“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8
I had one of those nights. I awoke at 2:00 hearing that little buzz my phone makes when a message comes in. I reached over to see what was up and found several messages from my good friend, Craig. After hearing several more of those buzzes and deciding 30 minutes later that I was not readily going back to sleep, I got out of bed, took my phone to the family room, read through Craig’s messages about the racial tension going on in our nation, and began to dialog with my good friend.
Craig and I began to develop a friendship some 10-15 years ago after meeting in a Sunday School class at church. We have enjoyed numerous breakfasts discussing a variety of topics while also visiting before or after Sunday School or crossing paths in the hallway. We enjoy each other and respect each other. We have much that we share in common: we love Jesus, we enjoy studying the Bible, we love our wife, we love our children. There are a few things we do not share in common. Craig is about 15 years younger than I, so I’m at a different stage in life than he is. And one other thing. I’m White, Craig is Black.
Because of this difference, Craig has a very different gut response than I do to the current racial tension that we are experiencing in this country. Not that I am immune to injustice! But I don’t come at this with the same background that Craig does. Craig grew up in Indiana and experienced racism regularly as a boy and young man. He admits a wildness in his past that placed him in a variety of situations with the authorities and not all of those encounters went well. I do want to be clear that Craig knows how blessed he is today. He is a well-regarded engineer with an international oil services company and serving in a key strategy group. Craig’s wife is a CPA/MBA working for one of Houston’s well-know hospital groups. A successful upper-middle class family living in Houston’s suburbs.
Current events have caused the hurts of the past to well up inside Craig, and the issue of racial tension and injustice were the topic of our text conversation between 2 and 4AM this morning. Craig wrote: “My heart bleeds for my black brothers and sisters going through it.” Craig and I both had to admit that we don’t have the answers to this national dilemma. However, I have a few thoughts that I believe are relevant both to this national issue and to our efforts at TEAM.
There are numerous movements within our nation seeking their own prominence and in so doing are denouncing the Church, the Bible, and the Gospel of our Lord Christ. Where the Church’s role is removed from society, sin will prevail – and we are seeing that quite clearly not only in these recent events but also in attitudes and behaviors that have grown more prevalent and have led to them. On another note is the concept of community. Dutch theologian and prime minister Abraham Kuyper proposed a Biblical concept that he called “Sphere Sovereignty,” suggesting that in God’s creation there are levels of stewardship given to individuals and institutions, with limits upon each. Community is one of those spheres. As such, God has given us stewardship over our community, and it is here that we must wrestle with the outworking of structure, compassion, care, accountability, and justice as we take responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors.
TEAM brings these two concerns together. We represent numerous churches in the Tomball community, and these churches play a significant role in this community, not allowing themselves to be driven to irrelevance. The presence of God’s people, his Bible taught, and a care for neighbor are prominently displayed and continue to have an impact on Tomball. TEAM’s existence is direct evidence of a taking on the stewardship of community. The churches we represent and others who support TEAM show their commitment to have an active hand in our community, responding to needs and seeking to improve the lives of all who live among us.
I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to take on this stewardship and by doing so to be salt and light of the Gospel in Tomball. Thank you.
J. Barry Hart, Jr.
Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries