The air had a chill about it, but more than 200 people of varying races joined together this past Monday to walk the streets of Flint and join hands in prayer. Our youth group was among them. We prayed for God’s work in our government, jails, school and churches. We prayed for those who are hurting, down and struggling financially. We joined hands — black hands with white — in a unifying cry to God for wisdom, boldness and the strength to follow Him wholeheartedly.

Many times we talk of unity and love, but seldom do we exemplify it. I grew up in an area where the towns were racially diverse, but most certainly not mixed. There were white sections and black sections and Hispanic sections. A person dare not cross from one side to the other. It wasn’t due to some violent act that would befall the offender, but due to the cultural norms and how one would be looked down upon for a deed such as this. I heard few claim they were racist, but the types of jokes, language and isolation told a different story. I even had a teacher who was unapologetically racist. Those views and cultural norms flow down through the generations; views and norms that I desire to stop with me. This is why I purposed to take an all-white youth group to and all-black gathering on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is an invaluable lesson taught before my time that “people … not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).

Christ taught us to “Love one another” (John 13:34-35) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He didn’t say to ‘love one color’ or one race or one culture, but to love one another. He didn’t say to love your neighbor if they are just like you, fit your mold or act like you desire. No! He said to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Perhaps you will ask the question one expert of the law asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with a story. When you finish reading it you can’t help but come to the conclusion that your neighbor is anyone who is in need. As a Christ-follower, you should act toward others — no matter their culture or color — as Christ did toward you — “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He loved us from all different races when none of us were loveable.

Are there people in need in Osceola County? Yes. Are there those suffering whom you are not comfortable around? Most definitely. What would God have you do? I encourage you to do as we did on Monday and pray. Pray for God to open your eyes to needs around you. Pray He will grant you a heart of compassion. Pray for God to give you wisdom and boldness and faith to follow through on what may seem like an overwhelming task; a task of love that seems too great for you or I, but is most certainly not too great for God.