but right in your city. Pray for the perpetrators of injustice and crimes regardless of their despicable actions. Jesus died for them too.
Call, text, FaceTime an African American family, a colleague, a friend, ask the question “How are you?” Listen, and offer your genuine condolences.
Although we should all be heart-broken and enraged by this act of violence and the ones that have preceded it, we know that our African American brothers and sisters are bearing the most abundant share of the pain. It is African American moms and dads who worry as their sons go out for a jog or a drive, knowing that something could go wrong anytime. They have the right to feel that way because of past and current history, a history that other communities have not experienced or endured. Their worries, concerns, and fears are real. This is once again the time to support our African-American colleagues and communities. They should not have to bear the pain and defend themselves at the same time.
Use your platform to speak up against what is wrong, denounce racism, discrimination, and demand change. This is something all disciples of Jesus can do, but Pastors are leaders, not only within the walls of the church but beyond in the community. As disciples of Jesus we are the moral compass in our communities and the spiritual voice in our nation, and we should not give up our God-given mandate. We are not here to echo what others, who are not in tune with God are saying, we are here to lead and serve like the prophets of old.
Don’t buy the mythical and failed argument which continues to empower racists, abusers, and perpetrators, which proposes that advocating for people’s right to live is political. It is not political, it is human, it is right, and Jesus would have addressed it. As His followers we ought to! As disciples of Jesus and ministers of the gospel it is our duty to uphold the sanctity of life, and to speak up for the right to live, not only of the unborn but also for the born.
If the death of George Floyd bothered you, if you feel that it was morally reprehensible, please don’t stay quiet, say something. If you believe that Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others were taken from us too soon due to racism, speak up. Use the gifts and the influence that God has given you to bless your community. Staying quiet in the face of human pain, discrimination, and abuse is not a characteristic of the followers of Jesus. Queen Esther didn’t, neither did the Apostle Paul, nor Jesus. It is time to make it clear that as disciples of Jesus we do not stand for discrimination, injustice, and murder.
The Bible is clear:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8,9)
——Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Director of the Ministerial Association and leads Evangelism, Church Planting, and Adventist/Global Mission for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Photo supplied
This article was originally published on the NAD Ministerial Website.