By Guest Blogger: Vernee’ Washington
The wilderness is a desolate and deserted place, a place of lack, scarcity, and silence. When you hear the word wilderness in reference to the word of God, what do you think about?
There are two instances that typically come to mind – the children of Israel and their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and the leading of Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
But I submit to you that there is another reference worthy of attention.
In John 1:23, John the Baptist declares these words, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way for the Lord.” John the Baptist spoke of himself as the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. This wilderness is the place where his ministry occurred. In this place of lack, scarcity, and silence, he ministered, baptized and preached repentance.
Why the need for ministry in the wilderness?
Could it be that symbolically this is the place where much of the world dwells? In a desolate place – where people ignore the issues of the day and pretend that they don’t affect them because they are not “their” problem. Could it be that the wilderness is a place of deception where silence seems comfortable.
But, should there be a voice in this wilderness?
Our generation is now living during a time where racial conflict can no longer be hidden by crafty suppressors, but it is now live and in color, accessible at any moment and broadcasted for the whole wide world to see. Its ugliness is now publically exposed.
We can no longer be silent.
In a speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entitled, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, this quote is given, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” He goes further, “We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”
Steve Kelly, North Park University Ministries leader, last week at chapel asked two very powerful questions that speaks to all of us at this time: “what stories are you walking alongside that are different from your own?” And, “who are you advocating for?” John 1:23 speaks of one voice, one person crying out.
Where are the others?
If race reconciliation happens, it can start here, it can start with us. We are a diversified voice, the voice of many, but there are not enough voices crying out in the wilderness.
Mark Charles, speaker and writer from the Navajo nation, defines race reconciliation this way, “In obedience to God, racial reconciliation is a commitment to building cross-cultural relationships of forgiveness, repentance, love and hope that result in walking in beauty with our fellow man and God.”
In the past year, our country has been in severe racial conflict over the cases of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Why must it take tragedy to spark a conversation? Yet, a conversation is a good place to start.
Yes, let’s come to the table with open hands and an open heart. Let’s hear the stories of those who are different from us, but yet similar in so many ways. Let’s enter into conversation with acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity as the goal. Together let’s conquer the racial divide. Let’s tear down the walls of racial injustice. Let’s boldly declare that all lives matter.
It can happen here, it can happen with us. For we are the voice of many, but who’s crying out in the wilderness?
Our Latino brothers and sisters are looking for a place to belong and desperate for immigration reform. Who’s crying out?
How can in this day and age 300 young girls in Nigeria be kidnapped from a school and authorities are unable to secure their return? Who’s crying out?
At the same time a deadly shooting occurred at the office of a French magazine in Paris, where 12 people tragically lost their lives over free speech, a Nigerian town was wiped out with more than 2000 massacred women, children and elderly. The news went virtually unnoticed. Who’s crying out?
Within the Syrian conflict over the past two years there have been more than 100,000 deaths and over a million people displaced. Who’s crying out?
Our world is in trouble.
We are the voice of many, but I ask you, who’s crying out?
Are you crying out?
Many thanks to our guest blogger Vernee’ Washington, a North Park Theological Seminarian.