Justice, Peace, and Shalom
by Johnmark Oudersluys | June 6, 2020
Our CityLink community is deeply saddened and troubled by the most recent killing of an unarmed black man at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect. To witness the killing of a man who was a son, a brother, a father, and an image-bearer of our creator is simply tragic in the truest sense of the word.
We are called to grieve, to reflect, to seek to understand, and to actively work to see our ideals brought to life, or in the words that were taught to us, work for “the kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven”.
We have witnessed the power of a holistic approach to life change for the brave individuals who walk through our doors seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The challenge of systemic racism requires a holistic approach within our schools, government, businesses, and places of worship. Systems can be daunting but they are man-made, comprised of people, and relationships are a pathway to lasting change.
At the entry of CityLink, we have a collage that highlights MLK Jr’s quote:
“In a real sense, all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
When COVID struck our country, we were all vulnerable, and everyone flocked to the internet to understand the disease, research the spread, and seek ways to flatten the curve. People radically adjusted their behavior for their self-preservation and for the benefit of those at risk.
Racism is as an insidious and equally deadly threat to our community. We should all be compelled to spend as much time researching and understanding how race in our own city leads to 10-years of less life expectancy for people of color as we do understanding the spread of COVID19.
We should all seek to understand how changing our own actions and practices can be a part of this cure.
In addition to our work to bring holistic well-being to individuals in economic poverty in our city, other great organizations like the Ohio Justice & Policy Center are addressing the justice system, our partners at PerScholas have been working for decades to bring underrepresented minorities into the technology field, Center for Employment Opportunities provides a path for re-entry for previously incarcerated individuals (who are disproportionately minorities), SmartMoney equips individuals to build assets and wealth, Changing Gears helps equip individuals with transportation to access new opportunities, and Learning Grove works to support parents and prepare their children for future academic success.
We all long for the day when we can close our operations because the work is done. Until then, we invite you to reflect on how you can be a part of the solution to the disparities across all sectors of our community and country.
Change is possible but it will take perseverance and a choice. We believe that “Challenge produces perseverance, perseverance produces Hope, and Hope does not disappoint us” so we continue to pray and work for peace, justice, and shalom for all of our community.
Thank you for being a part of our mission,