Racism feeds on denial

Lamenting Racism video series moves us to tell the truth

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Racial injustice is a blight on our society, yet many Christians have been hesitant to speak up about racism. What exactly can we do about it? Where do we go from here? In Lamenting Racism (Herald Press, January 2021), a multiracial team of leading pastors and theologians (Rob Muthiah, Abigail Gaines, Dave Johnson, Tamala Kelly, Brian Lugioyo, Anthony Powell, John Ragsdale, and Jessica Wong) invite believers into the practice of biblical lament as a powerful way to confront racism. Through their conversations in six thought-provoking videos, they guide us into experiencing lament as an anti-racism practice.

“Lament has become an act of worship for me as I seek to connect with God in the midst of great pain,” says Anthony Powell, lead pastor of Redeemed Life Church and host of the Lamenting Racism video series. “When I lament in the presence of God and in the presence of others, I find it actually connects us in ways that God uses to keep moving us forward to confront racism and seek shalom for all people of every skin color.”

Lamenting Racism encourages congregations to reclaim the lost art of biblical lament and models a powerful way to pour out the fear, shame, grief, and rage of racism as we cry out to God in prayer.

“We find laments throughout Scripture, both the Old Testament and the New Testament,” says Rob Muthiah, professor at Azusa Pacific University and leader of the Lamenting Racism project. “The book of Lamentations is a whole collection of laments. About one-third of the psalms are songs of lament. The book of Job is essentially one long lament. Lament is heard within the New Testament as well. For example, we hear those words on the lips of Jesus on the cross where he cries out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”

The Lamenting Racism six-session study invites church groups to engage in the practice of biblical lament as a powerful tool in the church’s struggle against racism. In addition to the streaming video series, both a leader guide (978-1-5138-0864-2, $16.99) and a participant journal (978-1-5138-0862-8, $11.99) are available to aid in group study.

“I used to think that a good Christian could never talk to God that way, that expressing bad emotions or questioning God are signs of faithlessness,” says Tamela Kelly, lead pastor of The Purpose Church. “But what I have learned is that crying out to God, demanding action, even questioning God, and protesting against God, all this is actually an act of faith. You don’t cry out to God unless you believe that God will hear you. You don’t demand that God acts unless you think that God can actually do something. Lament is actually an act of worship.”

The Lamenting Racism team: (left to right) Dave Johnson, Rob Muthiah, John Ragsdale, Tamela Kelly, Jessica Wai-Fong Wong, Abigail Gaines, Anthony Powell, and Brian Lugioyo.

Rob Muthiah teaches pastoral theology and Christian ethics at Azusa Pacific Seminary and is passionate about equipping local churches leaders to pursue God’s vision of justice and righteousness. He served as a pastor for nine years and is an active member of Pasadena Mennonite Church. He is the author of The Sabbath Experiment and The Priesthood of All Believers in the Twenty-First Century.

To schedule an interview with Rob Muthiah, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.