Take Them My Kingdom (Jesus, Jobs and Justice)
My passion to reach African American men crystallized during the height of the crack epidemic in the 80s and 90s after my two youngest brothers were killed. They died approximately six years apart. In fact, I had four brothers, and all of them have died or been killed prematurely. Jesus spared me (and many other black men) from the curse that killed my brothers because I became a committed Christ follower in the nick of time.
I preached the funeral of my two youngest brothers, which was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Their deaths were devastating and convinced me that young African American men were facing an unprecedented curse and crisis that neither America nor I could continue to ignore. I doubled down in my efforts to reach African American men.
I quickly learned that addressing the crisis facing African American men was daunting. White supremacy had inundated the entire American system and was thoroughly undermining the progress of many African American men. Even more destructive was the self-hatred that white supremacy had taught African American men. Self-hatred was and still is so pervasive amongst African American men that “nigga” is used as a term of endearment and black-on-black homicide is the leading cause of deaths for African American men.
For me, it’s sad seeing poverty, joblessness, failing schools, mass incarceration, and early death devour so many young African America men. What’s more, most African American churches seem oblivious or indifferent to the plight of African American men. I sought the Lord for ways to change the predicament of African American men. His answer was not to wait for African American men to visit church but to take the kingdom of God to African American men. And His answer became my divine mandate.
My understanding of the kingdom of God was initially very limited, especially regarding how it could transform the lives of young black men. So, I studied the kingdom of God diligently. I read everything on the Kingdom of God I could find and prayed incessantly for God’s wisdom. I followed Bible teachers who taught on the Kingdom of God such as the late Dr. Myles Munroe and my pastor Bishop Lockett. My knowledge of the kingdom of God increased slowly.
Eventually, the Lord taught me that taking the Kingdom of God to black men practically could be accomplished by taking them Jesus, jobs, and justice.
TAKE THEM JESUS
Taking the Kingdom of God to African American men is a step-by-step process. The first step is convincing them to become Jesus followers so they can experience the new birth. Once they experience the new birth, they become Kingdom citizens, possessing all the benefits of Kingdom citizenship. Moreover, Jesus automatically and simultaneously revokes their allegiance to satan and citizenship in his kingdom, which is the cause of their oppression in the first place.
The second step in taking the Kingdom of God to African American is intensive discipleship; a process our church calls Saltmakers 360. The primary focus of discipleship is to help new Jesus followers commit to and mature in righteousness, holiness, godliness, and other Christian virtues that foster achievement. It involves teaching and training black men in the Kingdom principles that cause Kingdom living.
Kingdom living is the lifestyle of Kingdom citizens. It’s the marvelous byproduct of seeking the Kingdom of God first and obeying Kingdom principles. It can empower African American men to conquer white supremacy, fatherlessness, poverty, disease, substance abuse, despair, and so forth. It can produce success and transgenerational prosperity for the African American community. It can also protect African American men from premature death since it has the power to break the deadly spiritual curses and cultural habits that kill black men disproportionately.
Satan doesn’t want African American men experiencing Kingdom living given its benefits. He seeks to alienate them from Jesus, and by extension Kingdom living. He uses lies, deception, and hypocrisy to accomplish this alienation. Let me explain.
We must return to the founding of this nation to understand the reason many African American men feel alienated from Jesus. As whites built the slave system and profited from free slave labor, many white theologians and ministers justified slavery by twisting Scriptures. They twisted certain Scriptures to appease their own guilty consciences and to make the enslaved Africans accepting of slavery. This hypocritical perversion of Scripture caused, and continue to cause, many African American men to distrust Holy Scripture.
Additionally, many African American men feel alienated from Jesus because whites have depicted Jesus as white. They have Europeanized Christ. The historical and Biblical records are clear: Jesus is not white nor European. He is a Hebrew from the Middle East, a man of color undoubtedly, perhaps even black. Jesus and His people have suffered slavery and oppression as African Americans have experienced in America.
The Europeanizing of Jesus continues to alienate many young African American men from Jesus and the church. We intend to reverse this alienation by planting a church that, among other things, accurately depicts Jesus as a man of color who understands the trauma of oppression and injustice.
TAKE THEM JOBS
In addition to needing Jesus, many African American men desperately need jobs. The unemployment rate for African American men (10.4%) is 2.3 times higher than for white men (4.5%). In some cities, such as Chicago, the unemployment rate for young African American men is over 50%. Unemployment is so dire for many African American men they have vanished and quit looking for work.
This high level of unemployment and joblessness for African American demonstrates how entrenched racism is in America and it contributes to the concentrated poverty in many African American neighborhoods.
