As last week wound down, and then over the weekend, we all heard reports of disparaging remarks about the nation of Haiti and certain unnamed African countries. These reports have sparked many different kinds of responses from people of different faiths and no faith, different political leanings, and different tones.
The Free Methodist Church commits to viewing the world and its peoples through eyes and hearts shaped by the person and mission of Jesus, and seeks to interact in the world along paths forged by Jesus in his own ministry. Therefore, generalized characterizations of people and nations, by their very nature, cannot help but misrepresent and disrespect the people of those nations. As a matter of fact, it is because God so loved the world … that any of us have hope for a future that is bright and brilliant. In truth, none of us had a say in where we were born, what circumstances and opportunities we had at first, and what influences initially shaped our ability to develop our full human potential. Consequently, as the Apostle Paul asked rhetorically, what do you have that you have not been given? And, if it is all in some sense a gift, then gratitude to the Giver and grace toward all others should well up within us (1 Cor. 4:7 in context). All human beings are made in God’s image, are of inestimable value to God our Father, and are to be cherished.
We claim with joy tens of thousands of very fine and highly gifted Haitian and African brothers and sisters who model beautifully the best God intends for human beings, and who work tirelessly to contribute to the well-being of their nation and the world. As followers of Jesus, and as Free Methodists, let us deplore demeaning and disrespectful characterizations of any human being made in the image of God, and let us leverage all the influence and blessing God entrusts to us to create understanding and contribute to the blessing of all persons and places.
Bishop David Kendall on behalf of the Board of Bishops