This is a story of how God calls on the church to save our sons and daughters. The Bible says in Exodus 1: 8, “Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.”
Joseph was the first child of Rachel, the wife of Jacob and his father’s favorite son. Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh’s dreams, predicting seven years of plentiful food, followed by seven years of famine. Joseph also advised the Pharaoh to appoint a commissioner to store up supplies during the plentiful years. When the famine struck, people from all surrounding lands came to buy food from him.
Many years passed between Joseph’s arrival in Egypt as a slave and his rise to power in Egypt. The Hebrew people prospered as long as the Pharaoh remembered Joseph.
Yet, there came a new king that did not know Joseph and people turned on the Hebrew people. The king and the Egyptian people had no appreciation for Joseph’s character, caregiving, or achievements. The king became afraid of the Hebrews, the Ethiopians, and the Canaanites.
The king voiced two reasons for his fearful concern leading to the inhospitable treatment of the Hebrew slaves: (1) the alarming increase in the number of the Israelites and (2) the fear of their aligning politically with a foe in time of war. These are they who were the chosen people of God, but slaves to the Egyptians.
Gordon Tucker, in the book, “Slavery Then and Now,” said that God is saying, “The children of Israel are My servants,” and the rabbinic tradition afterwards added the following gloss to that biblical verse: “My servants — and not servants to servants.” Yet, the Pharaoh turned them into slaves of Egypt.
The same thing happened to Blacks in America. We became slaves to slaves. William Barton wrote in 1899 for the 13th Amendment of 1865, “Before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be saved.”
We are the sons of former slaves and slave owners. Blacks held position of power immediately following the end of slavery during the Reconstruction period. We held over 1,400 elected offices. But there came a time when the president of the United States did not remember Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth.
Exodus 1:15-16 reads: “The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.’”
According to one Rabbinic position, Shiphrah and Puah, Hebrew women, were mother and daughter who defied Pharaoh’s order to kill Hebrew boys. Pharaoh was concerned that the Hebrews would overtake the government, overtake the economy, and overtake the religious order of the day.
The same challenge exists today. We spoil boys and educate our girls. Black boys are dying at an alarming rate as well as the amount of Black babies dying from poor health care and violence.
The infant mortality rate for African American children is 18 deaths per 1,000 live births in comparison to 9 per 1,000 Whites births. Black boys survive less than girls; 1,965 deaths per 100,000 live births versus girls’ 1,603 per 100,000.
70% of African American children are born out of wedlock. Female African American teenagers lead the industrialized world in teen pregnancy, followed by Arabs and European Americans.
According to the study by the Washington Post, Black men age 15-34 are between nine and 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other people.
Yet, the greatest deaths are Black crime against Blacks. It is no longer Pharaoh killing us, but we are killing us.
Ex. 1: 22 reads, “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’”
Pharaoh then enacted an open, more aggressive policy to stem the Israelites’ numerical increase. Pharaoh called for the annulation of Hebrew boys, but two women stood up against Pharaoh. This is a lesson for the church.
Oppression does not stop unless someone is willing to stop it. So the oppression against the Israelites deepened, but God prepared a deliverer. God sent two women to save Moses from death.
The church must save our sons and daughter. The untimely execution of Nipsy Hussle by the hands of a miseducated man must come to an end. The senseless demonstration of a misuse of power by the hands of Jussie Smollett and R. Kelly must come to an end. We always hear the Black church call for prayer. It’s time out for just that.
The truth is, it is time for the Black church to deliver and intervene for children being systematically denied the same opportunity as the majority community. It is time for the Black church to convene conferences, reading programs and recruit teachers for children falling behind in academic studies.
It is time for the Black church to attend school board meetings, PTA meetings, and become trained advocates for children suffering in silence in school. It is time for the Black church to take to street to end human trafficking.
It is time for the Black church to speak up, stand up, write up, and demand up to care for sons and daughters. The truth is, it is time for the Black church to save our sons and daughters!
The Black church must do more than pray, but work, fight, and pray to save our sons and daughters.
The Rev. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr., MRE, is the senior pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, located at 45 Tesla in Irvine, CA.