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'We need to move from lamenting to repenting': Pastor close to George Floyd says Christians need to repent from the sin of racism

by Heather Preston

A pastor who worked closely with George Floyd says the Church needs to acknowledge the role it has played in systemic racism, mourn the injustices experienced by the black community and repent of its sin.

Anti-racism protests have been sparked across the world in response to the death of black man George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis last month after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. 

Before moving to Minnesota in 2014, Floyd lived in the notorious "Third Ward" area of Houston. 

During his time there, he supported lead Pastor of Resurrection Houston, Patrick Ngwolo to bring Christian ministries into his neighbourhood and help young men turn away from crime. 

Speaking to Premier, Ngwolo described Floyd as a "person of peace, sent from the Lord" to help him reach a closed community with the message of the gospel.

He referred to Floyd's death as a "biblical example of the innocent sufferer" that does not go unseen by God - comparing it to the murder of Abel in Genesis chapter 4.

"Cain slays his brother and then God says something that has been resonating within me. He says, 'Cain, I hear the blood of your brother crying out.' Even though Cain thought the end of Abel's life was when he slew him, God hears his cry, even beyond the grave. And I think with Floyd's death, God hears the cry of Floyd beyond the grave, and he listens," Ngwolo told Premier.

As demonstrators gather to call for justice and racial equality across America, the UK and other parts of the world, Ngwolo says he hopes Floyd's death will serve as a catalyst for lasting change. 

"We're either going to master the sin of racism, or the sin of racism will master us. I think our country is at an inflection point, I don't think it can go backwards. 

"It can either go forward into building the kingdom of God here on earth with justice and equity, or it can devolve into chaos. And so, as in the words of Martin Luther King it's either chaos or community."

Ngwolo has encouraged the Church to model this and begin tackling systemic racism through a process of lamentation, repentance and unity.

"There's a three-step process that the Church has to go through - a period of lamentation - crying out to God about where we are personally and where we are as a country is something that I think Christians need to do worldwide. 

"Then I think we need to move from lamenting to repenting - to not only call racism a sin but to see that it is part of our corporate identity and to repent from that sin of racism."

Citing Ephesians 2:14-16, Ngwolo insisted that churches focus on establishing a united and "beloved community within their own walls", in order to be an outward example to the rest of the world.

"As the book of John says - these people will know that you are my disciples by the love that you (and let me insert the races and ethnicities, more appropriately) will have for one another. 

"When we see that togetherness, that brotherhood, I think that we would then have done our job in making a gospel witness in the world."

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