The Office of Reconciliation Ministry (ORM) is an international organization whose mission is to put the teaching of Jesus Christ into action by advancing relationships between people of different beliefs and points of view. ORM strives to explore various types of racism and the ways it affects our lives. There are so many aspects of racism that we might not even be aware of such as cultural, stereotyping, internalized, institutionalized, denial—too many to list. Unaware racism can have subconscious negative influences in our lives. Through correspondence, dialogue, workshops, seminars, and training, we seek to bring light to these dark areas using God’s guidance whose desire is for us to live in harmony (John 17:21).
“Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” ~2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)
A few years ago, we did a workshop with the Pasadena Police Department. The Chief at the time was Bernard Melekian, who became a very good friend of this ministry. He said that he told his officers we all have prejudices and he encouraged the officers to take them out and look at them once in a while. I was impressed by how he framed that.
Prejudice means to pre-judge something or someone. We are hearing a lot of conversation about systemic racism. We may not understand how our words or actions can come across as racist to others. Here are a few examples:
- Interrupting or “talking over” others, and condescending behavior
- Offering help when not needed or wanted
- Expressing that color isn’t important or there are no differences (ignoring the reality and value of diversity)
- Saying that Blacks (or other groups) are too sensitive
- Using insensitive language, such as derogatory names like “Oriental” or “Hispanic,” or blanket terms like “ghetto blaster” instead of “boom box”
- Assuming people who don’t look like us are foreigners and don’t belong here
- Assuming all people from a particular group are alike and think alike
These are just a few things people may think and say about people of another race. I am sure you can add things that you have observed as well.
A few weeks ago, Jannice and I were at Home Depot. As we waited in line to check out, we heard a Caucasian lady in front of us talking about how American is broken. She also shared that she just moved to this area to be with her sister who had recently lost her husband. We told her that we moved to the area after we sold our home to our son. He was getting married and being a police officer, he needed to reside close to his job. When the conversation ended she said, “I am going to pray for your son.” We were so moved by her offer to pray for our son.
This past Saturday, our community held the first post-Covid yard sale. When it was over we drove by a home that had a lovely piece of furniture in the yard with a sign that said “free.” My wife asked the owner if she could have it and he said yes but we couldn’t fit it into our car. The owner asked us where we live and offered to bring it to our home on a dolly. We were surprised and touched by his kindness. Now we have a lovely “new” piece of furniture we can use.
I share these stories to make a point: if I had embraced the idea that other people do not accept me because of the color of my skin, I would have missed out on the blessings of having another person pray for my son, being given a free piece of furniture, and the opportunity to get to know my neighbor a little better.
I have learned that respect and kindness will take you far in life. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes we say the wrong thing. I tell people when that happens we need to acknowledge our mistake, apologize and move on.
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 (ESV)
I read this quote today: “Little drops make big puddles.” As reconcilers, let’s continue to set the example of love and respect, making big puddles of love and kindness everywhere we go.
Thank you again for your prayers and support for the ministry. I am praying for you and your families. Things seem to be getting better but continue to stay safe.