By Arnetta McNeese Bailey
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”—2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV
Just recently I watched a video by comedian Michael Jr. He introduced a segment called “Break Time.” It is an opportunity to take a break from what you are doing and ask yourself why you are doing this activity. This video has had a profound impact on my life. Michael ended the segment by saying, “When you know why you are doing what you do, then your what will have purpose and passion.” So how does all of this translate to a call for reconciliation? This statement so adequately describes my journey as a reconciler to Christian Women Connection.
My journey to be reconciler was not an easy road. I had become heartbroken and disillusioned with things I had witnessed in the church. I was happy to continue to serve in my local congregation where I was appreciated and could work among people that I knew and those who look like me. However, God had other plans. He would allow my ideas and notions to be shattered so that he could heal my heart.
On one particular occasion I had journeyed home on Interstate 69 from a board meeting in Anderson. I was incensed at what I had witnessed. I began to lament to the Lord at great length on the drive of my displeasure. In the midst of my struggle, the Lord dropped a thought in my spirit. In all my sorrow and complaining, not once did I use language of unity; not one time did I speak as though I was in relationship with those who had offended me. I spoke of them and they rather than us and we. Today it is easy for me to recount this story, but it was very hard to live in that moment. For what happened to me on Interstate 69 transformed my life; I saw myself. I saw my prejudices! Through my tears of sorrow and repentance, the very next words from my mouth were, “Lord, use me in the healing.” That day, my life changed and I sought to be a reconciler. Six months later, I was serving on staff in the one place I thought I would never be.
Ephesians 2:14 has become my guide, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” Dr. James Earl Massey says in his book Concerning Christian Unity, “The first step of unity is going beyond once hard-set boundaries; when this happens believers discover each other in other settings and begin to share their experiences. They will then discover their common faith, the contagion of each other’s witness and the embracing love that they could not defuse.” I learned I had to focus on those things we had in common, rather than those things that separate us.
In 2002, I joined the staff of Women of the Church of God; I witnessed barriers being broken. I became very passionate and committed to my assignment and the ministry of reconciliation, even as I faced periods of adjustments and challenges. God, being who he is, showed me that there are no coincidences in our life, but days that are numbered. My first speaking engagement in my new position as ministry coordinator was from the theme, “Together We Reconcile!” I took this as confirmation that I was where God would have me be.
I am blessed to have shifted from ministry coordinator to executive director! Along the way, while doing good work, my passion to be a reconciler became overshadowed by pressing matters. I remained quiet at times when I knew I should have spoken and, along the way, I allowed old feelings to surface at times. Yet, always in the back of my mind I could hear this voice, “I have called you to the ministry of reconciliation.”
Fast forward to today. Events in our nation have caused a revival to stir within me. I have found myself being thrust into situations that have fanned the flame of my calling; then I heard “Break Time.” What I came to realize was that over the last thirteen years, I amassed a long list of what I had accomplished, but I was losing the fire of why I was doing it. I took a much-needed break and asked myself, “Why do you do what you do?” The answer led me back to Interstate 69 when I said to the Lord, “Use me in the healing.” The fire has returned. I have been challenged over and over by events inside and outside the church to live out the challenge Mordecai gave to Esther, “Who knows that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” The time is now for reconciliation!
Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:16–20 that reconciliation is not a choice; it is a mandate from God for those who proclaim Jesus as Lord.
What I have learned along the way:
1. I belong to God!
2. God loved me so much that he sent his Son—reconciled me back to him.
3. When I accept God’s unconditional love, loving others is made easier.
4. I can no longer respond as the world does; Christian unity is a divine gift from God.
5. My life must be a reflection of who God created me to be.
6. I cannot achieve reconciliation on my own; it is a gift of God through Christ Jesus.
7. To be reconciled with others, I must first look at my heart.
8. I must forgive others before they ask for it. Do not count people’s sins against them.
9. I am Christ’s ambassador. The world will know that we are Christians by our love.
10. We must learn to listen to one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.
Each one of us has an opportunity to effect change in the environment in which we serve. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to your position for such a time as this. As we dreamed during this past board meeting for the future of Christian Women Connection, we were challenged to rethink our mission statement. We, the women of the Church of God, have always been leaders at crucial times in the history of the church. There is no time like the present for us to lead the way. It is time that we live as reconcilers, bridge-builders, as peacemakers. The new mission statement for Christian Women Connections says, “To build relationships with women everywhere, and to provide ministry resources to the Church of God and to other groups for connecting women through relationships, spiritual formation, and service, and to train and empower women for leadership in peace-building and reconciliation.”
Ladies, in this is a new season of ministry we must be bolder and more intentional. We can no longer accept hate and injustices to rule the day. Let us to take a break from the routine and live out the why rather than the what! Let us raise our voices and declare the time for reconciliation is now! It is time for us to show up, speak up, and stand up! The ministry of reconciliation begins with us!
Rev. Arnetta McNeese Bailey is the executive director of Christian Women Connection and the founder and executive director of Priscila’s Lost and Found and In the Company of Good Men. With a passion for the church and for reconciliation, Arnetta is a sought-after preacher and teacher. Article republished by permission. Learn more about Christian Women Connection at www.christianwomenconnection.org. Hear Arnetta speak at the Regional Conventions this year: www.chogconvention.org.