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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
February 27, 2012
The Journey to Racial Reconciliation Is Not Over
On August 28, 1963, one of the most important speeches was ever made in the history of the United States.
Martin Luther King Jr., a pastor and civil rights leader, delivered the world-famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial steps to over 200,000 civil rights supporters.
In this speech Martin Luther King Jr. called for an end to discrimination and racial injustice in our nation, our systems, our communities, and in our own personal lives. But what is even more remarkable is that Dr. King paints a picture of something greater than racial equality:
He paints a picture of racial reconciliation.
Dr. King dared to give our nation a glimpse of a God-given dream, a dream of racial reconciliation, justice, and healing that may have even sounded foolish or impossible to those who were listening that August day:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out
the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of
former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit
down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state
sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of
oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.”
While I am honored and proud to work for InterVarsity, which holds racial reconciliation and justice as part of our Core Values, our organization recognizes that the journey towards racial reconciliation is not over.
At the beginning of fall semester, one of my white staff partners and one of our InterVarsity students (who was also white) were sitting at our InterVarsity table with flyers, interest cards and information about InterVarsity, when a black female student approached our table.
After a short introduction, this black woman asked my staff partner:
“Are there any black students in your fellowship?”
My staff partner’s heart dropped. With a fellowship of 120 students, but only one black student currently involved, my staff partner realized that what she was about to tell this black student would not be good news.
After answering her question, this black student thanked my staff partner and continued on to the next organization’s table.
When we as InterVarsity staff members look at our fellowship, we are trained to ask ourselves: Who is missing from our fellowship? Which students are not represented? Why is that? What roadblocks are preventing these students from joining our fellowships or feeling welcome?
Whether these roadblocks are few or many, we as InterVarsity chapters and as part of the Church must continue asking these questions if we want to see this next generation of students be developed as leaders of racial reconciliation.
If every InterVarsity chapter and church were actively engaging in cross-cultural friendships, asking good questions regarding culture and worship, and were also open to God molding and shaping our communities to look different than they do today, then we might begin to reflect the community of believers found in God’s heavenly kingdom:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)
Amy Hauptman is an InterVarsity Campus Leader at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, NV, and a part-time Campus Staff Member at the University of Nevada, Reno. She has a heart for the ‘towns’ and ‘villages’ of college ministry (the junior and community colleges), and is driven to see, learn, and enjoy as much as possible.