By President Mark Maxwell
A little over a week ago, the face of racism became painfully present for all of us with the publicly recorded murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. To quote Bruxy Cavey, that horrible event showed “evil in slow motion.”
Rightly, we were all horrified at the event, and we were astounded at the ability we have, as human beings, to treat one another badly. Rightly, many people have spoken out against this injustice.
Not wanting to repeat what has already been well-said by various people around the continent, and the world, I have been pondering what we could add, or should add, to the conversation.
Human rights and social justice matter deeply to me personally, to us as a community at Prairie College, and to our alumni. In fact, many of our alumni are serving around the world in challenging places where underprivileged and oppressed people struggle to survive.
Last week I spoke to Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko, Global Director of SIM International and member of the Prairie College Board of Directors. Dr. Bogunjoko has a unique experience as Christian Nigerian currently living in South Carolina. His experience has taken him across multiple continents and oceans, and he was gracious to allow us some of his perspective as we’ve grappled with how we can do better as a college.
Dr. Bogunjoko encouraged all of us, as human beings, to walk in one another’s shoes. And then going further, to live in mutuality… learning to listen well to one another, and learning to honour one another for the gifts each person brings with them.
- The experience and impact of racism in Joshua’s family
- Joshua’s perspective on one of the ways we can confront racism as the church
- How we can miss our own prejudices, until we’re under pressure
- Why Joshua believes God sent Jesus as an infant and not an adult
We Will Not Stand By
We firmly believe, as members of the human race, that it is our duty – or rather, our privilege -as fellow human beings to speak up for and defend the rights of any people who are faced with injustice, especially systemic, ethnically-based injustice.
We believe that this is a God-inspired value that is embedded in the belief that all people are made in the image of the Creator. We believe that humanity was the crowning work of creation and to treat any human unjustly or without respect is to treat the Creator, the Almighty, with the same disdain.
Nelson Mandela, the great South African voice for black people, who spent 27 years in prison, 18 of which doing hard labour on the notorious and brutal Robben Island for the crime of “leading while black,” survived to become that great country’s President! As he was released and apartheid was crumbling in 1990, he set his agenda toward honouring all the people of South Africa, not to favour one race nor to destroy the other. Mandela was for freedom, peace, and harmony for all people. He honoured all people, and is remembered as one of the world’s greatest leaders.
So we must be today. Let us decide now, in the safety of our homes, that we will not stand by when injustice is present. Let us decide now to take the side of the one who needs a voice and who needs protection, who deserves to be heard and honoured.
To the great global community of black brothers and sisters we want to say:
- We are so sorry for what you have suffered over many centuries, so sorry.
- We mourn with you the loss of your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands.
- We hear you and agree, the time has come for this to stop.
- We honour you among us and stand with you, as fellow human beings, for the freedom, peace and harmony of all people.
May we be found guilty of thinking too highly of our multi-cultural neighbours… we believe they will live up to our expectations, and perhaps put us to shame.
In the words of Dr. Bogunjoko, let’s continue to push for true Christianity – for the values of that Kingdom and the character of the King.
About Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko
Joshua’s life in Christ began during high school. He surrendered to the Lord’s direction to study medicine, graduated and completed his residency in family medicine at a mission hospital in Jos, Nigeria. He later served at the SIM Hospital in Galmi, Niger, with his wife, Dr. Joanna Bogunjoko, eventually becoming both the Chief Medical Officer and hospital director.
Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has now served as SIM International Director since June 2013, becoming the first non-Western and first African leader of SIM.
Read more about Joshua, SIM International and its work in over 70 countries.
Other Resources to Consider
Reading ‘Reading While Black’ While White by Dr. Carmen Joy Imes
Pray Your Rage – Recovering the Lost Art of Lament and Imprecation by Jason Gaboury
Race, Gospel, and Justice: An Interview with Esau McCaulley, Part 1 by Christianity Today