May 25, 2013
Apr 13 - Kimberly Johnson
Sanford, Florida continues to be in the forefront of the news headlines these days. In the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the circumstances leading to George Zimmerman’s arrest, the atmosphere in Florida weighs in the balance - the balance of the justice system that is.
On April 12, 2012, I was invited to attend a meeting for pastors and ministry leaders in Lake Mary, Florida. This gathering, hosted by Pastor Paul Benjamin of the Dream Center in Sanford, was held to discuss how to facilitate healing in the central Florida region in light of the Martin/Zimmerman case. How should the Christian community come together to bring healing to this wound that has national repercussions? In four hours, the process of healing and reconciliation began to unfold before our eyes. History was made yesterday.
Dr. Raleigh Washington, President of Promise Keepers led the charge to create an environment of repentance and forgiveness in the community. He shared how this incidence has caused something that needs to be addressed in the Body of Christ. We must address division. He stated a few statistics about our problem: There are 34,000 denominations worldwide, 7% of people read their Bible on a regular basis, and 4% of the 15-30 year olds having a Biblical foundation. We are not unified.
“Sanford can cause awaking to the Body of Christ,” Dr. Washington stated. “God has called us in this hour to be radical spiritual leaders.” The question is this: What does oneness and one accord look like? Better yet, is central Florida willing to do whatever is necessary? He posed the question, “What if 12-15 pastors of the’ lighter hue’ asked for forgiveness?” Then he stated, “The ‘darker hue’ has to have a heart of forgiveness.”
Bishop Harry Jackson spoke about the Florida his father lived in as a young man. In 1954, a state trooper fired a shot at his father. The bullet went past him. This incident caused his father to flee the state to get away from the racial pressure. Bishop Jackson reminded us that on April 29, 2012 it will be the 20 year anniversary of the Rodney King incident that sparked the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. This one volatile moment in history caused 13,212 arrests, 2,383 human injuries and 54 deaths according to Jackson.
Here we are 20 years later with an atmosphere ready to ignite again. Why? Because we haven’t dealt with the injustice in our land. For the “darker hue” community, deaths like Trayvon Martin’s hits close to the heart. We should take the hint that there is still a large gaping hole in the fabric of unity in our nation. We must work together to bring healing to hurting in our land.
The historical moment I witnessed was when a 32-year-old pastor from Sanford stood up to lead the charge of unity amongst the Sanford clergy. Derrick Gay, by no choosing of his own, received a phone call from a local government official to attend a meeting following Martin’s death. Much to his surprise, he found himself in a room with a few select individuals in the community and the Martin family. He was able to minister to this hurting family in the midst of lawyers swarming around them. In a day, he became part of the answer to a pressing problem. Today, he has been given a charge to lead a movement that will heal his community.
One by one the Sanford pastors stood up next to Pastor Derrick. “We will be the Aaron and Hur to you,” they stated (Exodus 17:10). It was beautiful. It was multi-denominational. It was multi-colored. God’s healing team for Sanford was birthed in that moment. The wound of racial tension in Florida and our nation is being dressed once again. My prayer is that our land will be reconciled and restored.
How to pray:
Pray for this new formed alliance in Sanford.
- Ask the Lord to reveal strategies to bring healing and reconciliation to this hurting community.
- Pray for God’s hand of protection to be upon each minister, his/her home, family, ministry, etc.
- Pray that the Lord fills their mouths with the words to speak to their churches, neighbors and media.
- Declare Proverbs 3:5,6 over this team. Ask the Lord to direct their path and that they will not lean on their own understanding.
Pray for the Sanford community.
- Ask the Lord to healing the hearts of both families involved, the Martins and the Zimmermans.
- Declare peace to the streets of the city.
- Ask the Lord to bring healing to those who have been wounded by racial injustice.
- Pray for the wound that has been deepened by media coverage, that the Lord will soothe the hurts and foster an atmosphere of healing in the city.
Photo: Sanford Pastors, photo taken by Kimberly R. Johnson.