Dear Evanston Vineyard Family,
We’ve seen recent events that have stolen the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Police brutality. Blatant racism. Violence. But none of this is new. It’s been happening for years. And all of this has spilled into demonstrations and angry protests, right next door. Last Sunday, police cars raced to the plaza where our church is located. The Best Buy was broken into as well as Target.
This is what happens when one of the most basic needs of humanity continues to go unmet. We all need to be seen. We all need to be listened to. That has not happened for our black and brown brothers and sisters. Their suffering has been met with silence, averted eyes, and even the corrupt covering over by government officials. Pain ignored will bubble up. It was only a matter of time. That’s what we’re seeing right now, plastered all over the news, no farther away than just down the street. We’re seeing pain.
We at the Evanston Vineyard FULLY support peaceful protest because of the unconscionable violence done to our black brothers and sisters, many of whom call our church home. Our church stands with you. Our church loves you. We march with you.
The God who hears heard the pain of the Israelites — He heard the cries and sent a deliverer.
The God who sees saw the suffering of people broken under the weight of sin and death and sent a deliverer, Jesus.
Jesus saw and heard the cries of people in pain, sent to a lowly country under Roman oppression. He laid hands on and healed so many, people that have been ignored, cast out, and even discriminated against.
You have heard Steve, our Founding Pastor say over and over again that God is desperate to heal us. He does that, in part, by sending us His Spirit, because where He is, there is freedom.
That’s our God. And He asks us to not just to stand but to act.
So how can we act?
1. PRAY. Pray. Fast. Pray that the God who makes all things new would dismantle and renew broken systems. Our police system needs the hand of God. Our government does, too. Come, Holy Spirit. Pray for the families of the victims of this violence. Pray for the church. Pray repentance where you need to — I repent of the cowardice of my Asian-American experience. I waited for my black and brown brothers and sisters to speak so that I could stay hidden. I’m so, so sorry.
2. LEARN. You can look at everything happening today and trace it back 400 years to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. You can trace the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the words of a Portuguese priest who, under the direction of a wayward Prince, named slavery the hope of “evangelization” of the African world. It’s ludicrous and sad. You can also learn the names of those who have lost their lives like George Floyd, if you don’t know them. There is Michael Brown. There is Philando Castile. There is Eric Garner. There are many, many others. You can learn about policies and systems that are in place that directly led to their deaths and the deaths of many others. You can open your eyes to the truth and not be blinded by the god of this age.
3. MARCH IN PEACEFUL PROTEST. We grieve with those who have small businesses and have lost so much during these last few days. But we also know that our presence in peaceful protests matters. Where you can, show up, show support and show love.
4. FIGHT CORRUPT SYSTEMS. I’m still learning how we can do this. I long for our true Leader, Jesus, to rule and reign, to bring peace and justice. But until then, in the very least, we need to put in office leaders who are wise and who are reformers. We need people in power who will not fall in line with our current reality, because that reality has failed us again and again. It’s taken the lives of too many. Vote. There are simple and provably effective steps our local governments can implement that will save lives. Talk to your representatives. Speak up.
Personally, I would like to say that I’m bewildered by everything that has been happening. I’m so, so grieved. I am praying desperately for wisdom and help. Humbly I offer myself to you, church. I’m still learning. But I’m willing to learn and be your servant.
Grace and peace to you all,