On Aug. 25, 1619, the first slave ships docked at Jamestown, Virginia. Four hundred years later, Christian leaders are discussing and repenting of the church's role in the sins of racism—as well as seeking unity and reconciliation during a divisive time in the U.S.
Josh Clemons, co-director of the OneRace Movement, spoke to the Charisma News Podcast about why it's important for believers to take the lead on racial justice—even if they are not personally responsible for the racism of past generations.
"[There's] a sentiment that's very present," Clemons says. "This idea that 'I didn't own slaves, so why engage in this conversation? I'm not a racist. Why is this important to me? Why is this significant?' Our response has been to believers that it's a collective responsibility [of] believers to own this evil, regardless of whether you played an active role in it or not. We don't find in the prophets—ever—that any one person is excluded from the time of lamentation, from the time of repentance, or from the seasons of contrition. You never find it. You don't find it in Amos. You don't find it in Joel. You don't find it in Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc. You'll never find it.
"It's a collective responsibility. And that's something that's antithetical and countercultural in the world that we live in today, because we like to think of ourselves as individuals and never as the collective unit or collective people. So it's taken a little reorienting and emphasizing of our collective existence—that we are not individual believers, but we are the church, and as the church, we're owning this before the Lord."
Christians nationwide are invited to come to Atlanta from Aug. 2-3 to commemorate the dark anniversary of slavery's introduction to America at OneRace's 400Conference. After that, believers are invited to participate in 21 days of fasting and prayer, leading up to a Day of Remembrance on Aug. 25.
Clemons—who is also an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts University and previously served at Christ for All Nations—says fasting and prayer are crucial weapons for fighting the spiritual principalities behind America's racial divide. He compares it to Jesus' Parable of the Persistent Widow.
"When we see evil in the church, we should immediately go to the King, go to the Father, go to the one that's able to grant us justice," Clemons says. "Because, one, He desires to. And two, He wants justice and acts it on behalf of His people. And so when we partner with heaven, we essentially give an invitation to the Father to come and intervene. So we see the role of fasting and the role of prayer in this work of justice and racial reconciliation as an invitation for the Father to come and get involved here. There's a great evil. It's perpetrated throughout America. It's present on Sunday mornings. ... So we call the church to fasting and prayer. We want to be a united body."
Listen to the full interview with Clemons here.
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