In the past three weeks we’ve had 4 shootings and 1 stabbing in our neighborhood.  This highly unusual for our area of the city. The police are telling me that the escalation of violence is most likely due to a war between rival drug gangs.  Personally, this really hits home because the most recent shooting took place less than 100 yards from my house and it was in the middle of the day at a time when Angie and my kids could have easily been out on the street.  

This outbreak of violence has lead me to a variety of emotions.  I am saddened by the senselessness of this violence. I am angry at the effect of drugs has on a community.  And there have been moments of fear for my family’s safety. More than anything, though, I am filled with fresh gratitude that God has called us to be here with boots on the ground and roots in the soil.  Where there is darkness, God sends his people to bring the light of his love. The Christian response is never to retreat, never to give up, never to let fear win. We are called to press in and press on for the cause of Christ.  And I can think of no better way to work out that calling then to pray.

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.  But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2Th 3:1-5 ESV)

I’m calling on our church, and other Christians in our neighborhood, to gather at Dickinson Square Park next Sunday March 3rd at 4pm.  I’ll lead us in praying together and then I want us to split into small groups and walk the blocks of our neighborhood and pray. Let’s show up and show our neighbors, our children, and those perpetrating this violence that these blocks belong to Jesus and these acts have no place in His Kingdom.  Let’s push back Satan and his demons with the weapon God has given us; the power of praying in His Spirit. May we continue to believe what the love of God and steadfastness of Christ can accomplish.

O Church, arise and put your armor on;

Hear the call of Christ our captain;

For now the weak can say that they are strong

In the strength that God has given.

With shield of faith and belt of truth

We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;

An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”

Reaching out to those in darkness.   

Standing with you in hope,

Pastor Jeff