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A Pastor’s Response to Last Week’s Tragedies

Posted on July 11th, 2016 by Pastor Corey


Twenty years ago when I was in Bible College, I did a summer ministry in a small town in Alabama. I was a Yankee from Ohio who had never spent a lot of time in the South and my eyes were opened to a prejudice I had never experienced before. Now, I had experienced bigotry in Ohio.  Family members would make comments about African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and other “non-white” people. It was part of my upbringing and I try to this day to not even think of others in the way I had heard while growing up… but to be honest, it can be difficult.

When I was in Alabama I heard things and saw things I thought were from the 50’s and 60’s. The town had an all-white country club, the local public high school had a “white’s only” prom (Held the weekend after the “regular” prom), and at the church I worked at I met a woman who would never shake hands or hug a “colored” person. This was only twenty years ago.  This was not mid-century racism that led to the civil rights movement and the abolishment of Jim Crow laws. This was not long ago.

In the wake of last week’s shootings, a national politician said, “If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.” This politician said it took him years to come to this understanding, and I agree with him. I will never understand what it means to be an African-American, or for that matter the issues or problems of any other race than what I am. I also cannot completely understand the personal history of African-Americans being discriminated against, lynched, and enslaved. And I cannot deny the fact that thousands of African-Americans live in a cycle of poverty that keeps them in a different type of bondage, or that black families live in fear of what may happen to their sons and daughters, or that the perception of black America is that some things have changed in our country, but it is not enough and racism is still prevalent.

I don’t write this to make white people feel bad or to condone any type of violence we saw last week. I don’t write this to agree with protesters and divisive politicians, or to blame cops for the deaths of young black males. I write these things because there are genuinely complicated race issues in our country, and many in our church and around the United States are fearful for the future. The answer to these problems is not in our government, but only in the local Church.

As the church, we need to demonstrate Christ’s love to ALL nations, to ALL peoples, and to ALL colors. We need to serve like Christ served. As Russell Moore wrote over the weekend, “we need to model unity,” and ask ourselves if our church looks like “the people in our mission field.” Moore continued:

“In a time of fear, God has called the church to be courageous. Many are fearful that the violence we’ve seen is a sign of a fracturing American social fabric. That may well be. Even so, we are part of a social order that transcends and will outlast the American one (Phi. 3:20-21). We can pray for our country with concern and yet do that not as the pagans do, who have no hope.”

This week as your favorite news channel reports on protests, and riots, and possibly more violence, would you go to God in prayer? Pray for the following:

  1. For those affected by the violence of last week: the families of the young black males, and the police officers who died. Pray that your heart would be broken and you would “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
  2. For your own heart and prejudices. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you if you do not honestly see all races as equal as God sees them. If you are fearful, ask God to give you a spirit of “power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
  3. For our country. Pray for our government leaders and police officers that God would give them wisdom. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  4. Pray for our church. Pray we would display unity that reflects our local community. Pray that our church would be a place where everyone can come to worship and serve, no matter ethnicity or background. Pray that the peace of God would dwell in our church. (John 14:27)
  5. Pray that people of all races, colors, nationalities, and languages would realize a sense of safety that God has given through his perfect grace.  Pray that our children would see that our sincere unity is grounded on our common faith in Jesus Christ and that division based on how we were created is wrong.  (Proverbs 29:25)

I hope to share more on these issues this week through our blog. As you begin praying would you pass this on to other Canyon Hills people and encourage them to read it? Let us continue to focus on heavenly things and not on the things of this world.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Corey, great word.  I will share this with Northlake Church in Bellingham.

By Darlene Logan on 07/14/2016

Great word Corey!

By Brian Ricci on 07/11/2016

Yes, I will pray that God would give us eyes to see one another as He sees us and to love them with an unconditional love…so help us God!

By pat wesner on 07/11/2016

Love this!  Well written, inclusive, free of blame, free of division.  We must indeed love ALL as Christ does if we are to be ONE church. 
I attended elementary school in Montgomery in the mid-1970s and have some troubling memories too.  Thank you for offering this to our community and for helping us pray for unity, service and peace.

By Jeff Merrill on 07/11/2016

So perfectly, wonderfully said. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for great direction in prayer.

By Ingrid cox on 07/11/2016