Dear MarylandCru students, staff, alumni and friends,
We, as MarylandCru, publicly name and rebuke the sin of racism. It is indeed sin and shall not be married with Christendom, in any way. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many more are unjust, senseless and an abomination before our creator, God. We would like to genuinely stand with and for our black brothers and sisters in the U.S. as people of color continue to be systematically oppressed based on the color of their skin. America is called the land of the free and yet for hundreds of years this system has been in place and needs to be called out and taken down. We actively choose to rebuke white supremacists and racism.
We pray, we grieve, we lament and we also recognize that these well intended steps are just the beginning to bringing about justice with actions.
…The following are some personal thoughts from Ryan Penley, MarylandCru Team Leader…
My family and I have just moved back “home” after a year of STINT with Cru in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. We have not been home a full week yet and all six of us are struggling with reentry stress. This is commonplace for those who have served with Cru Global Missions, but this season is on another level with “two pandemics” in America, as my friend Dr. Rayshawn Ray stated in a recent interview. (COVID and Racism).
The past three days have been filled with conversations with our neighbors and friends and students as we all watch racism boil up to the surface in our country. Honestly, I’m grateful for this season. As we all quarantine ourselves and have a time to slow down due to COVID, we are able to even further examine our own hearts and the heart of this nation together. It seems sovereign that the Lord would bring a season like this to help us individually and corporately assess our hearts.
I read a couple of books this year that have been quite impactful. “White Awake” by Daniel Hill and “Color of Compromise” by Jemar Tisby. (Both of these authors spoke at a conference for Cru leaders a couple of years ago. Their talks can be found here). Daniel Hill shared that white supremacy is a parasite. Parasites attach themselves to a host in order to live and thrive. The host in this case is the white evangelical church at large. Powerful imagery and a great time to see this and to rip off this parasite. No longer! We, as the church, need to ensure that this parasite does not attach itself to us; we need to rebuke the racism and call it out.
In “Color of Compromise”, I have learned much about our history, both as a nation and as a church. I have learned the need to speak up and to use my voice, especially when the voice of others can be drained and drowned out. For such a time as this, I choose in particular to sit humbly before my brothers and sisters of color and to stand for them and with them in this war.
And when I do not think I have adequate words, or rather, when I know that I do not have adequate words, it is better to say something rather than to sit in silence and passively allow another year in history to go before me as racism lives in our country. So, I speak up and speak out.
Yesterday, I sat on my front porch and read Proverbs 1-3 according the Bible reading plan for this year with the Bible Project. Some may think the Bible is old, outdated and irrelevant. I’ll share a small section with you and allow you to be the judge…
Proverbs 3:21–35 (bold sections are my highlights)
 My son, do not lose sight of these--
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
 Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
 for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD,
but the upright are in his confidence.
 The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor.
 The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace. (ESV)
A father gives wise words to a son and it is captured here in Proverbs 3. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom…” (Proverbs 3:13). Wisdom is deeper than knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge. It instructs us on how to act and live. As a white man, I recognize that I have privilege and my friends of color have taught me that there is a time to be silent and to listen and a time to speak up. I honestly do not know what to say or what to do, but Proverbs 3 was quite helpful yesterday as I read and studied and meditated on this passage. In particular, verses 27-32…
Here are my takeaways… I have power to do good, I have power to speak up and to speak out. So, when it is within my power, do it! Far too long has the privileged majority withheld good and sat idly. Do not delay. Do not put it off until tomorrow. Do it now. The privileged majority has delayed and been passive for too long. I unintentionally have been a part of this and desire to change and repent.
I have watched the injustice of police brutality and white racist killing others. Verse 30, “do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.” The Bible does not promote this injustice but rather calls it out. These devious acts are an abomination to the Lord. George Floyd did no harm but was senselessly killed and he is just one of way too many examples. This is an abomination.
So now what? Truly, I do not know. But what I do know is that I need to pursue the Lord, to love my neighbor and actively engage in this war against racism in our country and to allow my faith to lead out in this battle, strongly and actively. Proverbs 3 is a good starting place for me as a father of four to impart wisdom to my kids and to continue to be a student before the Teacher, Jesus.
“Do not withhold good. Do not delay. Love your neighbor.” These are my three main takeaways from some quiet time with the Lord yesterday. This is a start.