In May of 2020, I remember standing in my dining room, fielding calls from various Christian leaders in our city. That evening, we were planning our first citywide prayer protest (called The Wall - check out www.civilrighteousness.org) and we were beginning to hear rumbles of counter-protests potentially breaking out. The body of Christ was coming together to silently pray and protest at five different sites around our city. My prayer was that no matter where people were driving on that evening, they would see the Church stepping up to the plate and taking a stand for righteousness and justice. Although I had led a couple of small “walls” in the past, this was the first time my friends and I had organized a large one for our city.
You can imagine then, how hard it was when respected leaders began calling me to see if we were cancelling the prayer protest. They were themselves receiving intel about the threat of violence, even sharing how a Molotov cocktail was supposedly found under a truck in front of the court house. (That was the location I would be at. Yikes!) They were feeling the pressure from their sources about potential violence breaking out if the Church gathered to silently pray. No judgment from me - I knew they wanted to keep their people safe. But quite honestly, those calls were whittling away at my courage. Were we making the right decision?
I was frustrated. You can imagine how small and weak I felt, trying to discern what the Lord was speaking to us. So many loud voices, but what was the Lord saying? I knew we needed to take a stand - that we couldn’t let the forces of this world dictate when and where the Church could boldly pray. But in that moment, I just felt so nervous and afraid.
Something powerful transpired over the next two hours or so. I began calling some of my African American pastor friends, asking for wisdom as to how we should proceed. And the most amazing thing happened, they each began to encourage me and even preach to me about what God was speaking in this hour. The word of God, coming through their lips, strengthened my resolve to move forward. I remember listening with tears streaming down my cheeks. God was saying, “Go!”
And for those that don’t remember, we did end up doing The Wall in four locations with almost 500 people participating. All of our prayer protests were peaceful, saturated with the presence of God. At the court house, we concluded with communion and impromptu, unplugged worship, and the preaching of the gospel. Such a powerful time for those that gathered and for those that watched.
I’ve been thinking about that day this morning as I contemplate how the Lord has chosen to encourage me recently. Just a week ago, I was sitting under a tent on Chicago’s south side while a Christian leader was preaching about how God provides what we need when we need it. There was something so powerful about hearing his personal story of provision that my tears just flowed, un-beckoned, creating rivulets down my cheeks. I knew God was saying, “Go! I got you!”
And then, just this past Monday, I was speaking with one of my closest friends on the phone. He literally felt led to re-preach to me the highlights of his Sunday message. I know that the message was meant for a certain congregation, but in that moment, it felt like it was intended just for me. Everything he preached was exactly what I need to hear in this hour of transition. And again, the unsolicited tears came. And so did the strength. God was saying, “Go! I am with you!”
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.