Statement on Racism by NAC President, Darren Slade (3rd June, 2020)

In recent days we have witnessed protests, tensions and turmoil spreading across the United States and around the globe in reaction to the death of George Floyd. This unnecessary and tragic loss of life was due to heavy handed treatment by a police officer as his law enforcement colleagues stood passively by. While many of us are feeling saddened and shocked by such an inhumane act, for scores of others it has triggered fears, vulnerability and helplessness as they recall occasions where they fell victim to the scourge of racism. And in frustration and despair we are wondering how this can still be happening, why we haven’t learned from the lessons of the past and is there any hope for the future.

The territory of the Northern Australian Conference is incredibly culturally diverse, and this is reflected in our church family – beautiful people from dozens of nationalities who bring richness and variety to life and worship. As a congregation of Seventh-day Adventist believers over which Christ is the head (Ephesians 5:23) there is no room for racism, as we recognise that every person is created in His image (Genesis 1:27). We serve a God who is love, and who admonishes us to love one another (John 13:34). Every nation, tribe, language and people originate from God’s work of creation (Acts 17:26) and we are called to share the gospel with them (Revelation 14:6) and to make disciples of, and baptise, them (Matthew 28:19). The reason we are bidden to share faith with all people, regardless of their cultural or religious background, is because God loves every person on this planet and wishes to see each person saved (John 3:16). You see, in His eyes, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In Jesus’ life He left an example of love and acceptance for all, free from the artificial construct of racism. Not only did He model it, but He gently coaxed the early church to drop the prejudice and bigotry so as to see the value in each soul for whom He died. My heart breaks for the family of George Floyd, and for all those who have been, and continue to be, impacted by racist behaviour. We are not free from it in Australia, nor even in our church family. While the sad truth is that racism will be with us until the Lord comes, we can stand against it, defend the victimised and exert a positive influence on those around us. We can listen instead of judging, and have our hearts open instead of our prejudice. We can continue to seek our God daily and be filled with His love for others. All racism, no matter how covert, is to be condemned and has no place in my life or in the lives of any follower of Jesus. Pray for God’s help at this time of unrest and let’s bring the love of Jesus into our church, communities and country.

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