By Randall A. Bach and Kwabea Francis
Co-leaders of the Unity Commission
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all”.(Colossians 3:11, NIV)
If I told you your conversations had the power to impact the body of Christ, would you believe me? Your conversations and interactions with people, all people, have the power to change the body of Christ and our nation for the better. Your next response would naturally be “How?” There is no easy answer other than being willing to speak and interact not only with people who look like you but also with people who look and sound differently than you. The issue that exists in our nation today regarding racial bias and discrimination can be transformed by our conversations and our willingness to be open and follow through for the change.
For this reason the Open Bible Churches Unity Commission seeks to do its part to lovingly encourage and assist Open Bible ministers and, by extension, churches to be sensitized to the continued reality of racial bias and discrimination. We desire to help them become aware of what they might not have otherwise recognized, to look within their own hearts for what they may not have seen, and to look for opportunities to build unity in the body of Christ that both honor and transcend racial and cultural differences. We are not suggesting that Open Bible ministers are racist or even sympathetic toward racism. Rather, we believe all ministerial leaders must be invited and challenged to recognize the continued legacy of racism that scars relationships and communities today and to stand and speak against blatant racism as well as subtle racial and cultural bias and discrimination. Leaders must lead.
- We will be biblically undergirded and committed to serving in and under the love of Jesus.
- We will be convictional in direction and invitational in communication.
- We will seek to please Jesus both in what we desire to achieve and in how we pursue that achievement.
- We will seek transformation of hearts and renewal of minds.
- We will desire as Commission members to model what we advocate.
- We will not allow righteous indignation or anger to corrupt Christ-honoring interactions.
- We will not be accusatory in tone or presumption.
- We will not be partisan in orientation.
The Unity Commission is seeking to assist Open Bible ministers and other leaders to be better equipped and empowered to impact our denomination, our communities, and our nation, thereby continuing in the fulfillment of the Great Commission by making disciples of ALL men and women. Here are the members of the Commission and their responses to their role in the changes that are much needed in our nation:
“In a survey of Open Bible ministers, 98 percent stated they are open to suggestions about how to address racism. That is an outstanding declaration from hearts! And I believe they represent the hearts of lay people in Open Bible Churches as well. We all need to grow and learn how to be God’s agents of love who purposefully reach beyond the racial and cultural barriers that our sinful world erects. Open Bible Churches’ Unity Commission is dedicated to serving that purpose. May all of Open Bible be a relational dwelling where people of every nation and race feel embraced and at home.
Randall A. Bach, Open Bible President
“I love serving on the Unity Commission because when we work together as a body of Christ, we make Him known. There are many people who have yet to know of His amazing love and greatness.”
Mone Cavan, pharmacist and Open Bible church member, Des Moines, Iowa
“I value serving on the Unity Commission because we are actively working on acknowledging, addressing, understanding, and solving the challenges that members of different races have in trusting one another. We hope to come up with spiritual, cultural, and practical methods by which we can understand and learn to trust one another by working together on the challenges of race that have plagued America for centuries. We can then share the remedies with our churches.”
Pastor Frank Collins, Jr., pastor, St. Clair Shores, Michigan
Timothy Guilen, assistant pastor, Woodhaven Branch of The Shepherd’s House Open Bible Church, Ozone Park, New York
“Through my participation in the Unity Commission, I have been given the unique opportunity to hear experiences and perspectives other than my own. I have seen that differences can unite rather than divide us. It’s an honor to be able to get to know some of my brothers and sisters who look and sound different than me.”
Kwabea Francis, chaplain, Davie, Florida
“I am honored to be part of this group and thankful for the friendships I have gained. My life has been enriched by their stories and my perspective about race in America has grown, for which I am so grateful.”
Candi Hagan, regional assistant for Open Bible’s Southeast Region, Valrico, Florida
“I’m honored to serve on the Unity Commission simply because as a Black man serving in a predominately White organization, it says that my voice, views, and vision are valued.”
Gary Wyatt, pastor, Spanaway, Washington
About the Authors
Randall A. Bach
Randall A. Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Regent University. Randall and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 49 years and call it “our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches. A voice for Evangelicals, his work has been featured in several publications, including Ethics: The Old Testament, The New Testament, and Contemporary Application. He has also produced and edited several publications and other resources, including the Message of the Open Bible and We Believe: Core Truths for Christian Living.
Kwabea Francis has served in ministry for the past 20 years. She is a member of the Gator Nation, having earned two degrees from the University of Florida. She earned her Master of Divinity in 2010 from Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. She has served in various ministry roles, such as children’s pastor, youth minister, family pastor, and chaplain. An ordained minister with Open Bible Churches, Kwabea currently serves as the Director of Operations in the south region for Marketplace Chaplains. In addition, she attends and serves at Living Word Open Bible Church in Cooper City, Florida. The roles Kwabea is most proud of are that of wife to her husband of nine years, Garfield, and mother to her three sons, Nate, age 16, Josh, age 13, and Mike, age11. Ultimately Kwabea’s desire is to please God in and through all she does and says.