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Monday, December 1, 2014
The Aftermath of Ferguson: How the Church Can Lead the Way Forward
A young black male strong-armed and robbed a convenience store. A white officer confronted him. The incident escalated and the officer shot him dead in broad daylight. A black community reeled as his body lay uncovered in the street. The media swarmed onto the scene and began reporting conflicting stories. Citizens of Ferguson were assembled into a grand jury. In an unprecedented approach, they were called to wade through all the testimonies given under oath and all the forensic evidence under the watchful eyes of Ferguson’s Prosecuting Attorney, and the Attorney General of the United States of America’s office.
Michael Brown’s family, Ferguson, the nation, and even the world waited. The representative members of the Ferguson community rendered their conclusion—no indictment. The President called for America to honor the rule of Law and to express any disapproval peacefully. Brown’s Father pleaded for much the same. But then the community erupted in incendiary rage, while unsavory Al Sharpton stoked the emotional flames. Protest spread around the nation. The blogosphere and tweeter-world drew lines and launched verbal grenades, while the media lined up talking heads to tell us why.
Which leads me to a question, “What would Jesus want His church to do?” As those entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation, we are called “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God.” We are also called to love even our enemies, and to do all that we can to purse peace. In light of the Ferguson tragedy, what might that look like? Here are a few thoughts.
We can pray both for a grieving and angry family, and we can pray for a fearful and endangered police officer. We can pray for our President and lawmakers to review how law and justice are executed in urban and black communities and to implement better urban policing policies.
Those of us serving Christ in urban and black communities can double our efforts to help our troubled youth. Stats show that if every church adopted one child needing a home in urban contexts then all of the kids within our system would find a family! We can take a stance against violence-glorifying music, which is corrupting the minds of many of our children. We can reach out to teens who have unplanned pregnancies through pro-life clinics and get involved in Bible teaching abstinence programs. We can volunteer to minister in gospel preaching ministries that reach children in public schools like Child Evangelism Fellowship and Christian Released Time. We can un-isolate our black churches by engaging in the life of the universal church so that sons of former slaves and slave owners can learn to walk in brotherhood. I thank God that these efforts are actually happening. Through intentional multi-cultural church plants, Christian Hip-Hop music, spoken word poetry, and diverse urban young adult conferences, many young urban leaders have torn down yesterday’s walls of ethnic boundaries and are uniting the multi-colored body of Christ. Finally, speaking the truth in love and listening to one another is not an option. We have lost too many of our kids to immoral and violent life-styles. These are complex issues facing our nation and a divided church will only help a divided nation fall. Jesus died to raise up from His church peace-makers. Now is a great hour for all Christians to live up to our calling.
May God Help Us