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The latest prayer letter from RCA general secretary Tom De Vries.
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Live. Love. Like Jesus. = No Racism.


Six words that reflect my heart and reflect my hope.
 
It is only as we live and love like Jesus that we can tear down the walls of division and recognize the dignity and identity of all people as made in the image of God.
 
As we journey yet again through the tension and unrest of Charlotte and Tulsa, as the pain of our separation and discord is repeated and reinforced, as our differences are magnified and healing becomes a greater fleeting possibility, our lament and prayers cry out to God for reconciliation and resolution.
 
If we live like Jesus, we will embrace all people. Our hearts will extend and embrace everyone. For Jesus, it was true of a Samaritan woman and Roman centurion; it included a zealot and tax collector, the sick, the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Living and loving like Jesus calls us to break down the walls that divide us.
 
It means seeing people as Jesus would – as created by God and for God. Our stereotyping, categorizing, and labeling have little place in relationships that are based on a gospel of love and grace, and that seek to love our world just as God so loved it.
 
If you were to pick six words that reflected your thoughts, observations, feelings, experiences, questions, laments, hopes regarding race, what would they be?
 
For me: Live. Love. Like Jesus. = No Racism.
 
I believe that if we would live and love like Jesus, the tensions, divisions, bigotry, and racism that exists around us would be alleviated. We would start to see people who could look beyond fear, hatred, and evil, and begin to see the image of God in each human being.
 
The Race Card Project (theracecardproject.com) was started by Michelle Norris, a journalist and author who shared her own story of her experience of race. Out of that experience grew this project.
 
Taking the power of six words, it begins to look into people hearts and shares honestly and candidly what the racial divide really reflects.
 
What would it look like if the Reformed Church in America began to share with each other around race – in six word statements?
 
What might happen if students at Western Theological Seminary and New Brunswick Theology seminary took time in chapel and wrote their six words on a card, shared their thoughts, and started the conversation? Tim Brown and Gregg Mast, I hope you can take the lead in this experience.
 
What might happen if students at Central College, Hope College, and Northwestern College devoted one of their chapels to having each student attending put their thoughts, feelings, or experiences in six words and sharing them in small groups? Mark Putnam, John Knapp, and Greg Christy, I hope you will also bring this conversation to your campuses.
 
What if a pastor on a Sunday morning included this in the worship service or sermon and gave you the opportunity to reflect and respond with your six words on race? RCA pastors and church leaders, I hope you will make space for an open and honest conversation about race in your church.
 
What if youth group leaders took a youth group meeting and had their students write their six words on a card and share them with each other and start the conversation? I hope that hundreds of youth groups in the RCA would take this challenge and begin to speak to each other in six words, and share those words by sending their cards to our RCA office where we can post them together on our race card wall.
 
What if small groups of RCA people in their small group gatherings would speak with their hearts in six words, write them on a card, and reveal them to each other? I hope RCA churches will begin to provide cards that can be used in small groups for sometimes difficult, sometimes discouraging, sometimes hopeful, and sometimes humorous reflections on race and relationships within the RCA.
 
To start it off, I would invite you to reply to me in six words with your own short essay on race. Just push reply to this email, and share your six-word response.
 
I would like to start a race card wall in our RCA offices. A place where the voices of our RCA family can speak and share – honestly and openly together. I will take your response, put it on a card and put it on the wall. I hope that we can also create a digital wall on the RCA website that will allow the conversation to go throughout the denomination and beyond.
 
My hope is that we can design these cards in the coming week and distribute them throughout the RCA, and have them returned; letting the conversation begin and helping us move toward greater healing and hope.
 
I think about what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:11 – a statement of grace and truth . . . read it from a number of different perspectives and translations:
For God treats everyone the same. (TLB)
 
For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with him one person is not more important than another]. (AMP)
 
God doesn’t have any favorites! (CEV)
 
For there is no respect of persons with God. (GNV)
It is only as we live and love like Jesus that we can tear down the walls of division and recognize the dignity and identity of all people as made in the image of God.
 
Live. Love. Like Jesus. = No Racism.
 
Six words that reflect my heart and reflect my hope.

Tom
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