In a recent interview, Rev. I. Malik Saafir reveals why he became a minister and how he became apart of the Church Within A Church Movement (CWACM).
Here is Part I of the interview:
Interviewer: How did you become a Christian minister?
Rev. Saafir: I entered the ministry my senior year in high school. As a young person in the Baptist church, I discovered multiple opportunities to serve the church and community. I was zealous as a young Baptist missionary and evangelized and preached whenever I was given the opportunity. After becoming a licensed and ordained minister, I “converted” to Pentecostal Holiness to deepen my awareness of the movement of God through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. My vision of ministry quickly changed and I discovered my calling to become a prophetic teacher. When I returned to the church I pursued this call as a student at Vanderbilt University in the School of Divinity where I met Dr. Victor Anderson and Dr. Fernando Segovia. Dr. Anderson and Dr. Segovia introduced me to African-American Religion and Postcolonial Biblical Criticism, respectively. I will not bore you with the details but let’s just say I learned how oppressed and marginalized people across the globe resisted the message Christian evangelist, preachers and missionaries that condone inequality, poverty, war, disease and greed as a way of life. I immediately connected the experiences of people of color throughout the world who resisted the European Empires with the experiences of those who resisted the Roman Empire. All Empires past and present justify inequality, poverty, war, disease and greed as a way of life. I now know that to follow the liberating messages in the Jewish and Christian Bible sometimes means you have to stand against the Church.
Interviewer: What led you to become a member of the Church Within A Church Movement (CWACM)?
Rev. Saafir: The CWACM is a radical response to the exclusionary practices of the Church. Our response mirrors the response of the Jesus Movement to the fear, hate, greed, arrogance, domination and violence perpetrated by the Roman Empire against those who were not Roman. Historically, the exclusionary practices of the Church became institutionalized under the rule of the Roman Emperor Constantine. When the Christian religion became the religion of Roman Empire its organizational structure, theology, rituals, traditions and practices became oppressive rather liberating. Today, the CWACM challenges the authority of the Church which continues to justify the oppression of persons who are not white, male, heterosexual, and upper class. The CWACM calls persons who identify with the Jesus Movement and not the institutionalized hypocrisy of the Church to stand with US as WE stand with those persons who experience exclusion and hold the Church responsible for contradicting the Gospel message of inclusion.