Seeking Justice in Charlottesville

Reflection for the 2011 Rally

Pastor Halliard Brown, Jr.

of Zion Baptist Church-North Garden, VA

February, 2011

To the executive board members, to the angel of the Church of Incarnation, to all my brothers and sisters in Faith, I greet you in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is good to see so many of you here tonight and I want you to take the time to give yourselves a big hand…for we are doing a mighty work for God and the people of our respective communities. My question to you tonight is what are we come to do? And our answer should be “Make an IMPACT!” So whenever you are asked the question “what are you going to do?” your answer should be “Make an IMPACT!”

As I look back upon how IMPACT has influenced our church’s ministry at Zion Baptist North Garden, VA, I recall the first meeting that I attended which was actually the first big Nehemiah action of 2008 in Charlottesville. My daughter and son-in-law invited me as a guest for Union Run Baptist Church. I stopped by here tonight to let you know that to see justice ministry in action for myself, had a profound effect on me.

I had made it a goal when I became pastor to take a holistic approach to ministry and I thought I had all the bases covered. After experiencing the Nehemiah action I soon realized that I had not included justice ministry as part of the ministry plan. It also became plain to me after meeting the people involved and learning more of the workings of IMPACT that this organization would soon be an intricate part of our justice ministry at Zion Baptist.

Would the folk from Zion please stand so the people can see that you came tonight to make an IMPACT! We are few in number but filled with determination to do our part to grow, make our voices heard, and make an IMPACT. These are Zion’s Justice Network Members who are committed to bringing three persons each to the Nehemiah action.

All of you that are here tonight that are Justice Network Members and are committed to bringing three persons to the Nehemiah Action will you please stand tonight and be recognized. Let’s bless them tonight with a thunderous handclap. God bless you all. “Now, for those who have not made a commitment we challenge you tonight to get excited and make that commitment before you leave.”

God said something in Jeremiah 29:11 that stirred my spiritual juices in this justice ministry arena. He said

“For I know the plans I have for you…” “…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

As I began to look around the community I began to see things that pertained to making living this everyday life more bearable not being attended to, and being taken for granted. This was an injustice to those involved. I heard folk talking about how they did not have transportation to and from work because the bus did not come to their areas or the scheduling of the buses did not accommodate their schedules.

I heard folk talk about how their schools were not meeting their children’s physical, nutritional and educational needs. As I told them of the recent accomplishments of the IMPACT organization I saw an expression of hope come on their faces. They had a hope that God’s plan is being implemented through this process.

At one of the Pastor’s meetings, which came out of our being part of IMPACT, Pastor White of Union Run said he compared IMPACT to washing clothes. When you put clothes into a washing machine they had to go through a washing cycle in order to become clean. You had to put in the proper ingredients and the machine began to agitate the clothes in order to get them clean. There had to be a shaking going on to get the desired results. I found out that this organization is likened unto that metaphor.

There has to be a shaken up of the powers to be in order to get justice done. Many times in the process of doing the business of justice you will run across some very nice folk that are council members or are members of the committees that we bring our issues to.

Yes, they are very nice folk but we have an agenda laid down by God that says yes we are our brother’s keepers. Sometimes you have to agitate, and aggravate, educate and sometimes irritate in order to adjudicate the problem at hand.

 And there has to be a unity of the people to make it happen. And there is no stronger connection to the area’s communities than the faith based community within them.

I am reminded of Nehemiah who is the biblical example for our justice ministry model and he shows us that sometimes we will come up against confrontations.

And when we face those moments of tension and confrontation we don’t need any more gripers, complainers, self-proclaimed prophets, and armchair quarterbacks. We need some folk who are going to get up off their rusty dusty and do something about the problem at hand.

Nehemiah saw a problem and was distressed. Instead of complaining or wallowing in self-pity and grief, he took action. Nehemiah knew that God wanted him to motivate the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, so he left a responsible position in the Persian government to do what God wanted.

Nehemiah knew God could use his talents to get the job done. Just like God knows He can use your talents here today to get the job done.  From the moment Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, everyone knew who was in charge, and that’s how we at IMPACT have to be. Nehemiah organized, managed, supervised, encouraged, met opposition, confronted injustice, and kept going until the walls were built. Nehemiah was a man of action. What are you going to do? (“Make an IMPACT!”)

The concerns I had about having a holistic approach to ministry is now fulfilled through IMPACT. As children of God we are to have compassion for our fellow man and be the instruments in the earth to fulfill God’s plan for us. His plan is not for His people to live through one disaster after another all alone, but to have a hope and to have a future.

 God’s plan for His people is for all things to work together for their good. Jesus said in the gospel according to John 10:10b,

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

My brothers and sisters of IMPACT, we are called out soldiers in God’s army placed here to fight injustice so that all may have the abundant life Christ sacrificed for us to have.

 We are called out to fight injustice everywhere. As one great justice fighter put it, “If there is injustice anywhere, there is injustice everywhere.” We as called out fighters against injustice are to keep fighting until justice flow down like mighty rivers of water. Fight, until we have heard every concern of all the people! Fight until every concern is met.

Fight until every injustice has been rectified, fight until the people have been made whole and God has been glorified. Fight the good fight of faith until our Father’s work is done.

The apostle James said in his letter 2:26

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

This body of IMPACT should never grow tired of working justice ministry. We have the faith in God, and the power of His Spirit, so now let’s produce the fruit with the power given to us from that faith.

Let’s fight together to rectify the injustice being done to our people in the community with mental health issues. Let’s stand together as one body in the Spirit of Almighty God to fight against injustice everywhere. So I ask the question again, “What are we going to do?” “Make an IMPACT!” What are we going to do?” “Make an IMPACT!” 

 I thank you IMPACT and all my brothers and sisters in faith for your works in justice ministry through the interfaith community. Let us not get weary in our well doing and let us thank Almighty God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit for keeping us in His Word, His will, and His way. God bless you all, and may heaven smile down upon you.