Dominican Republic. We were able to go on an adventure-themed excursion where we climbed
a mountain (it was a long trail; I am not a mountain woman!) and then jumped off various rock
points into the flowing river. It was thrilling, gorgeous, and terrifying. One by one, we would
line up in the group and when ready we would jump into the water. The guides made it look
easy. They had been jumping into those waters for years! As I approached the edge of the first
rockface, I realized, I was not ready! Everyone was encouraging, both behind me and those who
had already jumped into the crystal-clear water below. I kept asking for more time. “Can I get a
second? Ok, let me count... No, I’m not ready! Is there another way down?” The self-talk, while
looking back, is actually pretty funny. In order to jump off that cliff, I needed both my own
encouragement, and the backing of these near strangers to tip me from fear to bravery. If I was
alone, I can promise that I would never have jumped.
During this season, the nation, and even other parts of the world, has reawakened to
the need for more work in the area of racial restoration. There are many areas in our nation
that need to be addressed to treat people with justice and love. I am so encouraged by the
work of many to identify and rectify their own implicit biases. I, too, am looking at my own
language and source of certain fears to make sure they are appropriately placed. Jumping into
this work takes a lot of bravery and emotional effort.
In the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:7 guides how we take care of each other. It teaches
us that “[love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” There are
several other verses to look at during this season when asking HOW do we grow and process
together, but for the sake of brevity, we will just look at this verse. As people, who live with
faith in Jesus and love for people, we are instructed to protect, trust, hope and persevere. As
we champion continued restoration, we love each other enough to protect them, trust them,
hope for them, and persevere for them.
- Protect- Do we engage in conversations that ultimately grow division between groups of people? Or do we decide to elevate our speech and actions?
- Trust- Do we trust that people who have not spoken up might deserve a conversation before negative thoughts are assumed about them? Do we trust that people who look or sound different than ourselves are children of God, deserving of utmost dignity?
- Hope- Do we have a vision of what restoration would look like in our own lives? In our schools? In our justice system?
- Perseverance- Can we keep running the race towards Jesus’ kingdom here on Earth?
change for the next generation?
While on that rock jumping adventure, once I jumped the first rock, and swam to the next
enclave, that same fear returned. But because of my survival of the first jump and the
continued support of the people around me, I was able to make it down the mountain. Jumping into the area of racial restoration will require your bravery, your work, and the love of people
I am praying that we keep loving each other through it all. If we lose the tone of love, we
may not have the courage to make a second jump.
Candace Cortez • Executive Pastor