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Become the Catalyst for Change, Reconciliation, and Hope

Bishop Harry Jackson discusses racial reconciliation and reaching the world with healing and hope for the future. Read Transcript


Well, it's no secret that the United States of America

is a nation divided.

Over the last few years riots in Ferguson, Oakland, Baltimore,

and other cities have made national news.

And so Bishop Harry Jackson says it's past time for the church

to step up.

NARRATOR: As racial tension increases in the US,

many people wonder how we can close the racial divide

in our communities.

Bishop Harry Jackson says there is hope.

He gives lectures and hosts conferences

about racial reconciliation.

As senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Washington,

DC, he believes the church should

play a vital role in unifying people of all races.

Bishop Harry Jackson is here with us, and welcome back.

It's great to have you with us.

Good to be with you, Gordon.

You say that the racial divided America is actually

prophesied of in the Bible.

It really is.

If you look at Jesus' famous Matthew 24 passage,

he says, in the last days nation will rise again.

It's a nation.

The underlying Greek word, as you know,

is ethos or ethnicities.

So tribalism is hard wired.

Also if you look at the Bible, that initial division

that we find at the Tower of Babel where we all were one--

essentially, one race and all had one language.

And because they were moving in rebellion against God,

he said I'm going to break up the unity--

the false unity without God, and everybody

had their own language.

On the day of Pentecost, however Gordon,

they came together when they all spoke in tongues

as a [INAUDIBLE] utterance, and people heard men who they knew

had not learned these languages by natural means.

They realized God was unifying--

reunifying humankind under the auspices of Jesus Christ.

Well, how did the early church deal with it?

Because they did have it.

There was a Jewish, Gentile divide,

and then there were lots of other ethne--

HARRY JACKSON: Yes.

--involved.

How did they deal with it?

Well, in the writings of Paul, he

kept exhorting them to be one.

And he said there's neither Jew nor Greek, male or female.

And the idea really is whatever it

is that you're finding distinction,

in Christ, we are to come together, work together, love

one another, and together we're a corporate expression

of who Jesus is in the earth.

So Paul, actually, his church in Rome

was a guy who as a prisoner converted

his prison guards, and the church in Rome

had all kinds of people who were slaves teaching people that

were free.

So our history is we've eclipsed social barriers.

That's our history and our background.

If we can unify the church in America as a united force,

we can then bring healing to a very divided land.

Well, what you're saying actually

goes against either the current practice--

Yes.

-- or against even mystiology that the keys to church growth

are all about finding community of like-minded people,

and that usually means same race, same economic status,

and that's the key.

You want to surround-- you want to be surrounded by people

that look and act like you.

Yeah.

How do you break through that?

Well, I think that's where discipleship comes in.

I think what we've missed is that when

we talk about the kingdom to someone who gets born again--

and by the way, I prayed years ago

in a hotel room in Cleveland, Ohio,

with your father to receive Jesus--

so I think when people get saved,

though, they need to see the kind of modeling that was done

back there in The 700 Club.

Black and a white guy working together.

Multiple races coming together.

If we disciple people in that manner,

they won't think it's strange to have

friendships and affiliation.

So two sides of racism in America

is one is individual heart change,

so that I don't hate you, for example.

But then the structural problems in our culture,

which means if you've been to prison you don't get

a second chance at life, or if you

don't have very good reading skills, you can't get a job.

There are many things that we could do collaboratively,

collectively as the church to begin to bring forth

that healing process.

But I'm shouting to the nation, hey, everybody, we're one,

and we're the nation's answer.

Right.

Do we have to be intentional with it?

Yes.

More than just aspirational.

More than just say, OK, I see this in the Bible.

There was a unity there that transcended everything

and that spiritual unity.

Yes.

But how would you advise a pastor today.

If they wanted take their church down this road,

what do they need to do.

Well, on our web site we talk about bridges to peace.

So I'll just give you a couple of them.

Can't go into them all.

But I would say pick something you

want to do that has short term, intermediate, and long term

fruit to heal the structural problems of racism.

And let's work together in terms of having people

of many races worshipping together as much as you can

in your church or partnering with other churches.

That's where it starts.

But I think we've got to be practical

and three practical areas education reform--

folk who don't do well at the third grade

are reading, writing, and arithmetic,

they wind up in prison.

Another thing, you can't get a job.

My destiny is tied into what I do

for a living, my sense of purpose, my value.

So what kinds of things could you

do in your city to bring jobs, and then criminal justice

reform is something I'm really big on.

How can a church, if someone has a heart for helping people,

how can they select a couple of people

a year to help them return to their families,

be disciples in the word, get a good job,

stay the course in terms of being

there in their family and their community?

So that's a broad overview.

Well, I agree with you on all of them,

and, particularly, reforming the criminal justice system.

I think it's absolutely broken.

Yes.

And we're hearing, yet again, a call

let's get tough on crime, or let's get tough on sentencing.

But we're not realizing the overall social impact of that.

We really aren't.

This coming Tuesday there's going

to be a big meeting with Prison Fellowship.

You may know I'm on the board of Prison Fellowship.

Chuck Colson started the organization.

And we're going to have a justice declaration,

and it's simply what you're saying, church we recognize

that we have a dog in this fight,

meaning we want to show the mercy

and loving kindness of God and forgiveness

to people who have messed up.

And let's not just discard people.

Let's be the purveyors and extend a second chance

to people, and in some very tangible ways,

groups like the NAE, Prison Fellowship, the Colson Center,

and the Southern Baptist Convention Religion Ethnics

Groups are coming together just to blow one note and say,

let's think about the forgotten who have wound up in prison.

And let's evangelize them, let's disciple them,

let's bring them back into the fold of American destiny.

Well, can't we also focus on the legislation?

Because I think it needs to start there as well.

How do we-- we seem to be locking people

up at a record rate.

How can we say if it's a nonviolent offense, now what

do we do?

Is prison the right way?

Is there another way to go?

Well, there's a study that's just coming out--

we don't have time to go into it-- by George

Barna about our societal ideas.

Most people believe that if you go to prison that you

become a better criminal.

The average person has gotten that far in their thinking

that there may be another way.

But I believe that certain groups like Prison Fellowship

are doing great advance work, but you're right.

I think we're going to have to as Christians put

these things on the ballots and look at these kinds of reforms.

Remember, take away the box.

The idea of checking the box if you ever been in prison,

if you're looking for a place to stay

or a house or apartment, those specific things

will require legislation.

And all across America, it is not uniform.

In DC, you will have half way housing opportunities

where you can get your life, get a little bit of money,

retrain yourself, and then go back to world.

There are some states where you just get sent out,

you get a little check, and you're on your own back

to where you came from.

So I think you're right.

I think we have to get the message we're the change

agents, and then we need to do some specific things.

And they could come to us at our website.

We'll have some specifics.

But also great groups like Prison Fellowship

are doing amazing things, but guess what?

This will not surprise you.

Until there's a demand made under political, which

may be your point now the church says, hey,

we're going to vote you out of office at a local

to the presidential level.

If you don't do something about it, it's not going to change.

So now's is the time to change.

It's urgent.

Democrats and Republicans both see a need.

The problem is not that people are blowing

the trumpet from the pew-- or I should

say from the polling booth.

And from the pulpit.

Yeah, and from the pulpit.

Yeah, let's blow the show far on this one,

and let's get together.

All right, well let's do that.

Wonderful.

I'll be glad to work with you.

Thank you so much.

All right, well thank you for being with us.

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