Last week, I asked a question to my readers. I asked if anyone would be willing to give me some helpful steps to take as a white Christian male who wants to stand up against racism.

Unfortunately, very few answers were offered (I had provided my email address), and only one reply contained actual things to do in fighting racial injustice. I did, however, have the fortune of attending a pastor and church leader’s forum on race Monday night, during which a group of about 20 shared experiences and frustrations, and asked questions in achieving the common goal of racial reconciliation. Most acknowledged that Jesus is the answer to the problem of racism.

And I finally got an answer to my question.

After sharing a couple thoughts similar to the ones that I shared in the paper last week, I asked again, “What can I do to help fight against racism other than keep speaking?”

The answer came from one of the meeting’s cohosts, a black woman who bared her heart for us concerning racism in the Valley during the meeting. Her answer was simple. She reminded me that we are not all called to take the same steps, but we should recognize the steps that God is leading us to. If that means keep speaking, then keep speaking. If that means to protest, then protest. She was telling me the exact thing I tell my congregation about the spiritual gifts they are given by God — we should recognize the gifts he gives and then live them out, without focusing on the gifts that we haven’t been given.

For me, in the context of addressing racial issues, I need to recognize that God’s given me the ability to speak as well as several platforms from which I can be heard. This doesn’t mean I will never do other things, but it does mean that most of what I do will likely involve verbal preaching and teaching, Facebook posts, Internet radio shows and newspaper articles. Instead of seeing that gift as not enough, I need to embrace it, live it and endeavor to use it. I am thankful for those words of encouragement that God gave me through a sister in Christ whom I just met.

But now I have another question — How do I make people listen?

Even though my sister told me Monday night to keep on talking, I have had more than one person tell me that as a white person I need to shut my mouth and stop talking on things I know nothing about. I’ve had others tell me that as long as I insist on bringing Jesus into the conversation, my words carry no weight. I’ve even had folks tell me that I need to stick to preaching the gospel and leave social justice issues alone, as if the gospel doesn’t have plenty to say to the social justice issues of our day. So, with all those voices telling me to just be quiet, how do I make people listen?

Actually, this week I am able to answer my own question.

How do I make people listen? Well, making people listen isn’t really my job. My job is to speak. Some will listen and consider my words; others won’t. That’s up to them, not up to me. Some will say I have no voice in this as a white man, but I’ll say I am commanded as a preacher of the gospel to cry out against sin, and racism is a sin — I don’t have to have a certain skin tone to say that. Some will say I should hush up about Jesus, but I’ll say that without Jesus there can be no heart change, and a heart change is the only hope to see people of all races living in harmony.

Some will say I should stick to the gospel, but I’ll say again that the gospel is the answer to every social justice problem we face, so if I preach the gospel, issues of social justice will inevitably come up. If you haven’t heard me say it before, please listen as I say it again — racism is a sin. God hates it. The Holy Spirit exposes it. Jesus died for it, so that man is able to repent of it.

I am still open to more suggestions on what I am to be doing, but for now I will keep on speaking, trusting that as I speak, some will listen.

Mark Wingfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grottoes, is a columnist for The News Virginian. His column is published Sundays.

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