God is on our side
The book of Genesis opens with how God created the heavens, the earth and humankind – people made in His image. For Black people, the fact we are made in God’s image is important, because it reminds us that, although we might not matter to some people, we matter greatly to God.
This is why, during 400 years of enslavement and beyond, Black people have held tightly onto God and faith, and why we identify fully with the message of Jesus.
Slave plantation owners knew that once slaves started reading Scripture, and learned that God is merciful, loves the poor and downtrodden, and stands for justice, they would not be easy to control, so they tore out certain pages in the Bible that alluded to this. This piece of hidden history was recently revealed, highlighting: (i) the slaveowners knew what they were doing was wrong, and (ii) the Word of God is powerful.
We should be mindful that today, despite the challenges we experience, we are living in a freedom that former slaves dreamed about, prayed for, agitated for and fought for.
The longer I live, the more I realise and recognise that our actions reflect our thoughts, sometimes subconsciously. The book of Romans 12:2 states: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.’
This world, especially the Media, is very good at making lots of people – not just Black people – feel like there isn’t a place for them. Christians with power and influence must use their position to let those who feel oppressed, excluded and exploited, know that:
• God loves them
• They are made in His image
• They have a special place in His heart
• He has a special plan and purpose for their life
• He hears their cry, and
• He will work things out for their good
The oppressed often believe these truths instinctively. It’s no surprise, then, that over the years, the Church and the message it proclaims have played a major role in the liberation of Black people across the world – whether spiritually, socially, psychologically or economically. The examples found in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, the Civil Rights Movement in America, and the move for independence in Africa highlight this.
As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s remind ourselves that we are created in God’s image, that God is for us, and that He sides
No perfect churches, no perfect Christians
Can people get out of this habit of stating that whenever they have a bad experience in a Black church, as a Black person, they aren’t going to attend a Black church anymore?
Does being Black have a get-out clause?
I have been a member of Black Pentecostal churches all my life.
I acknowledge they are not perfect, and sometimes our experiences within them wound our spirit; make us depressed, or cause us to want to lose the faith. However, are they worse than other churches? No. People are people. People are not perfect, and don’t always reflect Christlike qualities. And yes, sometimes they hurt us.
During the many years I’ve reported on the faith community, I have written or been told personal stories about Black Christians, who have experienced racism in Britain’s traditional churches – to the point that it has impacted their spiritual growth; their gifts to the church have not been recognised, and they have been made to feel they are not made in God’s image.
I state the above, not to cause a stampede from traditional or White-led churches, or for those who are unhappy in their Black churches to stay put. Rather, I want to highlight that, in spite of people stating they are Christian, they sometimes think and do unchristian things.
Where does this put those who are unhappy with their Black churches? If you feel led to leave a church, do so for the right reasons. Pray about it. Speak to leadership and trusted Christians. And leave on good terms, so that if you don’t like the church you move on to, you can go back. But don’t leave just because it’s a Black church!!!
Be open to the holy spirit
Latterly I’ve felt that the Holy Spirit wants me to draw closer to God – not necessarily to read His Word more or pray more, but rather to know and listen to His voice. Sometimes we can miss what He is saying to us about the situations we find ourselves in, the people we meet, and the opportunities that come our way.
I’ve been in situations where everything seemed fine on the surface, but I discerned something different by the Holy Spirit. Right now, getting deeper into God should result in us praying prophetically, with greater faith, greater discernment and recognising God’s voice.
We are living in difficult times, and need to lean on God more than ever.
May our hearts be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, and obedient to God’s direction for our lives.