The movement fighting against racism in all its forms deserves support, solidarity and Christlike witness within it from all followers of Jesus. BMS World Mission believes that Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter. BMS affirms this statement without reservation or caveat. We affirm that black lives matter in the name of Jesus Christ who taught and embodied justice and who died a violent death at the hands of authorities acting with the support of unjust government and religious institutions. We affirm that black lives matter to the God who created all human beings in the likeness of God and through whose prophets and apostles the message of justice has been spoken. We affirm that black lives matter in the name of the Holy Spirit who has inspired prophets such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to fight for equality, respect and meaningful change, and whose messages have too often been co-opted and watered down for the sake of comfort.
We affirm that black lives matter because black lives are still being taken violently, decades after Dr. King himself was martyred. Because black lives are still marginalised by systemic racism, covert racism and oppressive policing all over the world, including the UK. Because too often we hear of ‘a few bad apples’ and other excuses for murder, discrimination and dehumanising racism that black people made in the image of the living God encounter every single day. We affirm that black lives matter because, to our shame, it seems that our society and our world do not yet understand this. And as long as black lives continue to be silenced, marginalised and oppressed, it is the duty of all who serve the justice-loving God to speak out on behalf of those who are suffering.
We affirm that black lives matter because we are black as well as white and many other races in our staff and body of workers. We affirm that black lives matter because we recognise the greater challenges that people of colour have faced just to be part of such a staff and body and because we recognise that white privilege, without and within our organisation, has often caused pain. We affirm black lives matter because we recognise that white people have a road to travel and that sisters and brothers of colour have been gracious and patient in the waiting – and should be able to expect better and quicker progress.
BMS affirms that black lives matter because we serve globally, alongside partners of all races and ethnicities, through whom God is at work in mighty ways, and we seek to express God’s love to those who have been marginalised and held down by a history of racism that has benefited our organisation by benefiting the country from which we have historically operated. We repent of the sins of racism we have committed and we seek, as we move into a time of new strategy, to redress the imbalances of power and race that have been our legacy, through listening to and partnering more equally with the World Church, through networks, through investing in emerging leaders, and through seeking to serve in solidarity that empowers those through whom God is already working.
BMS affirms that black lives matter, knowing that it may cost us something. We know that some do not agree. We know that some prefer a greater degree of equivocation and softening, or a focus on the imperfections within the movement. We know that there are Christians who still somehow deny that racism is a systemic problem. To those people, we would say:
Please listen to your black sisters and brothers. Please open your ears to what the Spirit is saying. Please do not miss out on what God is doing. We hope that even as you disagree you would still support and pray for the work we do in the name of Jesus around the world – but if you don’t, we believe that is a price worth paying. And we believe that God will honour our commitment to truth and justice with provision.
We do not say these things lightly. We know we have work of our own to do in terms of diversity, particularly in our leadership, as well as historic amends and inclusion. We are already working on these things and we will increase our commitment to them. This is not merely a statement, but a promise.
And to all the churches and individuals who are fighting for justice, to all those taking similar steps, to all those affirming a movement of justice that is long overdue support and success, we want to encourage you. Do not grow weary of doing good. This is right. This is of God. This is love and justice made manifest. We pray God’s guidance and God’s blessing on this movement of justice. Breath of God come, and fill the lungs of all who have been silenced. Give them voice and give the world ears to hear. Black Lives Matter.