What Ferguson Taught Us: Laid Bare Before the WorldBlog / Produced by The High Calling
This summer has felt turbulent. The violence and unrest around the world have kept me up at night praying, and aching.
In the midst of daily life, I find myself soaking in the stories and statistics of real people around the world: Gaza, Iraq, ebola in West Africa. In between loads of laundry, taking the kids on adventures, and fixing dinner, my heart cries out to God: Come, Lord Jesus. Heal our lands. Bring peace. Bring your reconciliation.
Then, one day, Michael Brown was killed. And it wasn't across the world, but 23.5 miles from our house.
A slumbering giant awakened in our city.
The past two weeks have been full in Ferguson and around St. Louis. I know no other way to say it succinctly. They have been full.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time in Ferguson and to join writers connected to The High Calling. They came to Ferguson to hear and honor the stories of the people here.
Friday night, we attended a public forum where we heard from leaders in the community (reaching beyond Ferguson to the rest of St. Louis) and community members alike. Saturday, we spent time by the site where Michael was killed. There were many voices speaking, and though they were disjointed in methodology, they were united about the necessity for change.
The issues at stake in Ferguson (and for that matter in Gaza, West Africa, Iraq, and around the world) are large, and they have the tendency to make a person feel small, helpless, and exhausted. Sometimes, that helpless feeling leads to a bit of spiritual paralysis.
Before Michael Brown died, I had been thinking about how little I had to offer, and was reminded of the incredulousness of Peter when Jesus wanted them to feed the masses: “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
And do you remember the story of Naaman, and the servant girl who saved him? She was neither big nor powerful in her own milieu. Think of the time God called for a small army to defeat a large one. Or, how about when God used women in cultures which thought nothing of their value as human beings?
It seems God has a tendency to use small and ostensibly insignificant actions and people.
Biblically speaking, it seems we are at our best when we are small. "His strength is made perfect in our weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When we are feeling small, we are at a great point to join God in what he is doing.
Seeing God's work through smallness leads me to know I don't have to fear my own limitations. Instead, in the words of Brennan Manning, I can "simply do the next thing in love."
Michael Brown gave us the gift of laying us bare to the world. I don't have a solution. I'm not sure anyone does. But his life and death matter more than just to close family and friends.
For Christians in my city, my prayer is, "Your Kingdom come here." I pray we move towards that Kingdom and out of stagnant apathy.
For Christians around the country and around the globe, I pray we are able to care about what is going on in our city. I pray we care about Michael Brown, his friends and family, and others who are grieving and scared. I pray that we care about Darren Wilson, because his life matters to Jesus as well.
I pray that God gives us a heart to love the other "side." Because that is what will make us stand out in faith. They will know we are Christians by our love, which defies all logic.
As I left Canfield Drive, where Michael Brown died, a young man—probably Michael's age—held up a sign that said, "I do not feel safe in my own skin in this country." That matters. I hope we can really care about the brokenness and ugliness.
What if we each turn our eyes toward our own cities? Where can we each move with gentle boldness to bring forth the Kingdom? Gentle, because we are not called to "fix" other people, and we need to ask questions and work together. That requires an intense amount of gentleness. But bold, because there is no room for fear or apathy or hiding anymore.
The church has remained silent in many ways through the years, and I sense a fresh movement of God, making us uncomfortable and calling us to change.
Kristi has had the opportunity to work alongside ministries in Chile, Mexico, and Minneapolis. Now as a stay at home mom, Kristi writes, photographs, blogs, and paints to communicate everyday glories in the face of the ordinary. She currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and their two children, and is finishing her certification in Spiritual Direction.
What Ferguson Taught Us About Hope
Last weekend, The High Calling and several others visited Ferguson, Missouri, to listen. We heard stories from pastors, police, and members of the community. All week, we are sharing what we learned from this experience in a bonus theme What Ferguson Taught Us, chronicling everything from our time with Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol to our time with people on the street.
" … hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5
Featured image of gentlemen our team met in Ferguson (in front of a really cool van) by Deidra Riggs. Used with permission.