On the night of the Milwaukee riots, my heart sank seeing the pictures and hearing the news. To be honest, Sunday morning I felt so discouraged that I didn’t even feel like showing up at church, let alone worshipping…but I’m a pastor, so I had to. It was hard to explain the funk I was feeling.
After church, people from epikos headed down to Sherman Park. The intent was simply to help clean up, pray, and be a positive presence in the aftermath. I started bumping into friends, pastors, and ministry leaders from the Milwaukee area: City Brook, Parklawn Assembly of God, Eastbrook, Captive Project, and Cru, to name a few. There were even people coming from churches outside the city, I ran into many from Elmbrook Church (This is just naming a few that I personally know and saw there, I know there were many more!). I also started bumping into pastors and church goers from the neighborhood that I have never met before. It seemed as if all the believers were descending upon Sherman Park!
Confession: Prayer circles large and small were transpiring all over the Sherman Park area. Here’s a confession, and I really hope this isn’t taken out of context or used against me at some later point: while praying for God to intervene and for His glory to be made known in our city, my cynical side was doubting that any unity, reconciliation, peace, trust, or progress could come out of this current situation. Being honest, I was bracing for rioting to be worse in the coming nights.
I’m not sure if everyone realizes it, and I’m still trying to wrap my head and heart around it, but what happened in Milwaukee is different than the riots in other cities. At least from my perspective, the riots in other cities seemed to escalate each night and the tensions increased as each day passed. It feels different in Milwaukee this week. Am I condoning the riot? No, not at all! However, the unique thing that the Milwaukee riot exposed is that there are lots of people who love our city, want to address racism and racial disparity, and are willing to work hard at it over the long haul. Even the news is covering these stories. It’s noteworthy to see the people from the neighborhood, city leaders, and the collection of churches and believers coming together. I’m not just trying to put a positive spin on a bad situation, nor am I trying to minimize that there are still major race issues that need to be worked on. I’m simply expressing that in the midst of all the junk there is a visible glimmer of hope that is being exposed. I wanted to share some of these stories with you (see news links below) in case you haven’t seen them so that hope can continue to grow and spread. Please paste links of other positive stories in the comments or suggest them to be added to this post so that we can keep this going in the right direction. To Him be the Power and Glory Forever, Amen.