A Fuller Seminarian's Lament for Black Lives Lost

13627007_10153488840021184_4155939191784669405_n Profe's note:  This week's post comes to us from Fuller Seminarian, Derrick Wells.  This letter was originally read on July 8 at the Fuller Seminary "Die-In" in Pasadena.

Derrick is pursuing his Masters in Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in Youth, Family and Culture.  He currently co-leads the teen’s ministry at City Church of Sacramento.  In addition, he is program director for A.C.E. (Attitude Commitment and Excellence – makingaces.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the mentorship of at risk African American youth.  Derrick is also a deputy sheriff.

As a deputy sheriff, he is able to see how broken the family structure is in many of the youth lives that leaves them having to manage their own lives with very little life experience. He also sees many youth struggle to find their identity so he uses his ability to connect and share his struggles as a youth. “I can relate to many of the adolescents in the community who were raised by a single parent, grand parent and or foster parent. I was raised by a single a parent who did not hold me accountable and I drifted away to have a sense of belonging.”

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This is one of those moments when we wonder what is God up to. How can law enforcement officers kill African American adult men and teens?

Sometimes I wonder to myself; what am I supposed to do as an African American law enforcement officer and seminary student? Which side do I stand on? What do I risk and how do I show my affection to push for social justice without crossing that fine line? Questions that I’m asked and that I ask myself so often that it makes me tired at times.

If I was raised during the civil rights era where law enforcement used their authority to intimidate, how would I have felt knowing that my life could have been taken with no remorse from the person that took it? This problem has been going on for many years, and we the people are losing faith in our authoritative figures, and the church is losing also.

No one knows why God has allowed this, but I know people are tired of the abuse. I know that African American boys do not feel safe in their own communities. A group of teens from our non-profit was asked, what is a fear that they have. Responses were written and completely anonymous! They said,

“Getting shot because I’m black”

“Walking down the street and getting arrested because I’m black”

“Getting accused of a crime because I’m black”

Others had similar responses. What it showed is that they see what’s going on and they don’t feel safe.

We have been commissioned to Love all, and share the gospel to all Nations (which means all races). We also have to fight for social injustice for one another. Not only in our communities, but in our brothers' and sisters' communities as well. We are supposed to walk alongside of one another to encourage and restore what is broken, and to trust Christ knowing that He has already created the path to walk down.

It hurts knowing that there is disparity between the urban communities and law enforcement.

It hurts knowing that this is not an easy fix.

It hurts knowing that all of the families that have lost a family member to police brutality now have the mindset that law enforcement uses their power to intimidate instead of protect.

It hurts that the church (us) and churches (institutions) are passive when they are really needed.

It also hurts my heart to see that my brothers who I took an oath with to serve, are now being shot at during protests and killed. Now men are dead; wives are without husbands, and children are without fathers. Who is going to minister to these widows and the fatherless, and what are their perceptions going to be about Christ now?

When the U.S. was attacked by terrorists (9/11), our country and churches from all denominations came together to encourage one another. It was a tough time, but we fought for what we believed. We valued our livelihood. We are now faced with a sensitive domestic crisis that has the potential to divide us, and we need to fight again for one another like before.

If you are a believer in Christ – what do you stand for? Do you only stand for your personal salvation that was given to you from Christ or do you stand for all humanity like Christ. Christ said that we are a chosen people, so if we are chosen, we have the power to persevere which means we will have to endure the differences of one another in order to coexist and build His Kingdom.

I Love You Fuller!

Derrick Wells