We invited our dear brother and fellow WCFS homeschool father, Virgil Jones, to comment on the unrest in America as he sees it from a foreign land. Virgil and Toni have been in ministry since 2006. Having spent the first half of their marriage in Georgia and Maryland respectfully, they have served on the mission field in Lachute, Quebec for the last 14 years. They are veteran homeschoolers and have been enrolled with WCFS since 2007. They have six children and five grandchildren. Virgil pastors a multi-cultural, French church in Quebec, Canada and offers helpful perspective as a black pastor, a foreign missionary, an American citizen, a husband and father, and most importantly, as a brother in Christ. Here is his encouraging commentary:
"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)."
What a beautiful statement inspired by the Holy Spirit. What a clear statement inspired by the Holy Spirit. If only we lived in the light of their beauty and clarity.
Although we live in Quebec, far removed from the troubles engulfing our country, we see and we hear. On the one hand, we see the horror of a human life slowly and mercilessly snuffed out. On the other hand, we see the face of this man, George Floyd, printed and painted on signs, shirts and buildings as a martyr and hero as if he had done nothing to end up in a confrontation with the police in the first place. We see all races coming together to protest the unjust treatment of African Americans for over 400 years, but this is marred by the senseless rioting, destruction, and looting which does nothing to advance the cause, and actually hurts it.
We see the negative attitude towards law enforcement and the calls to defund the police, but we also hear first-hand reports from our son, a DC fireman and first responder, of the good men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect ordinary citizens. We see the liberal news media not merely reporting but also shaping the narrative for their own purposes. And we see the conservative media doing the same. The worst thing we see is brothers and sisters in Christ siding with political or tribal affinities rather than with Christ as they debate on social media – in the court of public opinion – forgetting that it is together that we “the saints will judge the world.” (1 Corinthians 6:2) We see these things.
But we also see something else. We see something else because our families have experienced something else. While in Christ there is equality amongst all, real life experiences can differ vastly. We’ve seen the hurt on family members’ faces when they recall things in the past, like when my father-in-law described how as a boy he watched his father beg his white boss for his paycheck. We’ve heard my father tell of how, when as a young medical student on his way home for the Christmas holiday, he was involved in a near fatal car accident. He almost died because the ambulance drivers didn’t want to take him to the nearest hospital because it was for whites only. Although these events happened decades ago, current events trigger memories and emotions whether fear, sadness, anger or hurt. People who have suffered see themselves suffocating under “the knee.”
But it’s not just stories of days gone by. A few years ago in the wake of a police shooting of a young black man one of my father-in-law’s colleagues remarked loudly in his presence that “all them n***** should be killed”—and not a single one of his other colleagues reproved this coworker (not even the retired police officers in the group). This hurts.
How many of our Christian brothers and sisters have told their son not to leave the campus of a southern school with a white girl in the car out of concern for their son’s safety? How many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have sons who have been stopped by police over a dozen times in a couple months for no reason at all? Or how many of our Christian brothers and sisters would “trespass” and think nothing of it, whereas we have lived our entire lives knowing that we do not have the same luxury? This is just a fraction of the ways in which our experiences differ.
Accordingly, I think that as believers a decisive nod should be given to the narrative of those who have suffered as we seek to understand the unrest that is currently taking place. Paul tells us that if “one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We should also recognize a compounding issue as well: throughout our nation’s history the church has not been the beacon of light that we should have been. How else can we honestly explain how 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning may well be the most segregated hour of the week? In light of Scripture and in light of our history, I believe that a healthy dose of empathy is in order, especially during this time of cultural discord.
If you live outside of a major metropolitan area, chances are that you are probably removed from the day-to-day challenges that our country is currently grappling with. However, as believers, I urge us all to monitor our thoughts and hearts with respect to what is taking place in our country. What posts on social media do we tend to agree with? Do we have friends or family who make comments that are insensitive that we could lovingly correct? Do conversations around the dinner table reflect our new nature in Christ or are they more in keeping with various “tribal thoughts”?
While these are trying times, it’s my opinion that as believers we are only at the beginning of challenging days in our country. May we give the enemy no ground for reproach with respect to our love and empathy for one another and may the bonds of Christ prove stronger than any other bond.