When you live among a couple of cultures, there is often an option to stop listening to one and lean towards the other and then switch back when you’re ready. As an American living overseas in a safe and fairly prosperous country, I regularly stop listening to British ways, and find myself in the overseas food aisle (World Food they call it) searching for real tacos.
It was when the pandemic became full blown and most people were searching aisles for basics, I started feeling a little tension that had nothing to do with loo rolls or salsa. I began to feel the tension of isolation. It had everything to do with airports. Up until COVID-19, I always knew I could go home in an emergency. When they closed the airports, I felt closed off to my whole world of home.
The day George Floyd was murdered, my emotions reacted in painful free-fall and I was so far from home-thinking. While people speak of an “echo-chamber” as having like-minded opinions around you, no one around me understood why I felt so strongly; but then, they weren’t daughters of the American south, Southern Baptist. I knew Jesus wanted a “come to Him moment” with my heritage.
Yet, the airports were closed. I couldn’t fly home and peacefully march into church and collectively figure out how to change or what to do. On this side of the pond, my tears were making no sense. Though I knew in my heart that racism wasn’t just an American problem, the British weren’t having the conversation. I needed to deal with what happened in Minneapolis. With the lock-down, I couldn’t even head up to the American church in London to see if two or more wanted to pray together.
I don’t know if the Holy Spirit ever guides you on google, but God had me find a lifeline on Twitter that day. There it was, a global Zoom invitation from Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) out of Atlanta, Georgia. The invitation called for daughters of the King to meet regularly to talk about race and healing and justice, as well as share our work as Baptist women. The airports might be closed, but Baptist Women in Ministry’s “Office Hours Meeting” invited minds to be open to the mind of Christ in these challenging times, often pain-filled times. In these Zoom meetings, BWIM offers a rare safe place for all races and calling to process faith, work and passions. They’re stuck with me now!
Kathleen McAnear Smith is a member of Guildford Baptist in Surrey, England, after being part of a church planting team in the East End of London. She’s written three books and is a student at Spurgeon’s College, London. She is passionate about her grandchildren and thankful for a very full family life. With airports closed, she and her husband will enjoy the English Lake District.