“How will you know when the work of Be the Bridge is working at our church? I don’t think we have an issue they mentioned.”
This is a question Lauren, a Black woman on staff at a predominately White church, was asked by a member of her church. The person didn’t see the ways in which people of color were needing to assimilate into the White culture of the church, the ways they felt unseen and unheard.
In 2016, a group of just 4 women tried out the Be the Bridge curriculum to see if it would work for their church. In 2017, they were able to present what the group had been doing at the church’s women’s conference. From there a new co-ed group started from interested church members, led by those who had already gone through the curriculum once.
This fall the effects of what started as a small group were felt. “My friends, one of our pastors preached on racial reconciliation and mentioned our Be the Bridge group and why it’s one of his favorite ministries. I was overwhelmed with JOY! I felt so proud! I wanted to scream out loud… This is it, this is it!!!! Y’all better be paying attention, turn his mic up!”
In fact, it was so impactful that she came to every service. “I couldn’t believe it. Not only was this the first time in 30 years of the ministry’s existence that a message of racial reconciliation was preached from up front, but it was with solid detailed Word and teaching. No fluff. As I looked around the sanctuary it didn’t look the same as it did when I first started to attend 6 years ago. We have changed a bit. I cried and praised the Lord because I know that the message being preached made another person of color feel visible and important!”
Being part of a Be the Bridge group isn’t easy. Reconciliation costs, sometimes mightily. Lauren’s group has felt that and as she says, “I felt so happy because I know the message encouraged the men and women in our BTB group as well; I know they were blessed. I’m honored by their boldness and sacrifice. Yes, this year has been challenging… BUT we are called, we are chosen for this work. God knows each and everyone of us, He knows we will stand and we will be the “salt and light” of the world! He knows! It’s not an accident that we answered the call.”
So what encouragement does Lauren have for those engaged in this work?
Two things that I have learned to do on this journey: self care and keep a list of what I call “door swings”. Often times we are pushing the doors open, but there’s no give back. Concentrating on the negative is exhausting. So my celebration list of door swings encourages me and reminds me that my labor isn’t in vain, and it keeps my heart and mind on Jesus.
So to answer the question “how will I know when the ministry of BTB is working?”
Recently I had a conversation with our Elders and at the close of our meeting I shared my celebrations with them. I was proud to say I had 20 door swings this year (including the Pastors message).
Carrying this song into 2018:
“I am on the battlefield for my Lord,
I’m on the battlefield for my Lord;
And I promised Him that I would serve Him till I die.
I am on the battlefield for my Lord.”
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31
What a beautifully written message! I am proud to be a member of the church Lauren speaks of, and though I have seen the struggles and the “two steps forward – three steps back” in the process, I know this church of true Christ-followers is moving forward in racial reconciliation. I am grateful to people like Lauren and the other Be The Bridge leaders who have devoted so much prayer and effort to this meaningful, much-needed ministry. I believe that God is on the move in our church and our country through Be The Bridge.