Focus Scripture: Isaiah 59:15-21
I wonder if God is displeased to see that there is no justice for the oppressed in Ferguson, Missouri, or in Watts in Los Angeles. August 11, 2015, marked the 50th anniversary of the riot there. But believe it or not, positive changes have taken place in Watts since 1965. The New York Times ran an article with this headline: “Watts, 50 Years On, Stands in Contrast to Today’s Conflicts.”
Now, you might be asking yourself, can anything good come out of Watts? For, at one time Watts was a “symbol of urban strife and racial tensions.” Today the community is being hailed as a place that has made a remarkable turnaround. There “were fewer than a dozen homicides in the neighborhood last year, compared with hundreds in 1965.”
What has changed in the past 50 years? This is what has changed: The community has started to forge partnerships with people, agencies, and groups committed to changing the community culture. What’s important is that the culture is changing because people in Watts have started to partner with each other in the name of justice. If it can happen in Watts, it can happen in other places that share similar circumstances.
I believe that the principle of “Ubuntu” can be applied to these scenarios. Translated roughly, the term means, “I am because we are.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained the concept: “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. In the Watts example, the culture of the community was changed fundamentally because of the spirit of Ubuntu. It took some time, but now – 50 years after the infamous riot – people are working together with other people in partnerships for the betterment of all.
As many of you know, God has a track record for stepping in just at the right time. What does it mean to partner with God? Well, it means that we should step out in faith and do our part, and God will do the rest. There are times when God fights the battle from on high. We may not always be able to see how God is working behind the scenes. Sometimes we have to stand still in faith and know that God is working things out.