We Are Called to Live a Lifestyle of Reconciliation
By Neddie Winters

Mission Mississippi has been leading the way in Christian racial reconciliation and healing for the past 24-plus years. The mission of Mission Mississippi is to encourage and demonstrate grace in the Body of Christ across racial lines, so that communities throughout Mississippi can see practical evidence of the gospel message. Our vision is to see Christians living out the grace of the gospel unhindered by racism, racial
strife, racial prejudice, racial hatred and racial division throughout Mississippi and the world.

The problem is racism, racial strife, racial prejudice, racial hatred and racial division is being passed on from one generation to the next, which is hindering the whole of society from moving forward racially, socially, economically and spiritually. I believe we are passing these things on because we are not doing anything “intentionally” not to pass them on. We are calling on the largest population of Mississippi, which
is Christian, black and white, to live out the grace of gospel unhindered by racism, racial strife, racial prejudice, racial hatred and racial division.

The Christian church has been given the ministry of reconciliation that is getting others reconciled to God. Since we are reconcilers, we must live a lifestyle of reconciliation. What this means is we have been ompletely, thoroughly and radically changed from the inside out. We are no longer the same anymore. Mission Mississippi believes for us to live out this reconciliation as a lifestyle, we must be intentional and intense about passing on a better legacy of racial relations to the next generation.

There are some essential principles and practices to change a generation and pass on to the next for overcoming
and outliving racism, racial strife, racial prejudices, racial hatred and racial division. The principles are prayer, forgiveness and love. I call them PFL. For radical change to occur, we must first pray for one another, pray for our enemies and pray for those who are different from us. Secondly, we must forgive one another, forgive others and forgive those who have wronged us. Thirdly, we must love one another, love others and love our enemies. The goal is to live out “gracism” not “racism.” Gracism is the act of extending the same grace (prayer, forgiveness and love) that we have experienced from Jesus Christ to others to promote racial reconciliation.

The practices are Intentional, Initiatives and Infrastructures or the “I” practices.
• I must intentionally develop loving relationships across racial lines as a lifestyle.
• I must develop learning initiatives and lead my family and friends in building relationships across racial
lines through mentoring and discipleship as a life style.
• I must develop leadership infrastructures in my home, church, community, government,educational systems and the marketplace that meet the needs individually, collectively and corporately that are equitable and
equal.

The question I hear most often is, “Neddie, how does this work in real life?” Well, the answer is reconciliation is a lifestyle that embodies our daily living in such a way that it becomes as normal
as breathing. Therefore, thinking reconciliation precedes doing reconciliation, because reconciliation is
God-initiated. It is not a project or an occasional event; it is a “lifestyle.” Our ability to be reconcilers and serve as God’s ambassadors of reconciliation requires that we pray that God’s thoughts become our thoughts on a daily basis.

Mission Mississippi works to create an environment and opportunity to build relationships established on trust,
respect and honesty. We call it building relationships “Mission Mississippi Style.” The requirements are personal initiative, quality time and honest exchange. Personal initiative has an element of risk, of stepping beyond insecurities and inviting others to a shared risk. We proactively schedule what we value so quality time says I value you enough to invest my most precious resource time. We must give not only time, but “quality
time.” Human nature naturally resists discomfort and honesty. Deep heartfelt honesty is uncomfortable. However,
once that honesty has occurred, the depth of the relationship grows. Vulnerability creates a context of trust
and respect that leads to honesty. For racial healing to take place, hard conversations must take place.
Reconciliation calls us to be one with God and with one another, which is not sameness. Reconciliation brings about restoration of right relationships with God and humankind and between individuals of all races and cultures.

Reconciliation gets us beyond integration and accommodations to right relationships with God and with one
another. It flows out of repentance and forgiveness vertically with God and horizontally with each other.

I believe every Christian must be an intentional reconciler of godly reconciliation.

Article from Wells United Methodist Church Newsletter February Edition