By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
ST. LOUIS/FERGUSON, MO (ANS) –We have all witnessed the extraordinary scenes from the streets of Ferguson, a city in St. Louis County, Missouri, over the past several days, wondering what could be done to bring calm, peace, and civil treatment on all sides back to this small city.
But there is also good news: the Church is responding to the crisis.
Christian Emergency Network (CEN) Founder and President Mary Marr, has interviewed Pastor Robert Loggins, Executive Director of Mission Metro St. Louis and a city missionary for 38 years.
An African-American, born in Winona, Miss., but considers Laurel, Miss., his hometown, he shared that in the midst of the looting, escalating violence, finger pointing, and with media lights on full throttle in Ferguson and parts of St. Louis, the Hope of Christ is shining ever brighter!
She began by asking him what was the overall situation in the area from a Christian worldview?
“Ferguson and St. Louis are not unlike other cities in the U.S. We suffer from the same divisions which often separate the body of Christ. But there is an invitation from Jesus Christ to the Christians of these two cities right now to be Light in the midst of this darkness. Only Jesus can do what needs to be done to right the wrongs and to heal the land,” he said.
“The Lord Himself is bringing the Light of Jesus Christ in the midst of the pain and the turbulence in the area. He is inspiring unity through the many prayer gatherings and is moving us toward acts of loving kindness toward each other, as well as toward the Brown family and all those who are confused and hurting. We are able to put our arms around the anxious and the fearful with the Hope of God.
“I pray the Lord would penetrate the radiant Light of Jesus Christ through His followers here that would spread across this nation.”
How are Christians praying, caring, and sharing the Hope of Christ in the area?
“We have had lots of humble prayer meetings, beginning at the First Baptist Church Ferguson, then St. Marks, and tomorrow prayer meetings will be held in North County Ferguson/Moline area. Each group is sending out prayer info within their own network on this,” said Pastor Loggins.
“Prayer meetings are continuing with calls to unite in prayer for healing in the city. The Christian leaders within our community have issued a challenge to all Christians to participate in inter denominational prayer gatherings with calls to action. Bishop Scott of Word Fellowship Church, one of the largest African-American churches in area, is calling Christians to unite their voices and begin a dialog of repentance reminding them of the Scripture, ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land.'”
He went on to say, “After Pastor Joe at First Baptist Church Ferguson held an excellent prayer meeting, his church got with other churches in the area and started cleaning up the community and helping the businesses by not only cleaning up, but apologizing on behalf of those who had damaged their property.
“There is a lot of hurt and shame here, but this situation does not reflect our city. Rather, we are feeding and helping the needy with clothes. And one ministry group is giving $20,000 in scholarships to the other members of the Brown family. There is an out-pouring of compassion from all ethnic areas. St. Louis is a divided city, but Christians are seeing this as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in action. We may not be doing it at the level of excellence all the time, but His heart is moving us in St. Louis. Serve St. Louis and other ministries like it here, are doing so much, and yet they do not advertise themselves.
“We are sharing information in St. Louis [and Ferguson] as well as sharing resources to open the door for the Gospel to be seen. We are witnessing things happening through relationships we have not previously seen, which have allowed us to present the plan of salvation to people who are coming to churches.
“We are seeing people who are more desperate, who may not have anything directly to do with the incident, come forth saying they are fearful or have a need. Teens are coming asking for help with their family problems, or police are coming asking for prayer and comfort in dealing with their many challenges. We are just lovin’ on people. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, we have seen Christians re-dedicate their lives to Christ. Lots of good stuff.”
“God has been speaking to America,” said Pastor Loggins. “It is not the same America as what I saw growing up. God has been speaking and America is not listening. How we treat Jewish families – we are not listening. Congress and the President are not listening. Pastors, often, we are not listening! Proverbs 7 reminds us it is not about the seekers but about the believers God is speaking to. Yes, groups are coming into our city and tearing the city down, and some may be of other convictions as well.
“But this is a wakeup call. And if we do not answer His phone call and give God the right info on what we have done wrong or what we are going to do about the matter, more will come.
“We are told righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach unto God; so our sin and disobedience are because we are not sharing the Gospel right here where we find ourselves, in a nation with the largest mission field that exists because we are not sharing our faith in Christ. We need to come to the end of ourselves, stop focusing on buildings and numbers in the pew, and expand the Gospel by leading others into a saving knowledge of God.
“I was taught how to love God and share His love at an early age in the midst of the projects filled with drugs and all sorts of problems, yet my life was untouched by these things. And why? Because my Aunt had walked faithfully before me and showed me the way.
“If God’s people are to be the presence of God, they must be marinated into His being, then the racial, economic, educational, all these issues which we focus upon will be resolved. We need to produce fruit from the bottom up, not top down, as we have been prone to do in the church today. Come to the end of yourself. Get back to forming disciples!”