By Bill MacLeod
The familiar children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me” contains the refrain: “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world!” Leroy Barber, our plenary speaker at Mission ConneXion Northwest 2016 (MCNW 2016) uses this song to pose the question, “Who’s more precious in God’s sight?”
In his book, “Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White Who’s More Precious in God’s sight? A Call for Diversity in Christian Missions and Ministry.” Leroy says: “My journey into the world of missions had begun completely from God’s call on my life. I had responded because God requested, and I owed God my life. I had a wife, children, and very few resources, but I had a “knowing” that I was in the right place, doing what I was divinely called to do.”
Now a resident of Portland, Leroy has dedicated more than 25 years of his life to eradicating poverty, confronting homelessness, restoring local neighborhoods and healing racism. Indeed, his most recent role was as Executive Global Director of Word Made Flesh Ministries, an international organization working in a dozen countries, committed to serving Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.
We need to see more people of color involved in missions, especially in cross-cultural settings where whole people groups go unreached in their own language and culture. As Leroy’s book points out, when few people of color are on staff with mission organizations – and fewer still hold decision-making power – these organizations fail to authentically reflect God, lose credibility to share the gospel, miss opportunities to affect transformative change, disempower the communities they serve, and sometimes even betray indigenous Christians and missionaries of color.
It is my hope and prayer that God will use Leroy Barber’s contribution at MCNW 2016, to help all of us see what we are missing in light of the Lord’s invitation to us to be unified in the midst of diversity (Gal 3:28; 1Cor12:12-30; Col 3:11; Acts 17:26-28; Eph 4:2-5 etc.) so that people of color would feel welcome to serve in increasing numbers in areas of the world’s greatest need and opportunity, among those least reached by the Gospel.
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