African American men desperately need jobs for other significant reasons. Like all men, African American men find their identity and self-worth in their jobs. Jesus placed in the DNA of all men the desire to work and provide for their families. Without jobs, African American men cannot provide for their families and feel a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness. This sense of worthlessness and hopelessness have caused many African American men to abandon their families and turn to crime, which further exacerbates their inability to find jobs because of the felony records that crime produces.
Jesus can solve unemployment and joblessness for Black men if they seek first His Kingdom and righteousness. Black men will thrive if they turn to Jesus. He can supernaturally bless and cause corporate investments and the entrepreneur spirit to abound for black men when they apply Kingdom principles to their lives. He can cause their jobs, careers and business endeavors to prosper. He can rebuke the devourer and reduce poverty. Jesus can transform black men economically and empower them to create wealth.
TAKE THEM JUSTICE
The Kingdom of God represents justice for all. The concept of justice for all is not secular and did not originate with humans. It originated with God. It’s as much a part of the character of God as are holiness, faith, love, and truth. Psalm 89:14 says the very throne of God comprises both justice and righteousness, and the Prophet Amos instructed Israel to let “justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” (Amos 5:24).
The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. In his book, Generous Justice, Dr. Timothy Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York defines justice as protecting the rights of the vulnerable. Dr. Keller’s definition of justice demonstrates the importance of justice in a fallen world where the majority often oppresses the minorities. His definition reminds us that without justice, the rights of the vulnerable would be swept away by the powerful. He teaches us that justice demands that society enacts and enforce laws that prevent and punish unjust exploitation of the vulnerable and promote equitable opportunities for all.
Many whites have a difficult time embracing justice for all. Above, we stated that many whites practice white supremacy and constructed a legal system that brutally enslaved and stripped African Americans of dignity and humanity. It was only after Jesus moved white Christian abolitionists to demand justice for enslaved African Americans were white slaveholders forced to dismantle slavery vis-à-vis a horrific civil war.
Many white slaveholders were unbowed, nevertheless, even after the civil war. They refused to show justice to the newly freed African American citizens and instead enacted Jim Crow laws to segregate and oppress them. This awful Jim Crow system lasted another hundred years until once again God used His church via the civil rights movement to dismantle Jim Crow.
History proves that from ancient Israel to modern day America the Lord has consistently championed justice for all. He has consistently opposed injustice since He created humans. Even today, He’s forcing America to continue working at creating justice for all. Hence, we thank Jesus for the progress America has experienced, culminating in the election of the first black President.
The fight for justice never ends, despite having had a black president, because some whites fear the changing demographics of America. They are determined to “take America back” or “Make America great again” thru such tactics as mass incarceration, voter suppression, and attacks on affirmative action.
Hence, the fight for justice requires the complete destruction of systemic and institutionalized racism. Much work is still needed before African American men are experiencing justice. For instance, our education system unjustly traps many young African American men in failing schools. Read my book Education Injustice to learn how failing schools marginalize black males and places them on the school-to-prison-pipeline
Regarding the school-to-prison-pipeline, our criminal justice system unjustly imprisons many young nonviolent African-American men and leaves them disenfranchised and marginalized. Mass incarceration of black men is the stubborn proof of continued racial injustice in America. Sadly, mass incarceration and mandatory minimums may be around for many more years since current Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes criminal justice reform and supports mandatory minimums.
Further, our health care system unjustly denies many young vulnerable African American men equal health care, and our corporate system unjustly denies them equal job and career opportunities.
As committed Christians, we must preach, teach and demonstrate the love and Kingdom of God by demanding justice for young vulnerable African American men. We must not stand silent as injustice and inequality prevail.
Hopefully, you understand better our vision of taking the Kingdom of God to African American men thru Jesus, jobs, and justice. We’re unabashed in this assignment. We relish in it.
Some people may misinterpret our heart with claims that we are violating scripture by targeting only young vulnerable African American men. We disagree strongly for two reasons.
First, Jesus has targeted particular groups throughout scripture. He targeted Nineveh. Jonah 1:2. He targeted the lost sheep of Israel. Matthew 15:24. He targeted Gentiles (Romans 15:16). He targeted the poor, brokenhearted, captives, blind and the bruised. Luke 4:18. Last, He instructs us to target the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, imprisoned, fatherless and widows. Matthew 25:35 and James 1:27.
Second, our mandate to target African American men does not come from racial hatred or bigotry. We love, welcome and offer our ministries and charities to anyone in need. Seriously, we welcome everyone.
By targeting young vulnerable African American men, however, we are merely reaching a group that America has left behind. Please help us reach them!