Mourning a loss and doing the necessary work to end racism

Racism. We see it everywhere, but we experience it differently. It’s insidious. It’s soul destroying. But does it take your breath away?

It should. 

I suspect many of us saw how George Floyd died. Did it take your breath away? I hope so. It was painful to watch someone struggle to breathe. As the minutes ticked by, the growing awareness I was watching a life ebb away became a reality.

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
– Job 33:4

I found myself yelling at my computer screen. First in my head and then out loud. And then it was as if I, too, had lost my breath. I was silent. Four men saw black skin, where they should have seen a man made in the image and likeness of God. His life had come to an end, and his soul departed his body.

Mr. Floyd was a believer and follower of Jesus. In the blink of an eye, he would be welcomed into paradise. I picture him lost in Jesus’ eyes as they share the knowing glance of men who struggled to breathe as they died – one, whose breath was taken without mercy, the other who willingly surrendered his breath out of mercy.

George Floyd was our brother. He, too, was a son of God.

I picture him lost in Jesus’ eyes as they share the knowing glance of men who struggled to breathe as they died …

As we mourn Mr. Floyd’s death, and rightly demand justice for his life, it is critical to appreciate that we experience racism differently. I’ve never feared a police officer. Or feared for the life of my son.

How can we extend generosity of heart in these moments? What can we do? Our whole nation is mourning this loss.

There are no easy answers or simple solutions. Racism is so deeply embedded in our nation that it will take a great deal of pain, time, intentionality, prayer, and love to overcome. But I am convinced it is possible. 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan and in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, we see the heart of God to confront racism. Through Jesus, we see a pattern that is incarnational, engaged, honest, loving, fearless, costly, and risks one’s reputation. We also see changed lives and changed hearts.

The church has the ability to confront racism. We have the tools, biblical teaching, and resources. Sometimes I wonder, however, if we have the will. It won’t be easy. I am convinced the church can lead the way, first internally, and then in our communities.

The risk we run now is viewing this as a moment in time, when it must be a movement for change.

It will take work, hard work, and our labor may leave us breathless. I’m good with that.

About the Author

Mike O’Neill is President of NYC and the Northeast for the National Christian Foundation. Before joining NCF, he lived in London for 10 years, where he was the CEO of Stewardship, a leading UK charity which promotes generous and tax-effective giving. A native of NYC, Mike has also served on the senior leadership team for Redeemer Church, where he was Executive Director of their mercy and justice outreach: Hope for New York.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by, and is used here with permission from, the National Christian Foundation.

The National Christian Foundation is a charitable giving ministry that provides innovative, tax-smart giving solutions for Christian families and their advisors. Since 1982, we’ve sent more than $12 billion in giver-recommended grants to 63,000 charities at work in disaster relief, Scripture translation, adoption, homelessness, education, and countless other causes. 

all stories

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments