Dear Editor,

I’d like to thank Dwight Needens for last month’s opinion piece seeking to understand Gina Saldana’s letter about the “All Lives Matter” billboard erected at the edge of Quincy. I came to know Dwight years ago as my son’s bus driver so appreciate his ardent Christian faith and dedication towards informing himself with a variety of different news sources.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dwight and Gina’s assertion that Jesus Christ was indeed a rebel. Jesus sought to fulfill the will of God the Father, not the will of the Pharisees or ruling tribunals of His day. Jesus defended, included, and embraced the “unsavory” of His time; some of whom were a reviled tax collector, woman of ill-repute, women-in-general, former criminals, the diseased, poor, dying, demonically delivered, foreign, and shunned. As Jesus was a rebel against bondage and oppression, His ministry embodied that all lives do matter.

However, what He personified even more, by intentionally surrounding Himself with the oppressed, was that He acknowledged their pain, exclusion, cries for recognition, and inherent value as human beings.

These men and women were no less treasured children of God than the Pharisees, the wealthy, healthy, salt-of-the-earth respectable families of ancient Jewish society. Our loving Christ boldly and unapologetically uplifted those that were persecuted.

This brings me to why an “All Lives Matter” billboard would be upsetting to those of us that understand the spirit behind what people feel when they believe that “Black Lives Matter.” The premise of “All Lives Matter” is undeniably true. Accepting that “Black Lives Matter” does not diminish the importance of other lives. As Jesus Christ recognized those that suffered by choosing such individuals as confidants and recipients of His grace, so should we recognize that BLM offers a voice for those that have been oppressed to express their pain. By responding with “All Lives Matter,” you choose to ignore the real, historically documented, and ongoing suffering that African Americans and other people of color endure every day. Personal salvation in Christ is a relationship between each individual and God.

However, the existence of that relationship does not supplant Jesus’s mandate for us to alleviate pain in those who suffer. That same salvation in Jesus is the bedrock that softens our hearts with the desire to comprehend and eradicate the pain that racial and ethnic minorities continue to experience. Jesus elevated the oppressed, so can we.

Sandy Zavala

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