Note: I wrote these words January 21, 2019, for a special event at my job January 24, 2019, that honored the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During the event, I spoke these words to 450+ colleagues, sharing ways that I see our organization reflect Dr. King’s dream for change today.
As I walked down a short flight of steps in The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the lights around me shifted from a crisp fluorescent to a subtle, light glow. It looked like I’d accidentally entered the back end of an exhibit.
Music and voices bellowed softly in the room, full of blown up images from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life – and his final days.
I stood for a moment.
I wanted to take in what I was hearing and also seeing as I watched others process this experience.
It felt like a very sacred space. These were moments in time that stayed constant in their motion to honor a very special individual.
A man who gave much for the cause of Freedom, Oneness, and Diversity.
Dr. King was 39 years old when he left this earth. His life and legacy speak of the intention that he moved from. Considering his age and all that he accomplished through those 39 years makes me consider my own life.
I’m 39 years old and the more I live, the more I understand how critical it is to live with INTENTION.
Dr. King lived his life this way. Even when it was uncomfortable. Even when it challenged him deeply. And especially when it meant fighting for necessary change over lukewarm complacency.
You see, our choices make us who we are.
And we need those choices coupled with our intention because inward decisions lead to outward actions that have the power to change the world.
Dr. King changed the world because of his decisions and we’re here today to honor his incredible life and legacy.
As I reflect on Cru and how this ministry continues to grow as a community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ, I see the power of intention at work in several places. One specific one is through The Lenses Institute.
Lenses is an initiative of Cru that exists to help the people of God fight for Oneness by influencing the way Christian leaders see, understand, and act in our ethnically and culturally diverse world.
We hold several institutes around the nation in cities that include Los Angeles, Orlando, New York City, Phoenix, Lexington, Atlanta, and Raleigh.
As a facilitator and cultural consultant with Lenses, I’m honored to witness many in our ministry be changed by this experience.
Thousands have stepped into this five-day intensive that helps people understand cultural awareness and cultural identity. This happens as they examine their own individual journeys and also enter into the experiences of others from different ethnicities.
Awareness and identity in the area of culture powerfully shape who we are as believers in the Church and beyond the church’s four walls.
In those five days through Lenses, I get to witness people in our ministry willingly step into deep waters that include uncomfortable places and even difficult emotions, as conversations around race, power, and the gospel emerge.
These are people like you. People like me. People who lean into this opportunity to grow personally as they discover more of God’s heart for His kingdom.
People who begin to see God’s hand at work in the weaving together of their stories and the gift of their ethnicities to display the gospel brightly in this world.
People who are willing to enter conversations that help them understand the experiences, pains, and joys of their brothers and their sisters.
These conversations develop empathy, which gives birth to compassion that deepens emotional intelligence and relational trust – two gems that can help the road toward Oneness be paved just a little bit more smoothly.
In John 17 verses 17 through 21, Jesus prayed for Oneness for His disciples and for those who would later come to faith as a result of the gospel being spread. He prayed for us:
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
In Oneness as the Body of Christ, we can demonstrate to the world that God the Father sent His only Son.
The unity of the Household of Faith displayed through men and women, from different ethnicities, cultures, generations, economic backgrounds and more has the power to change this world by showing the world such Oneness – in itself – is from God.
And He loves the world so much that He sent Jesus to the world to save it.
Dr. King understood the power of Oneness. It pushed him forward to walk with God in faith and invest his life with intention so that the lives of others would be changed.
Through The Lenses Institute, I see how our ministry reflects Dr. King’s dream for a better world.
A world where people could be respected as the image bearers God created them to be. A world full of promise and brimming with possibilities.
Last night, I read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and this quote by him grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go:
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.