The last week of May 2020 will go down in American history as one of infamy.  The week will not be remembered for a positive discovery or development that benefitted humankind, but for a milestone in the war against the coronavirus (COVID-19) and an incident in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that together starkly show the tenuous state of race in the United States at the time.

On Wednesday, May 27, the number of deaths due to the coronavirus surged past 100,000.  The number is a grim milestone on the tortuous road the country has traveled since the deadly, mysterious virus began to wreak havoc in the United States early in 2020.  Inarguably an undercount, the figure is a jarring reminder of the virulence of the virus, not to mention the government’s less-than-stellar handling of the contagion that has disproportionately affected African Americans.


Two days earlier, on Memorial Day no less, an unarmed black man named George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, his death directly due to the actions of white police officers that were caught on camera.  The graphic video showing a policeman pressing his knee into the neck of the handcuffed, hapless Floyd sprawled out on the street has been played and replayed, each time triggering raw emotions in viewers.  Floyd can be heard pleading for his life in words eerily reminiscent of those uttered by Jesus Christ on the cross. One need not have 20/20 vision or the gift of discernment to conclude that Mr. Floyd’s killing was unjustified, unwarranted, and inexcusable. 


News that one of the four police officers involved in the incident has been charged with third degree murder and is in custody has not stopped protests in several cities. Irate demonstrators have continued a campaign of confrontation and destruction, demanding swift and full justice for George Floyd and his family.  The demonstrators have been compared to a mob and called thugs, and the destruction of property has been swiftly condemned.  While the destruction of property is to be bemoaned, the anger and anguish of people should be acknowledged as legitimate issues.


Commentators have argued that the COVID-19 pandemic, as lethal as it has been, is no match for the pandemic of racism still ravaging this country years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Some are even demanding that racism be declared a national emergency.


Should Christians be concerned?  How may we relate with integrity to the tragedy of the coronavirus and the travesty of what took place in broad daylight in Minneapolis?  Certainly, not by treating the milestone or the moment with benign neglect.  To be silent is to be complicit.  It may reveal that one is a co-conspirator.  We must strongly condemn every act and policy that dehumanizes and disenfranchises. We must work tirelessly for justice.  We must challenge unfair practices.  We must demolish every wall that divides, segregates, or classifies.  We must agitate for equity and fairness.   


Jesus made it plain that to be a disciple of His entails putting our lives on the line for those who lack power and voice (Luke 10:25-37).  Christ began His ministry by declaring His commitment to those who exist on the margins of society (Luke 4:16-19), and He consistently identified with suffering humanity (Matt. 25:31-45).  Throughout His earthly pilgrimage, Jesus stood  in solidarity with the oppressed.  We must not only admire but live as Jesus lived if we are going to be true to our Lord’s call.


The coronavirus affects the respiratory system.  At some point those victimized by the virus experience shortness of breath and may exclaim or mutter like George Floyd, “I can’t breathe.”  The words are a chilling reminder that we have work to do and a long way to go.

Clifford Jones








  1. Stan Culp says:


    For the most part, your letter was a blessing. Informative and clearly direct. All of us needs to be a disciple for justice whenever possible alway exibiting the character of Christ. However, be careful with things you print. Due to the increase of what Medicare will pay for a COVID-19 death vs any other death, is a compelling reason to be classify a COVID-19 death. A strong tactic of left wing politics is over kill. When you say government, please don’t lump all in one basket. Some state governments have done an excellent job containing this virus while others have not. That’s like saying all white policemen hate blacks. And finally you write “We must demolish every wall that divides…” That is exactly what will be said when Revelation 13 is enforced. The separation of church and state wall should never be demolished. Please double check your thoughts before submitting to the public. Blessings!!

  2. Hector Abarca says:

    WOW….. that is the best possible way to write what I as Latino felt reading the words that came from you dear PRESIDENT OF LAKE RIGION CONFERENCE. as seventh-day Adventists non of what is happening should take us by surprise. As a (latino) day in and day out we are discriminated just as you all dear brothers and sisters of the black community, however I find wrongly done by the sda president of L.R to write such a letter. “WE HAVE WORK TO DO AND A LONG WAY TO GO” would have resumed what a lot of us is going thru living in the neighborhoods where this hole mess is going on. Your words brother Clifford Jones awakens discomfort, sadness and i dare to say even anger as huma being we still are. As seventh-day Adventists we are, we have to understand that ou words may project a bit more than we mean.
    Please accept my apology if in any way I may sound disrespectful.

  3. Rene Rentie says:

    Yes it’s about time the Church spoke out for we also have Racism in the Church

  4. Lisa W M. says:

    I have read this with great sadness. I do believe we need to be like Jesus. Please do not equate how Jesus died upon the cross as similar to how George Floyd died. Jesus did not at any time plead for His life on the cross. Jesus was totally without sin. Regardless of what crime George Floyd committed, he did not deserve to be arrested and murdered in that way.
    Racism and injustice in any form is unacceptable as we are all children of God. Imagine one day in heaven we will all live together no matter what we look like. If we cannot get along here, then heaven will be hell. We are exhorted by Jesus to turn the other cheek and in John 13:34-35 Jesus gives us the command to love one another as He loves us. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes what love is. This time that we are living in and how we proceed will show to others and the world that we are children of the living God. We are called to be different as we are not to be of this world. The whole world is hurting and in need of a Savior and isn’t it wonderful that we can connect people to who Jesus is. May God bless you and give you wisdom.

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