Have you ever been “over the moon” about something? If my daughters heard me use that expression, they would probably inform me that no one says that anymore! I just couldn’t think of another expression that adequately describes my excitement and enthusiasm for a calling God has placed on my heart.
It is no secret that I have been burdened by the racial unrest in our country. I have found myself wondering what I could do to be part of the solution. I want to do my part and have begun by ordering and reading some new books, posting on social media, watching videos, and listening to and dialoguing with friends of color. While this is a start, my actions seem insignificant in the wake of such a deeply rooted societal problem.
God and I have had some long conversations of recent. He knows my heart, my frustrations, and my desire to do something, anything that can begin to change the narrative of racism in this country. He knows I feel a bit helpless. I do not hold a position of authority. I am not a person of influence, and I have little opportunity to really interact with anyone these days! I’m sure some of you may feel the same way.
Despite my frustrations, God has gently reminded me of a couple of things. First, it really isn’t about what I can do but what He can do through me. In fact, my weakness is actually a gift, for when I am weak, He is strong! (2 Corinthians 12:10) Second, God can accomplish great things when we are obedient to the call He has placed on our hearts. He always equips those He calls (Philippians 1:6).
I have learned over the years that nothing happens by accident. We are all here in this place and time for a reason. Sometimes we understand our circumstances, and sometimes we don’t. However, God can use any situation for His kingdom purposes. We just have to trust Him and faithfully obey one step at a time. As I prayed, I asked God to show me what I could do with what little I had. The idea of partnerships began to emerge. I ran the idea by several members of the Victorious Educators Ministry (VEM) Facebook group, and all were excited about the concept. I truly sense God is at work here. This is why I am “over the moon!”
Let me introduce you to Purposeful Partnerships! I believe Victorious Educator Ministries (VEM) can serve as a vehicle to partner Christian educators of different ethnic backgrounds for the purpose of building relationships and creating learning environments free from bias and inequality. Think about it. As Christian educators, we are shaping the minds and hearts of young people every day. We have a unique opportunity to increase understanding, break down racial barriers, and combat all forms of prejudice.
If you are white, like me, you may not know where to start. Your heart is in the right place, you want to join the fight against racism, but your experience and knowledge base is so limited. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. If you are a person of color, your heart is also in the right place, you may want to share your experiences and help us understand, but you struggle with finding an opportunity in the right venue. The bottom line is that every child and adult in our learning organizations (and our world) deserves to be loved, valued, and accepted; however, many are unknowingly and inadvertently reinforcing prejudice or bias. How can we begin to turn the tide?
If we truly desire to be part of the solution, we have to start where we are. Why not begin by building relationships with those who are different from us? Change happens one person at a time, one conversation at a time, one friendship at a time. It is really difficult to understand and empathize with those you do not know or with whom you do not interact. I realize this may cause us to step out of our comfort zones, but as educators, we know a place of discomfort yields growth. We don’t want to let fear prevent us from becoming all God has called us to be. I not only see these partnerships as an opportunity to address racism but also a way to help us grow in our spiritual walk with the Lord. There is nothing more special than a Christian friend.
While God is still working out the details, let me briefly outline the current vision for this new division of VEM—
· All participants would complete a survey.
· Christian educators from differing ethnic backgrounds would be partnered based on survey information. Every attempt would be made to partner educators with similar teaching experiences. Males will be paired with males and females with females.
· Partners will be assigned and given each other’s contact information as reported on the survey.
· Partners will be provided a handbook which outlines the agreements and discussion questions for the first five sessions.
· Additional resource recommendations will be provided for partners to use once the first five sessions have been completed.
Here are some of the potential agreements for the partnerships.
· Commit this partnership to the Lord. Pray for His blessing and guidance for the relationship.
· Have an open mind and heart. Listen and seek to understand. Ask questions.
· Let go of defensiveness.
· Be honest while maintaining a posture of kindness.
· Practice humility.
· Provide assistance when requested.
· Give encouragement.
· Seek answers in God’s Word.
· Support each other through prayer.
· Connect regularly. We are recommending meeting virtually at least two times a month.
· Follow the discussion guides.
I truly believe we have come to a crossroads. We can choose to “weather this storm” only to deal with a potential tornado in the future, or we can choose to change the scenario one person, one relationship, one classroom at a time. There is no doubt this will take time, but we have to start. Through these partnerships, we will learn and grow together. As a result, we will not only be better for those around us, we will be better for ourselves, and we will be part of making the future brighter for the next generation.
We all know deep down that the issue of racism is a heart issue. So many hearts are hurting, and we desperately need healing. Our ultimate goal as believers is to point others to Jesus. He is really the only solution. What a witness it would be if Christian educators all over this country forged cross-ethnic friendships for the purpose of combating the prejudices and biases that exist in our country! I am trusting God for great things!
Please prayerfully consider being a purposeful partner. Together we can show the world what it means to love like Jesus.
Information about the survey and being a partner will be posted on the VEM website, Facebook page, and Facebook group soon! Our goal is to start forming partnerships by the beginning of the next school year. Please share this with others. What a privilege it is to be part of God’s work!
If you have specific feedback regarding Purposeful Partnerships, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments will be taken seriously.