How to H.E.L.P. Your Neighbor Achieve Racial Unity
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
And he said, “Go.”
My sweet friend Tiffany Edwards has been placed in an unexpected mission field that’s a world apart… and also right outside her front door.
Tiffany and I were introduced by a mutual friend, Amy Carroll. I can hardly tell them apart on the phone, they both have the same lilt to their southern drawl. We all love Jesus desperately and rely on His Word and wisdom. But when we Zoom, it’s quickly apparent that the color of our skin is a few shades different.
There’s a deep ache in Tiffany’s heart to see racial reconciliation in our nation, beginning in the church. Beyond any impact this would have on her family and our Black neighbors, Tiffany is most concerned with the division unresolved racial issues cause in the Kingdom of God. This hurts God’s heart and it should ours, too.
I’ll let her tell you the rest –
How to H.E.L.P. Your Neighbor Achieve Racial Unity
by Tiffany Edwards
I am a Black woman who has a divine assignment to help build racial unity by becoming a member of a predominantly white church.
A gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit, affirmed with undeniable signs and warnings, called me out from the diverse church where I both worked and worshipped to a new church – one where approximately 1,500 white faces worshipped each week (pre-Covid), and only about ten people of color.
This new assignment was perplexing because I had no training in race relations and no degree in African American Studies, but that is not what God required. He equips those He calls.
Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.
Why would he pick me to greet guests as the receptionist and direct the Preschool Ministry where parents would entrust me with their precious children? The answer is simple, because Jesus commanded, “Go into ALL the world and preach the gospel to all creation…” (Mark 16:15) – not just ones that look like me or those in my comfort zone.
After being at my new church for two years, a flurry of killings including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted a deluge of sympathetic expressions from my church family and inquiries of,
“How can I help to promote racial unity?”
The answer came to me in this acronym for H.E.L.P.
H = Heed
Heed or pay attention to happenings in the lives of people of color in your community and our country. Take note of concerns and follow various news sources that you may have disregarded previously.
We must also heed the laws that govern us and enforce them fairly. For example, differences in cocaine sentencing have caused offenders carrying small amounts of crack cocaine – which was more accessible in poor urban communities – to receive arbitrarily severe sentences compared to high level powder cocaine offenders. The result was that mostly African American offenders carrying 5 grams of crack (the weight of two pennies) received longer sentences than the mostly white and Hispanic offenders carrying a pound of powder cocaine.
You cannot help unless you acknowledge and admit the problems. Until systemic racism is acknowledged and eradicated, racial tension will persist and flourish.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 1 Timothy 5:21
E = Educate
Participate in a ONE CHURCH discussion group. My husband and I lead these Christian conversations for the purpose of racial unity. Join our Facebook Group to be informed of the next session.
Learn about people of color in American history. Watch Race: The Power Of An Illusion followed by reading the book White Fragility. Download a free list of resources including books, children’s books, podcasts, movies, and courses from our friend Amy Carroll. Don’t forget to share what you learn with others.
A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. Proverbs 14:6
L = Love
Love your neighbor, meaning you need to meet and care for people not like you. Be intentional about your kindness, concern and friendliness. Start by just saying hi to someone who doesn’t look like you as you walk down the sidewalk, stand in the elevator, or wait in line at the grocery store. This simple gesture conveys that you are not afraid and that you see the individual as a beautiful creation reflecting God’s image.
Also, show your love by supporting Black owned businesses and organizations that help people of color. This will grow your empathy while helping others in a tangible way.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18
P = Persevere
Helping to bridge the racial divide takes intentionality and perseverance. You will want to give up. If you truly want to help, be determined.
Racial issues have tested my family’s resilience in intense ways, both inside and outside of Christian environments. Our ability to trust and depend on God has helped us to persevere especially when justice was denied.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
About Tiffany Edwards
Tiffany Edwards grew up attending church, but it was through reading a book series about wayward girls that she first asked Jesus to come into her heart. Although she could not relate to the extreme circumstances that these girls were facing, she did yearn for the unconditional love that each of them eventually found.
In 1992, while in college, she publicly gave her life to the Lord. Although Jesus was her Savior by faith, she had not surrendered and allowed Him to become Lord of her life. She was not living for Him.
This growth did not begin until 2005 when Tiffany was in a serious car wreck caused by a drunk driver. As her body healed, she joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), bsfinternational.org, where she now serves as a Substitute Teaching Leader for a class of 450 women. Studying the Bible verse by verse in BSF has helped her spiritual life to mature.
The doctors once told Tiffany there was no medical explanation for why she survived. However, she knows that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God has kept that promise. God helped her through one of the hardest times in her life to prepare her to be used by Him in new ways.