George Floyd was my neighbor.
No, he didn't live next door to me, but Minneapolis is my home and it was his home too — until he died this week at the hands of police officers who seemed more intent on displaying their power than on following their code to protect and serve.
Don't hear me wrong. I pray for and want to support any man or woman who puts on a uniform and places themselves in harm's way. But with great power, comes great responsibility. Mr. Floyd is now dead because of an egregious act of injustice.
Now our city is hurting after this miscarriage of justice, and many are taking their anger to the streets in ways that are destructive and causing further harm. Yet for those of us who are witnessing what is taking place in the streets of Minneapolis and feel an urge to immediately condemn the people who are expressing their anger and hurt, we should remember what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said on March 14, 1968: "A riot is the language of the unheard."
Our hearts should break for those who are afraid, for those who have been discriminated against and marginalized for far too long. If anything, this is a moment for all of us to empathize with the hurt of our fellow Americans of color.
As a white man, I will never understand what it is like to be followed in a store, abused, harassed, or afraid of my loved ones being mistreated because of the color of their skin. But that doesn't mean I can't speak up, pray, lend a hand, and do whatever I can to work toward justice, unity, equity, and peace.
For all my friends who live outside of Minneapolis, unsure of how to respond, here are three action steps I would encourage:
1. Pray and Repent
The first prayer I encourage you to say is the hardest and requires raw honesty from your part: Pray for God to reveal racism in you and repent. Plainly and simply put, racism is sin. Every human being is created in God's image, and if we don't see our neighbors in that light, we need to check our hearts and repent.
Pray for the men, women, and children who are afraid for their lives because of the color of their skin. Mourn with those who mourn.
And pray for our mayor, governor, police officers, first responders, and elected officials. Pray for the safety of those protesting. Pray that the church of the Twin Cities will rise up and lead in this time. I long to see our staff, stages, and budgets built-in ways that demonstrate our belief that all people have value.
2. Learn About the Pain of Others
We shouldn't still have to talk about racism, discrimination, and the profiling of our brothers and sisters of color in 2020. But the facts do not lie and it's our responsibility to bring change. We need to educate ourselves, to humble ourselves to learn from and about another person's experience.
I encourage you to pick up a book, listen to a podcast, or talk with someone who knows about the history of racism, privilege, and discrimination in America. Seek relationships with those who are different from you and learn how to love your neighbor.
3. Support Causes That Promote Reconciliation and Unity
A great Minneapolis effort to help the urban church is called the One Fund. I also support a mentorship and training organization for black young men in Minneapolis called The Man Up Club, which is led by my friend Korey "XROSS" Dean. Nationally, I love the work of the AND Campaign, and my friend Justin E. Giboney. There are countless groups you can learn from and support. ⠀
To all of my friends who are afraid and angry, I am sorry. I am praying for justice. More than that, I am praying for the family of George Floyd. May the Twin Cities and our nation be brought together during this time, rather than torn further apart. May we repent of our sin and learn to love one another.
Nick Hall is the visionary of the Together movement, the Year of the Bible campaign, and Pulse, a ministry at the center of the largest millennial-led prayer and outreach efforts in the world. He is the president and CEO of The Table Coalition and sits on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.