Speaking at an ‘hour of prayer’ event on 18th June 2020 to mark an international stand by Baptists against racism, the general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, Elijah Brown, quoted African-American pastor William Shaw: “Jesus’ ministry was not the work of relief but of reversal.” Brown went on to say, “What we need today is not relief; it is repentance and reversal and repair.” We asked Josie Te Kahu and Andy Shudall for permission to share pieces they had written for other contexts about racism and reconciliation.
A different way of being
Josie’s article was originally written for Baptist Women.*
Here within the Baptist movement of Aotearoa, we have already started our bicultural relationship/engagement/journey.
This recognises the value and importance of hearing from those voices who are often silenced. It also acknowledges the treaty partnership between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti.
Recently, with Baptist Women of Aotearoa, we recognised the need for co-design, co-creation to ensure that, collectively, our voices are contributing at strategic, resource and implementation levels.
It is really important that this is a priority for Baptist women, regardless of the climate we find ourselves in. That we are actively engaging and seeking each other’s voices about decisions. In doing so, we create thought processes and actions that benefit all, rather than some.
If this is our constant state of being, we will always be actively changing the organisational culture that exists, and creating deep culture change. One that reflects the heart of God.
It is this commitment to daily relate to one another that provides an example of a different way of being to a divided world in turmoil.
Our actions should speak louder than our voices. We don’t need to comment or excuse ourselves or make any declarations.
Perhaps our only declaration is that we will remain diligent about working collaboratively in order that we might see each other. Acknowledge each other. Respect each other. Love each other and be willing to give preference to each other. If we commit ourselves to this, we will offer the world around us an example of the transformational love of Jesus. One that can unify us rather than divide us.
Racial disharmony will rise to the surface every so often because there is an enemy in the world who seeks always to undo the good that God does. Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that racism exists, but we must never be accepting of it. Let’s not be found sleeping or apathetic, but may we instead be found to be providing hope and light and life.
On a practical level, I would encourage local churches to contact our Manatū Iriiri Māori to discuss how deep culture change can occur within their church and community. Also, Jennie Ekigbo is involved in a Christian racial justice and reconciliation group called Be the Bridge. It has a helpful resource for white New Zealanders to recognise and understand their own racial bias. It is a suitable programme for groups and churches, as I understand it. You can access it at bethebridge.com/btb101 or you can email Jennie if you would like to learn more.
Contributor: Josie Te Kahu
Josie’s tribal affiliations are Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Paoa and Ngāi Tahu. She is married to Rewai Te Kahu, with three sons—Manaakinui, Caleb and Joshua. She is a home educator, business owner and mentor, trustee and chairperson for Te Aroha Noa Community Services Trust Board, a strategic team member for Manatū Iriiri Māori, and an elder at Palmerston North Central Baptist Church.
God hates racism
This article was originally posted on Andy’s personal Facebook profile on 3rd June 2020.*
Five times in the book of Revelation, the term “[a crowd of] …persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” appears.
This crowd sing God’s praise together (5:9), having been declared pure (7:9); together they witness the judgement of God on humanity (11:9), suffer under the Beast’s cruelty (13:7) and receive the ‘eternal gospel’ (14:6).
The only things to indicate their diversity— ethnicities and languages—are here before the throne of God. Our skin colour, our languages, will remain and be renewed and endure into eternity—our unity in Christ is adorned by our diversity. Dignity in all humanity is declared by the sanctification and adoption of the full breadth of human society into this eternal whānau/family of faith.
Black Lives Matter. God Hates Racism.
Once, 20 years ago, in the middle of teaching a diverse group of God’s people from Scripture and talking about the hope of eternity, I began the sentence “Our differences will fade away…” and was deeply convicted about what I functionally believed. I was struck by the work of the Holy Spirit, of the deeply racist and white supremacist belief that we would all be white in heaven. No one had taught me that; no one had sat me down and imparted it, but there it hit me—as I finished the sentence.
I stood, looking at their faces in different hues of blacks, browns and pinks.
“I’m sorry,” I continued, “but I need to repent…” I repented of my functional white supremacy, there, in the middle of that talk, the preacher undone in preaching by the gospel of God I was preaching.
You may be better than I am—in fact, I’m sure you are—but don’t think that this is an American problem, a Republican problem, a ‘them’ problem.
Racism is deeply ingrained in our society, insidiously set in our world views and unconscious functioning beliefs, and is part of the air that we breathe and the way that feels most natural to us. We don’t need a little change; we need repentance. We need transformation, not tears, and resolute reordering, not passionate professions. And the burden for change rests not on those protesting in the USA but on those of us who experience the reflexive privileges of being white.
Is there anything wrong with being white? Not at all, but asking that question and especially in the context of today even asking that question at all, is to deliberately gaslight the entire world. To deny that white privilege and therefore white fragility exists is to assert that the dis/comfort of white folk trumps the dignity of black folk and therein we become the illustrations of the problem we seek to deny.
Black Lives Matter into eternity. That’s why all this matters now.
Contributor: Andy Shudall
Andy is of Anglo-Irish descent, has lived in New Zealand for 15 years and is married to Ines. They have three adult children and one grandchild, with another one on the way. Andy is a member of Titirangi Baptist Church, where he serves as senior pastor.
For clarity, Andy writes “The Black Lives Matter movement is older than the Black Lives Matter Global Network who own blacklivesmatter.com. BLM as a slogan of the movement is broader than, and existed before, any statements of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.”
*With the writers’ approval, both Josie’s and Andy’s original articles have had minor changes for our publication, either to add extra explanatory detail or to fit the magazine’s editorial style.