The Optimistic Christian
Grace Takes a Stand in Sanford, Florida
If I did nothing more in this column than point readers to this video, in which a group of pastors from Sanford, Florida speaks in mid-April of reconciliation and healing after the Trayvon Martin killing, it would probably be enough.
The press opportunity was arranged by Steve Strang of Charisma, whose offices are less than three miles from the site of the incident. He writes about the press conference that he had no idea if it would get attendance and he was surprised when so many media representatives showed up. He also says this: "I was more amazed at how the Holy Spirit seemed to guide each speaker."
Watching the video, I was equally amazed. It is as if God had a special "word" for each of the pastors to deliver: words about healing, hope, reconciliation, mercy, unity, compassion, and love. Strang may have had a premonition that this event would be one of such grace. He says this about the meetings in the days leading up to it (emphasis added):
The topic of Trayvon's killing came up, but both black and white pastors spoke of wanting reconciliation and healing—not marches and protests. They talked about how Sanford has been prayed over and even prophecies have been given about how revival would come out of Sanford. It was a very different sentiment than what I was hearing in the news media, which was quoting the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defence as calling for racial violence if they didn't feel justice was done.
Then on April 6 I joined about 60 local pastors who met for a specially called Good Friday prayer service at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, the oldest church in Sanford. Both black and white pastors gave wonderful talks and prayed prayers asking for God's mercy and forgiveness and healing.
But even he was unprepared for the spiritual power of the press conference. I was unprepared for it as well. I've written a couple of times about expecting a better response to Trayvon's tragic death than the news media are depicting, and I was vectored onto the Charisma-sponsored press conference by the information that Bishop Harry Jackson, leader of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, was in Florida praying with dozens of local pastors for healing and mercy (see here as well). So I did expect to hear good news. But in characterizing my reaction to the video, I have to say that—to use the slang expression—it just blew me away. It seems God still has a few tricks up His sleeve.
Two particular things occur to me about this. One is prompted by Timothy Dalrymple's lovely remembrance of a prison-ministry event in a Philosophical Fragments post commemorating Charles Colson's death. Tim says:
Chuck Colson . . . had sinned on a massive scale. He was brought from the loftiest of heights to the most profound depths. And in the midst of his humiliation, he found a community of believers who had nowhere else to go but to the gospel. When I think of Chuck Colson's legacy, I will think of a living parable of how Christ's grace redeems even those the world called unredeemable.
J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval intelligence officer and evangelical Christian. She retired in 2004 and blogs from the Inland Empire of southern California. She writes for Commentary's CONTENTIONS blog, Hot Air's Green Room, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.