Last week was quite a volatile week in the city of Milwaukee. As many of us saw on various media outlets from the comforts of our living rooms, there were angry crowds and the burning of buildings in the neighborhood of Sherman Park. This followed the police shooting of a black man. People were horrified and many offered opinions and views in support of or in criticism of those participating. I was asked, as a black woman, what I felt. While I don’t feel my opinion is the focus of this blog, one way or other, I do feel there was something quite remarkable that came out of the aftermath that we need to pay attention to.
What I saw was a rising up of believers and an outpouring of love and compassion. The very next day, people came and they prayed and they cleaned the neighborhood. Faith showed up! People rallied together in prayer and in belief that no matter what had happened, what would happen, God was and still is in control. The crowd was diverse and it was united. There were residents of the neighborhood and people from surrounding communities and suburbs. Many of whom were strangers whose hearts were broken for the people of Sherman Park. That is who we are as people. That is who we need to be.
I could care less what people feel about the protesters. I could care less what people feel about the situation. There are a lot of keyboard cowards out there who hide behind social media to spew their biased opinions and hate. And personally, it gets weary seeing it. What I care about is the fact that as a believer in Jesus Christ, what am I doing? We are all called to respond in some manner. We are empowered through the Holy Spirit to not sit on the side lines but to be active in our faithfulness to the Father in making a difference. What does that difference look like?
Here are some ways:
- Are you praying for change? For peace, protection and provision for the people of Milwaukee? For this world? For all people? As a believer, this is vital. Don’t tell yourself there is nothing I can do. Prayer is our first offense not our last defense. There is power in prayer. Start living like you believe it!
- Are you asking the Father to show you ways you can make a difference? You don’t have to necessarily show up in Sherman Park to effect change. Lord knows, Milwaukee is not isolated. If you pay attention, our whole world is pretty much a mess right now, even if it does not seem to be affecting you personally right now. Make a change where you are. Reach out, be open, and show the love of the Father to those around you. Be nice to somebody today, whether you feel they are deserving or not. Lord knows, we are not deserving of the mercy and grace that the Father shows us, so how in the world can we feel others are not deserving?
- Are you fueling the flames of hatred by joining in the conversations around you or are you shutting them down when you hear them? Stand up for what is right. Stand up for kingdom behavior. Ask yourself, “Is my opinion in alignment with kingdom principles?”. If not, you have some work to do on yourself before you put your opinion out there. We all have pain. The way I express mine may may look very different from the way you express yours. But listen….it is pain that is being expressed. If I hear one more person say, “Why would they burn down their own neighborhood?” I think I might scream. Pray for a broken heart for people and then shape your views from their walk and not necessarily from yours. The problem we have today is we see and hear, form our opinions and move forward from there. We do not take it further. We are judge, jury and executioner of others way too much.
I am proud of the people who turned out and prayed for healing. I am proud of all who prayed throughout and continue to pray, wherever they may be. I am proud of those who do not sit back and give their opinion, but rather try to see others through the eyes of God. What the world saw was an acknowledgement of who God is. We, who are called by his name, may lose a battle at times, from our perspective, but we will persevere, for we know the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. We will overcome and we will be faithful in our prayers for this world, for that is what we are called to do. So I challenge you to look for the many good things that have come out of Sherman Park and realize God is a work in the hearts of people.