Walking in Reconciliation
After the time of reconciliation– what next? Actually, relationship building is part of reconciliation. Almost everything in life flows from relationship, whether it be between God and man, or man to man. Reconciliation involves restoring relationships and building new ones that should have been there before. When we get things right with God, then we can walk in right relationship with our fellow man. We will be able to “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love , eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4: 1-3).
We need to build bridges with those from whom we have been estranged. This calls for intentionality! It doesn’t happen naturally, at least at first, and we might even find opposition to it. When we approach others to understand them better, spend time listening to their stories, and look for the gifts God has placed within them, we build relationship with them.
Joint projects are a wonderful way to build bridges with others. Working alongside each other on a mission from God keeps the focus on Him; the outflow is a new kind of unity with each other! “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (I Peter 3: 8). “As each of you has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (I Peter 4:10).
“Redemptive acts” are physical actions that are part of making amends for a sin from the past—perhaps a symbol of the repentance that has taken place or a deliberate action done “in the opposite” spirit to the wrongful former situation. There is healing in redemptive acts, usually for the public to see. They carry the message, “We are sorry for what we did and we want to demonstrate that to you.”
As it is with the African Slave Trade, educating people about past history can be a major force in changing people’s current mindsets and also a deterrent to other similar events happening again. From public speaking, school curriculum, museums, re-enactments, to the arts, communities have begun a wide range of ways to creatively remind people of the horrors and injustices of the slave trade.
Reclaiming Black History
Our history books don’t give much mention to noteworthy actions by African Americans from Colonial days on. Yet the landscape of our American history is full of significant achievements, heroic deeds and foundation-building contributions to the society we all enjoy today. A few books have been written on this topic, some speeches have been made, but that history still seems to be side-lined.