Breaking barriers and building bridges
The Rev. Marshall Blalock has always cared about race relations, but the night nine Christians were killed at a Bible study in Charleston at Emanuel AME Church simply because they were black changed his life. He was at CSU Oct. 24 to speak with students.
Blalock is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston and the current president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. As SCBC president, he will preside over the Convention’s annual meeting in November. The meeting’s theme is building bridges. In an unprecedented move, the meetings will be held at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, a historically black church, and a Tuesday night worship service will be at Emanuel AME.
Blalock said his conviction is that racial animosity still exists in our country. He said CSU students, possibly the most diverse student body affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, should understand that truth more than others. Chris Singleton was a CSU student when his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was killed at Emanuel AME.
Blalock said he has learned, “What is often happening in the world around me is often invisible to me because it doesn’t affect me. If you don’t know, you can’t see.” Blalock is determined to see. Ephesians 2:14 says Jesus destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
Blalock shared three ways to begin making a difference.
- As Christians we are to “live with complete faithfulness to what the Bible says.” He said, “Our job is to be people who break down barriers.”
- He encouraged students to build bridges. “Learn to listen to one another,” he said. “Invite a person of another race to do a Bible study with you.”
- Blalock said, “The only power on earth that is capable of dealing with this issue is the grace of God.” Blalock told the story of Anthony Thompson, husband of Myra Thompson who lost her life at Emanuel AME. Thompson forgave the killer at his bond hearing. Thompson said, “I’ve been forgiving my whole life, so when it came time, I was able to forgive.” Blalock said, “That’s how your classmate, Chris Singleton, was able to forgive; he had seen forgiveness in his mom’s life.”
He left students with a final challenge. “Start building bridges in small ways. What are you going to do? Show grace, and let’s get started.”