Archives for category: Ferguson

Every Monday a scripture portion arrives in my email.

Major Israel Velazquez sends it.  Major Israel is a retired Salvation Army Officer.  He  and his wife, Major Wilma, served many years in some of the Midwest’s largest cities.  Their ministry was Salvation Army programs for adults with substance abuse problems.

This morning this verse came and right away I knew what it was saying to me.

ACTS 26:16;18 (VOICE)

Get up now, and stand upright on your feet. I have appeared to you for a reason. I am appointing you to serve Me. You are to tell My story and how you have now seen Me, and you are to continue to tell the story in the future. It will be your mission to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. This is so that they may receive forgiveness of all their sins and have a place among those who are set apart for a holy purpose through having faith in Me.”

Earlier at breakfast Gail and I talked about what happened on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.  Witnesses strongly disagree on some points.

But on one point the most reliable witnesses agree that Michael Brown charged at Officer Darren Wilson.

What in the world was going on in Michael Brown’s head?

We will never really know.  But Gail and I feel we have a better than average guess what was going on.  Michael Brown had enough.

Sure, there is a supporting cast of contributing factors. Petty larceny.  Tensions in and unique to Ferguson.  Decades-long tensions in America between its powers-that-be and American people who have no part in the America of those powers.  I’m sure you can add to the list.

But he had enough.

There is no other explanation for why in the middle of a hot summer day a black man would run down the middle of the street directly at a white policeman holding a gun.

He’d had enough.

***

 

“open their eyes.”  It’s my responsibility to open their eyes.  Maybe your responsibility too.

There are many people in America who do not see.  They don’t understand the oppressive weight on those who do not have a place in America.  They do not see the overt and covert oppression visited on individuals, families, communities.  They don’t know, really know, people who live with this weight.  They don’t get it.

We have a responsibility.  We are to open their eyes.  That they might turn from darkness to light and from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God.

In turning comes forgiveness of sin.  In turning they find a place.  Not in the systems and structures of this world’s powers.  They may already be in those places.

‘place’ in Jesus’ words, later recounted by the Apostle Paul when forced to stand as a prisoner before authorities, is a place where God’s people discover they are set apart for a holy purpose.  God’s purpose for his people.  To talk of.  To live for.  To bring full life to human beings.  “I have come that they may have life” (John 10:10).  God calls his people to join his mission.

We have a responsibility.

To people who have just gotten too tired of it all.  Had enough.

We have a responsibility for people who don’t get it.  Whose eyes need to be opened.

People on both sides of the road.

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Sometimes it’s Fritos.  Sometimes it’s Cheetos.  Doritos, always in third place.

This evening when I saw the photo of Kierra and John S. serving at a Salvation Army canteen counter, my eyes voted Cheetos.  Tonight I feel more cheesy than freezy.

Here’s the photo and a few words from the Urban Mission Center about a Ferguson experience last August for Temple House folks.  BTW, I do miss John S. who’s back in Colorado before his next urban adventure.  Dr. Who.UMC logo

If you haven’t seen yet here’s a set of photos from last Sunday’s graffiti at the KFC in Ferguson.

Last Sunday a small group of young adults was quietly at work in Ferguson MO.

December 1 2014 004

Several of our folks from Temple Houses in Benton Park West spent most of Sunday performing authorized graffiti at the boarded up Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Nov 2014 in Ferguson (5)

I like this creative framing of the drive-up window.  Is that Banksy inspired?

Nov 2014 in Ferguson (3)

Sir Gabriel, Elysia, Charlene and Cheryl.  They joined others in this creative window of opportunity.  To help turn anxiety into hope.

December 1 2014 003

December 1 2014 001

Temple Houses is a missional community of young adults living in St Louis’ Benton Park West neighborhood.  They serve together as part of The Salvation Army’s Urban Mission Center.  Since August they have been serving in various ways in Ferguson.  Next month they will be learning at Urban Youth and The Leaders Who Love Them.  You are welcome to join them for this workshop at the Temple Corps, 2740 Arsenal Street, St Louis MO.

BTW, Gail and I are headed for a home on Arsenal Street.  We patiently sit with our packing boxes.  Hope sometime this spring to be in Temple Houses.  We are a little bit older than the TH community but they are making an exception for us.

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