Valley Christian Schools mourns the inexcusable and unjust death of George Floyd last week. We cannot dismiss this as an isolated incident or remain silent about the deeper racism that lives within our country and divides us.

As a school, we have the incredible opportunity to come alongside our students and instruct them in the light of God’s truth. We understand we play a vital role, in partnership with our parents and local churches, in shaping our future leaders and citizens. This opportunity is not something we take lightly, but one we wholeheartedly accept. We teach that we should respect others and treat them the way we want to be treated. We also believe that everyone has been made in the image of our Creator. It is our prayer that our students will take those lessons, live for Him, and respond when opportunities arise to make a difference in this world. This is at the heart of our school’s existence and why we believe there has never been a more important time for Christian education. At VCS, we strive to be a diverse community of Christians and unequivocally condemn the sin of racism in all its forms. As Christians, we are called to love others as Christ loves us.

The Apostle John wrote,

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

As a community of Christians, we must recommit to putting our words into actions. We must choose to lead in our communities and demonstrate the qualities that Christ has taught us – especially those of love and respect. We stand in unity with those who are peacefully protesting this injustice and call on our nation and communities to ensure equal justice under the law.

To the African American members of our community, we love, value, and support you during this time. We recommit ourselves to your safety and well-being and to pushing forward larger conversations about race, respect, and justice this year. Black lives absolutely matter.

To members of our community who are involved in law enforcement, we again thank you for your important role in protecting and serving our communities. We ask you to be a continual light in our community while justly demonstrating authority.

We also must condemn those who seek to exploit this tragedy by looting, burning buildings, destroying businesses, and causing injuries or death. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Sadly, our country is deeply divided and in turmoil, but we hold firmly to the belief that this is an opportunity for our community, and Christians nationwide, to be bold and courageous — to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.

We do not pretend this will be an easy or quick endeavor, and as a school and community, there will be times we fall short. We are all in the process of learning how to live lives of grace and truth – however, we cannot wait until we have it all figured out to act. We must consider how we, as a school, can lead through action. Now is the time for us to have conversations and to speak up, work, and pray for justice, healing, and understanding as we commit to love others as Christ first loved us. Ultimately, placing our trust in the Lord’s ability to protect, heal, and change hearts.