I’ve grieved as I’ve watched the news streaming out of Ferguson this week.
We don’t know exactly what happened in the street that afternoon. Some accounts paint a portrait of a young man shot in the moment of surrender. Others describe an officer who had no option but to pull the trigger as a man who had already assaulted him and tried to take his weapon rushed him at full speed. Perhaps the truth, as it so often does, lies somewhere in between.
But we have seen a community in grief. Yes, some have taken advantage of the turmoil to loot and destroy. Sinful nature shouldn’t surprise us. Yet we need to listen to the outcry. Listen. Because there are things about the black experience that I as a white woman will never fully understand:
- I’ve never been pulled over and wondered if it was for any reason other than my lead foot.
- It’s never occurred to me to warn my blue-eyed, blond haired boy about wearing a hoodie.
- I’ve never feared that people would judge my children by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.
And yet these are the experiences of many of our neighbors. In 2014 America prejudice is real. Privilege is real. And we all interpret events through the light of our experience.
Yet where there is Christ, there is hope.
It wasn’t that long ago that Jena, Louisiana, was in the news much as Ferguson has been this week. After the small 3000 person community was rocked by racial tensions at the high school, the national spotlight fell on Jena as 20,000 people descended on the town to protest. We’ve come to recognize the pattern. But what happened next was extraordinary.
Jena broke out in revival.
Real revival–not the once-a-year, four nights of meetings, and a potluck kind of revival. God showed up. Black churches and white churches worshiped together. Some nights they didn’t even have preaching because the presence of God was so strong. God moved among the people and brought reconciliation. The community was transformed.
We have hope, because this is what our God does. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13-14). Christ is our peace. He destroys the barriers, tearing down the dividing wall. He gives us the ministry of reconciliation, for the only way we can be reconciled to one another is to first be reconciled to Him.
The hope for Jena is the hope for Ferguson and is the same hope for us: Jesus. He is the one to whom we must look. He is the one who forgives our sins and heals our brokenness. He is the one who transforms us, who reminds us to live like image-bearers and not hate speakers. He is the one who overcomes the barriers between Jew and Gentile, male and female, black and white. He is the lifter of heads and the restorer of hearts, and he is the one who longs to bring all the prodigals back home.
And so this week as the news from Ferguson continues, I’d ask you to pray. Pray for Michael Brown’s family in their grief. Pray for Darren Wilson and his family. Pray for safety for police and protesters. Pray for God to raise up peacemakers and gospel-proclaimers. Pray that Christ Jesus will be peace for Ferguson.
And for us.