He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Soil Project & Heart of Man

A few months ago, our family had one of the most impactful weekends I think we've ever had in our life.  We had the privilege of participating in The Equal Justice Initiative Soil Collection Project. EJI has documented more than 4,000 racial terror lynching in twelve Southern states between 1877 and 1950. In Alabama alone we've learned, more then 360 lynching victims were shot, hung, burned or mutilated, often without the allegations of a criminal offense and get this,  always without trail or process. 

To create more understanding and awareness about the racial terrors, Eji gave assignments to many volunteers  to collect soil from every location where a person was lynched. Talk about heaviness. I can't describe to you the emotions that rushed over me. First, let me tell you a little about the woman who we were assigned.  My family and I were given the story of Elizabeth Lawrence.

Elizabeth Lawrence was killed and her home was burned down by a white mob in Jefferson County on July 5, 1933. She was walking down a road when a group of white children threw rocks and dirt at her. She verbally reprimanded the children, but didn't touch them. She returned to her home and later that night the mob heard about the scolding of the children. The mob then went to her home and committed that dreadful act of terrorism. Ms Lawrence's son Alexander filed a police report after discovering what had happened while he was out of town. Alexander ended up fleeing to Boston to avoid being lynched after the mob learned of his plans. Elizabeth Lawrence was one of the 29 African Americans lynched in Jefferson County between 1833-1940.

My heart began to pound immensely in my chest when we exited our vehicle on that old county road. I looked around at my surroundings and begin to try to envision what it must've  been like to be Ms Elizabeth traveling home after what may have been a long day of work. Feelings of fear, hopelessness, and even paranoia begin to overwhelm me. 

In my heart, I begin to just wonder why would the Lord allow such cruel acts of injustice go on? For a moment I got angry with him as I thought of His Omnipresence in the situation. It was then I had to think of His goodness and how He isn't the author of sin. Lord Jesus, the battle was so real for me that day.

As we scooped up the hard soil and broke it down with our  hands to fit it into the jar,  the hardness of the soil made me think about the heart of man (back then and today) who had no  concern or love for the lives of others. 

Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way
........ (Hosea 10:12-13)

Follow Ground....Hearts which were overrun with weeds,needing desperately to be ploughed and broken up by conviction, humility and strong godly sorrow over sin. Why? So that some good seeds may be sown in them. I can't help to think if this was the case we wouldn't be standing on this dirt road in Jefferson County collecting soil for a life lost.

You have plowed wickedness... instead of love or repentance or a life of goodness, many who were involved in lynching lived a life of wickedness and propagated it. They abused and perverted the fruits of God's goodness. This caused all sorts of confusion I'm sure when you had many waving the Christian flag yet standing behind such injustices. How sad.

Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end - Proverb 22:8

I'm so thankful that in spite of all this, the story isn't over. As hard as it to continue to watch injustice unfold today God still sits on the throne and will administer justice for all. I walked away from this experience wanting to continue the conversation and fight for injustice. I believe a conversation is important because it will help us all walk towards reconciliation as the bible so adamantly talks about. I believe a healthy, biblical, honest, raw and loving conversation will help not only us but the future generations confront the many challenges we see today as a result of the past. Challenges that racial inequality continues to create even today. Being silent, refusing to talk does nothing but add insult to injury and creates more and more disunity. (especially in communities of color)

If you're ever in the Montgomery area, stop by and visit EJI and be prepared to join the conversation. We need you on the battle field.