These are just a few of the black people who died in interactions with police in the past few years. Some in the past few days. Regardless of how you feel about any of the people on this list, their deaths are inextricably linked to you as a mentor. You are linked because the underlying swell of racism in our country is a front line reality for the young person you mentor and their family. Whether black or brown, when they see another unarmed person killed at the hands of police, they see the harsh reality that they or a loved one are just one routine traffic stop away from death themselves. They see disparity between the treatment of Dylann Roof, the domestic terrorist who killed nine people, and Tamir Rice, the twelve year old gunned down in Cleveland in a park. Yes, twelve. He could’ve easily been your protege.
So what are you to do? You may think “this is too overwhelming! What can I do?” While the Lord will have to lead you in many ways, here are few places to start.
- Pray– pray specifically for your protege and their family. Pray for protection and wisdom. Pray big! Pray for the racism in our collective hearts and fear to be uprooted. Pray for justice and pray for police officers who for the most part are trying to protect and serve.
- Listen- your protege and their families have thoughts on what’s going on. They have experiences that you don’t. Listen to what they are saying and empathize. You may not be able to relate and that’s ok, just listen and care.
- Engage– boldly address the current issues. Ask questions, read articles, watch videos, and don’t act like nothing’s happening. The Lord may lead you to do more but start somewhere.
- Root yourself in scripture- In these times it is easy to lose hope. With so much information coming at us each day we can just be saddened at the immensity of it all. For your own soul, take a break from the news and social media and read scripture each day. Get your heart and mind submerged into the grand narrative of what God has revealed. And there you will see Gen. 1:27, Lamentations, Eph. 2:11-22, and many other passages in a whole new light. As you see the people of God suffer in anguish at the injustices of a fallen world you can relate and look to Jesus in hope!
- Remember mentoring matters- In light of everything, know that what you do matters to God, your protege, and their family. So keep showing up! Keep pressing in and keep allowing the Lord to shape you in the process.
I have included a few resources below:
-Billy Rose, Director of Mentoring and Discipleship