Greetings, North American Division Family,*
It seems like we just entered year 2021. And just like that, it is February. With so much going on, time passes very quickly. February in the United States has been designated as Black History Month. We celebrate it every year with the intention of fostering a better understanding of African Americans and their history in this country. The celebration this year in 2021 has special meaning given the impact of COVID, the economic downturn, political turmoil, and the racial unrest in our country. In many ways, the divide seems to be getting even deeper. Perhaps it's just deep-seated issues (that have always existed but have been bubbling beneath the surface), that are just coming out to be seen by all. Black History Month is just that—it is the history of a people, my people, Black people, their journey, their struggles, their disappointments, their contributions, and their triumphs. It is history.
Typically, we use this month to hear tremendous, courageous stories of the past and honor those from the past—and that is significant, and valuable, and we need to keep doing it. But this year, I would challenge us to do something in addition to that: find someone to tell your story to—someone who is not like you. Perhaps ask someone who is not like you about their story. And listen, just listen. I mean really listen, and reflect. Allow it to marinate, and let the Holy Spirit impress your heart and mind from what you hear. Then maybe you can share your story, and each person can listen to the other without judgment, or condemnation. But just listen to each other.
I'm talking about just a simple one-on-one sharing. You don't need an audience. You don't need a program, just a simple one-on-one, human being to human being. One person made in the image of God, talking to another person made in the image of God, diverse and different, but both equal in the sight of God. Perhaps the reminder that we're all His children—red, brown, yellow, black and white—all precious in His sight, might bring about a commonality of our humanity, a brotherhood and a sisterhood that will give this world what is sorely needs: an example of the love of God that is lived out in your life and in mine.
May our prayer be this Black History Month: God, help us to see each other as [You] see us. In a world of strife and bitterness, may God help us to be His instruments of love. May our prayer be, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there's injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there was darkness, light. And where there is sadness, Lord, help me to spread joy.
May God help each of us to be that instrument of peace in our community, in our world, and in our church. And may we use this month to remind us that we are all God's children. Precious in His sight.
God bless you,
G. Alexander Bryant, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America
* For clarity, minor edits have been made to this transcript.