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The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Fourthly, the process of reconciliation is forwarded through the affirmation of peoples and their cultures. In the Bible we are encouraged to “confess your sins to one another”(James 5:16) and on the other hand in Proverbs it says “Let another praise you and not your own lips.” If we extend this principle from the individual to the international level, it is appropriate for me, as an Englishman, to confess the sins of my people, but it is not appropriate for me to boast about England! It is much better if I affirm the gifts and values of other cultures.

Fifthly, a Christian response must include prayer. Indeed it is foundational and nothing should be attempted in this area without it. Particularly effective is what John Pressdee of Prayer Expeditions describes as praying “on site with insight.” So for example, members of the Lifeline Expedition spent some time researching the historical background before praying at the former slave ports during the journey through France. Prayer is two-way communication and this type of on site praying often seems to provide further revelation on how to proceed with the reconciliation process.

Sixthly, Christians should support campaigns such as Drop the Debt, Jubilee Plus and other initiatives which seek to reverse the flow of exploitation which began with the slave trade.

Finally, Christians follow Jesus Christ who at the outset of his mission described his mandate in the words of the prophet Isaiah:             “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

                             because the Lord has anointed me

                             to preach good news to the poor.

                             He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,

                             to proclaim freedom for the captives

                             and release from darkness for the prisoners,

                             to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

                                                                                                    (Isaiah 61:1,2)

 

The involvement of those who dared to call themselves by the name “Christian” while involving themselves in the slave trade was a total contradiction of all Jesus Christ lived and died for. Christians of today need to face the shame of that and then move forward in humility seeking to follow more faithfully the example of their Master. That following leads inevitably to the Cross and the crucifixion of Christ was global in its implications for reconciliation. Jesus died before a multi-ethnic crowd with his title written in three languages nailed to the cross above his head. He came not only to reconcile individuals to God, but also to “destroy the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility......His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace.” (Ephesians 2:14,15) For those who follow Christ, He will inevitably be central in the process of reconciliation.


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