By Hannah McMahan
When I was a little girl, there was an older man in my church who scared me.
Mr. Sanders was stern, unpredictable and would yell at children who made the mistake of stumbling into his path. He walked with a limp. It was a condition that seemed to cause him great pain.
Apparently, when Mr. Sanders was a little boy he loved to climb trees. But one day, as he was climbing, he lost his footing and fell to the ground, breaking his leg. At the time of the injury, his bone was not properly set and regrew at an awkward angle, so Mr. Sanders went through the majority of his life walking on a leg that had not truly healed and suffered with every step.
Doctors will tell you when treating broken bones, proper alignment is important. If the bone is not set properly, a doctor may need to break the bone again to reset it. Of course this is painful, but necessary for true healing to take place.
I think a good deal about what healing looks like. I see people of faith working every day to heal what has been broken.
But our churches were broken long ago by America’s original sin — racism. For too long we have allowed racial injustice in our communities, in our churches and in ourselves to go undiagnosed and untreated, leaving our bones to rejoin at untrue angles.
In my work with New Baptist Covenant, I see people of faith coming together to foster real racial healing. Often this begins with sharing painful stories of neglect, betrayal and injustice that break our hearts. But it is these very stories that can begin the healing process and allow for new possibilities to emerge.
When we as brothers and sisters in Christ come together to share our wounds and bear each other’s burdens, relationships grow and new friends begin working side by side to bring about true justice for all. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
By the grace of God, I’ve seen glimpses of a new church emerge. A church that has found its footing. A church where all of God’s children gather together to advance the Kingdom of God.
Thanks be to God, the Great Physician, who brings about true healing. Amen.
— Hannah McMahan is executive director of New Baptist Covenant.