Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon

THE FUTURE IS WHAT WE MAKE IT

Black History Month is with us again, and the recent events in Ferguson, US – where unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot dead by police – has once again put a spotlight on how police forces treat Black men throughout the world.

Following coverage of this tragic incident, some people are saying the violence and looting that occurred in Ferguson afterwards, as the community fought for justice, is proof that Black people have not progressed much since the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. But is that true?

In some ways, Blacks have made great progress in the US: the civil rights movement has resulted in the growth of the African-American middle class; the country elected its first ever Black president in 2008; and Black Americans are now included amongst some of the world’s most influential people. But, in other ways, they haven’t – particularly with regards to Black men being the victims of police brutality, filling up the prison system, and being part of the growing Black poor. And, unfortunately, this is a fact the world over.

However, the election of America’s first ever Black president should provide living proof that Black people can achieve anything if they put in the necessary effort. Maybe the truth of the matter is that the main progress people of colour need to make is a mental one. There are opportunities galore for Black people in the western world, if we have self-belief, some faith, and are willing to work to make our dreams a reality.

Part of being able to take advantage of opportunities will also entail Black communities giving respect – even if it’s only grudgingly – to the key institution that has affirmed Black people, provided solace, and been an incubator for Black achievement – and that is the Church. Even President Obama is a product of it, and that is why I have little time for people who seem to make it their life’s vocation to criticise everything the Church stands for, or harp on in ignorance that Christianity is a ‘White man’s religion’. Don’t they know that most of the Old Testament stories took place in the Middle East and North Africa; that the founder of Christianity was Jewish, and that Christianity was taken to Africa by Philip, one of the original disciples of Jesus?

As world citizens of the 21st century, it is beholden upon all people of colour to ask themselves what they want from life.  If the answer is that they want opportunities to fulfil their potential, achieve their dreams and ambitions, and be treated with respect, I believe it’s possible. However, in pursuing one’s dreams, we shouldn’t forget that the fight against injustice remains a continual one for Black communities throughout the world, and that it’s one we must win.

Even if it’s just for Michael Brown.

DON’T REJECT GOD BECAUSE OF PEOPLE

With recent news broadcasts filled with stories about the war in Iraq, we are hearing of Christians who literally have to choose between death and recanting Christ to serve another god, yet we have believers, living in the West, turning their backs on Christianity for reasons I would deem questionable.

Reasons include: being overlooked for a hoped-for ministerial position; being upset because someone said something negative about them; or because they experienced betrayal. Although these things are unpleasant, and it’s unsettling to experience any of the above, is it worth leaving the church and turning your back on God for? I don’t think so.

First and foremost, Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, paid a heavy price for humanity to be reconciled to God.  He died on the cross. The least we can do as believers is to be appreciative of this, and respond by serving God wholeheartedly.

Secondly, Christians are likened to soldiers in God’s army and, like anyone involved in warfare, they might have to face a battle by themselves or endure hardship. In fact, the Apostle Paul says that they will. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Furthermore, the Bible states we should expect and embrace challenges that come with following Christ. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

So, the next time you are offended or upset by someone’s off key behaviour, don’t get mad or decide to turn your back on God!  Pray for them, and remember that trials are sent to make you better.

PRAY FOR THE WORLD

In the past few months, a lot of major crises have hit the news headlines, including:

  • the Ebola health crisis impacting West Africa
  • the war in Iraq
  • the war in Syria
  • the war in Gaza
  • the riots in Ferguson, US
  • and the missing Nigerian schoolgirls, kidnapped by Islamic extremists Boko Haram

It can be very distressing watching news reports of these very serious issues, and feeling totally helpless at the same time, because there seems to be little that we can do.

However, there is much that we can do.

Prayer

First and foremost, we can pray for God to bring His healing, hope and peace into each of the above situations.  Secondly, we can support charities and voluntary organisations that are working to provide humanitarian aid in these areas of distress and, thirdly, if need be, we can write to our local MP to find out what stance the government is taking on these issues.

If, however, all you can do is pray then please do, because God has promised to both hear and answer our prayers and, at this present moment in time, the world desperately needs them.

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