Responding to Racism
We have finally broken ground on a new building, so we are very grateful for and excited about this long awaited step. Since building is on our mind this year, we will be focusing blog articles on other areas in which we are building: strong bodies, resilient emotions, keen minds, and other areas where we seek to provide foundation and shape for all we do as a school community. One area in which we have been learning and growing is in an understanding of diversity, race, and justice. We want to be clear as a school where we stand on these issues, so please read further to learn more about this important issue. We hope to share more with you in the future about ways we are putting this statement into practice.
- Anda Foxwell, Head of School
As the Head of School at CAJ, I sometimes struggle with what it means to speak for an organization. As I think about CAJ as a school founded by missions, located in Japan, accredited in America, filled with students who are from many different ethnicities with a very strong Japanese influence, it is challenging to know what issues to emphasize and where to take a stand. Recently, some alumni who care deeply for CAJ reached out to me, wondering where CAJ stood on issues related to race and racism. As a school filled with students from many nations, I'm sure we had reassured ourselves, perhaps naively, that this was an issue outside our walls. We were wrong. We have needed to listen and learn, and we entirely agree that none of us is completely untouched by the sins of racism. This has prompted me again to look at both the past and the present, and to also look within, and to try to express how we, as a school, can be agents of reconciliation and hope.
We lament the history of racism and separation that has tragically been part of organized Christianity over centuries. We acknowledge that the desire to share the gospel was all too often focused more on sharing a cultural interpretation of God's Word than it was on proclaiming -- and living -- God's good news of his love for all people, for his perfect justice, and for freedom. We understand that mission work around the world has sometimes been connected with systems of racism, oppression, and colonialism. We have not always taken God's call seriously, "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, New International Version).
We value truth at CAJ, even when telling the truth means exposing the evil that lies within us and within our history. The truth is that racism is evil, and we denounce it. "We repent of the ways that we as Christians have far too often failed to adequately stand against the evil of racism and violence: diminishing its severity, averting our gazes, and even perpetuating such injustice deliberately or complicitly" (Redeemer Church).
It is not enough to be passively multi-cultural; we must actively seek for peace, promote justice, and bring healing and transformation. We believe that we are uniquely positioned to do that as we "equip students to serve Japan and the world for Christ."
The fact that God created all humans in his image reminds us that all humans are worthy of dignity and respect, transcending race, color, language and gender. Furthermore, the saving work of Jesus tears down the walls of hostility that divide us. As Paul expressed in his letter to the Galatians, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ" (3:28). We look forward to the time we will fully experience this, when an uncountable mass of people "from every nation, tribe, people and language" will stand before the throne of Jesus and sing his praises (Rev. 7:9). We acknowledge that our world is not the way God intends it to be, while we also long for God's "kingdom to come" and for his "will to be done" (Matt. 6:10). We want to make the spaces we occupy: the CAJ campus, the city of Tokyo, and the world we touch, safe places of refuge and acceptance for anyone.
We believe we are designed for community. We value diversity, believing that we reflect God and glorify him better when we are together, and we appreciate the unique contributions of each community member. We also believe that God has a special love for those who have been, or who are being, oppressed; and that he calls us to cooperate in his work of living the gospel of grace and justice. As a school community, we commit to telling the stories and teaching the principles and concepts that will equip our students to stand for what is right and stand against what is wrong. We invite our broader community to pray with us and for us, that we may be faithful agents of truth, justice, peace and love in a world that desperately needs these qualities.