We had twenty-five people here at church this morning—Chris used the time to talk about all the pain and difficulty in our city and country today. We are worn out from injustice, from the horrible violent deaths of Black men and by the way so many in our country turn to guns and hatred so readily. We are worn out from politics and governments and institutions and systems which fail us, that fail to give all persons fair treatment and equal opportunity.
Chris spoke about how we go on—we go on because we are children of God. No matter what the world does, no matter how the world treats us, no matter who the world wants to think we are, we are children of God and our identity is found in Christ. Chris said, “I am a Black man. I am a husband, a father and a pastor. But most of all, I am a child of God.” No system, no institution, no government, no person can take away the identity we have in Christ.
I am tired of how the personhood and identity of our young Black men is assailed and maligned and chipped away at from the time they are young. I am tired of how many weird little injustices and actions and situations that young Black men have to deal with all the time as they grow up. I am tired of the fact that it takes so much resilience to grow up Black in America with a strong and healthy sense of self. I see how hard that challenge is around me every day.
But we are convinced that God cares and that God will provide the extra supernatural strength that our young men need to grow up healthy and strong and straight and true. So we press on with our work here, to mentor and encourage and support and love all the young Black men God has given us, to help them grow up knowing that they are children of God and to know that they do not have to suffer the hardships and pains of this world by themselves. Today, in church, we affirmed that we are in it together—that we belong to God and one another—and that we will press on to keep living each day trusting that God will show us how we can change and what our part is in making the world better for ourselves and our neighbors.
Today we affirmed life in our church by baptizing little one year old TJ. We celebrated the fact that in spite of all the odds, his mom had come to proclaim Jesus and commit his growing up and his life to God.
We affirmed life by celebrating little Clara’s birthday—we prayed for a long time for her to be joined together with her family after years in the orphanage and here she was today celebrating her first birthday with us.
We affirmed life by remembering the birthday of our precious Jereau, who would have been thirty-three years old today, if he had not died by suicide. We talked of depression and mental health and of the need to come together in our pain and in our suffering. We reminded all that the church is the place to share our broken hearts and broken dreams so we can hold together in times of trial.
So today, in spite of the wickedness and the evil of this world, we affirmed that we are God’s children and we are God’s church.
It has been a busy summer with lots of basketball, games, tournaments, workdays, outings and our first camp. Our second camp begins this week where a large group of middle schoolers will spend time learning why “it takes God to be a Black man.” Please pray that hearts and minds and spirits would be strengthened and renewed in Christ at camp. We haven’t had a great response to our requests for camp scholarships and funds for all the extra meals and driving that have been happening. We trust however, that God will continue to make a way for the vital and important work we do here. Thank you to all of you who support, encourage and pray for us. We need it. Sometimes the darkness becomes heavy, but by God’s mercy and grace we persevere. Please pray that we will have renewed hope and renewed strength for the work and lives God has given us.