7 Prayer Leaders Across America Respond to Devastating Wave of Violence

When the issues at hand become undeniable, it can begin a dialogue—including among Christian believers who read from the same Bible yet at times see the world differently. Now several leading voices offer their perspectives on this past week's events.
When the issues at hand become undeniable, it can begin a dialogue—including among Christian believers who read from the same Bible yet at times see the world differently. Now several leading voices offer their perspectives on this past week's events. (Courtesy)

As headlines this past week scream phrases like "Under Siege" and "Civil War," the United States of America appears to be anything but united. Tragic incidents of violence have hit like a battering ram, one after another.

When the issues at hand become undeniable, it can begin a dialogue—including among Christian believers who read from the same Bible yet at times see the world differently. Now several leading voices offer their perspectives on this past week's events.

Marisa Lengor Kwaning, Senior Writer for Bound4LIFE

The black community in America is hurting. The callous losses of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota—followed by the revenge murders of five Dallas police officers—have added fresh wounds to a community intimately familiar with mourning.

This is a community that has Scriptures of comfort memorized like "Weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5); "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1); and "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18).

More than any other cause, the pro-life movement is uniquely equipped to come alongside our black brothers and sisters to collectively grieve over the shedding of innocent blood. The pro-life movement understands that we serve a God who hears the cries of bloodshed and demands justice for the innocent. We know a systemic injustice against black lives in America started long ago; now, because of advanced technology and social media, we are forced to confront what has always been.

Today more than ever, it's time to pray without ceasing, to bear one another's burdens, and to vigorously pursue community with people from all walks of life. This is where meaningful and lasting change begins.

Often covering international and human rights issues for Bound4LIFE, Marisa Kwaning also consults at Final Draft: Writing Services. She and her husband reside in the Washington, D.C., area.

Jared Olsen, Associate Director of International House of Prayer-Tallahassee

The violent events that have unfolded over the past week have further exposed the moral fault lines of our nation. This is heartbreaking. It seems these events shed light upon this fact: As a nation, we drastically undermine the value of human life across the board.

As a nation, we have condoned the shedding of innocent blood, from slavery to abortion. Truth, righteousness, justice, the preciousness of a human life; these have all taken a back seat in our culture of convenience and comfort. It is unsatisfactory that our culture ignores the violence done to the young black male in the womb and on the street corner.

God's mercy and love is the only thing that reaches deeper than our skin color and transforms the brokenness of our hearts. Now more than ever, may we join our hearts together and cast all our hope on God who sees, who hears and who longs to answer our prayer.

Jared Olsen serves as associate director of International House of Prayer-Tallahassee and Bound4LIFE regional coordinator. He and his wife, Karina, raise their daughter in Florida.

Maranda Gomes, Adoptive Mom in Dallas, Texas

As the white mother of a black teenage son, I have many thoughts regarding the racial division and violence in our nation—including the most recent events in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota. Many of these thoughts are personal. As my son with autism begins to look more like a man, I worry.

I worry that my son's actions might be misunderstood by a person of authority—given that there are no physical traits indicative of autism. What if he wanders away from me and then runs from the police, thinking it is a game? What if he reaches to pull his pants up, and he is misunderstood as reaching for a gun?" she asks. "Our society needs more understanding of autism, just as we do of historic racial injustice.

Here's the trouble: When our thoughts and worries are so deeply personal, it is easy to adopt an us versus them mentality. It's easy for us to forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We begin to see them as the enemy when there is a real, ancient enemy roaming about seeking to divide us and destroy our lives, relationships and nation.

It is important for those of us in the church to not allow the real enemy to divide us. We don't have to have an opinion about everything. We don't have to decide who's to blame in every situation. Satan is to blame, and the solution is with God. Let us focus our efforts on seeking Him for the answers.

Maranda Gomes and her husband, Ed, love being parents of five kids, including three by adoption. She wrote previously on God's call to love special needs children.

John Piper, Author and Bold Pro-Life Voice in the Pulpit

These events underline the vital necessity of embracing the reality, preciousness and power of truth in the public square at this moment. When a victim of injustice has no power, he still has something very precious. He has this transcendent truth: You should not do this to me. This is wrong.

Treasure this truth: Killing people because of race or nationality or religion or position in the mother's womb is wrong. A baby should not be killed simply because a stronger person chooses to have the baby eliminated.

That is a precious truth. Wherever a society ceases to treasure this truth, eventually violent elimination of unwanted humans happens. It has been happening to the unborn for a long time. And it is no secret that the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, prioritized the elimination of black babies. There may well be causal lines between the abortion of blacks and the aim to eliminate them in other ways. Such lines are drawn in the soul of a society.

Pastor John Piper serves as chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Remarks above have been excerpted from his full article.

Debby Efurd, Post-Abortive Woman Who Now Counsels Those in Crisis

Thursday evening news alerts began reporting another eruption of violence in our country. I thought to myself, This is tragic; Lord, is this our new normal? Then something caught my attention. The violence was happening in Dallas, my own backyard.

Hundreds scrambled for safety as police officers ran toward gunfire and into harm's way. The next day, I learned two of the slain officers were related to friends of mine. July 7 would be the deadliest day for police officers in our country since Sept. 11, 2001.

As a pro-life activist who cares deeply about lives in the womb as well as those torn asunder from the violence abortion creates everyday in our culture, I value life from the moment of conception throughout the human life span. I am concerned about every life lost, especially those taken through acts of violence.There is no one better than another, for we are all created equal in the image of God and all deeply loved by God.

The violence occurring around us is not a black, white or blue problem—the blood that is spilled is a red problem, and the solution is a heart condition that can be cured through Jesus Christ. Wounded people wound others. But on the flip side, healed lives heal others. Lord, let us be the example we want to see in this world.

Debby Efurd, author of Go Tell It!, which released in 2015, serves as president of Initiative 180. She and her family live in Dallas, Texas.

Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation

I can't breathe. I'm literally fighting back tears as I write, again, about this prevalent injustice. They don't see us as individual human beings, but a group to be exploited, separated and judged based on our pigmentation.

I'm talking about mainstream media and their manipulation of all Americans, corralling us into our respective color zones. They have a narrative to peddle. And we see it with every tragic account of black Americans killed by those tasked with the extremely dangerous job of serving and protecting. I'm repulsed by a news media that is hell-bent on fomenting a racial war.

Every agonizing death is one too many. We can mourn the loss of innocent lives—white, black and every hue in between. We can work to improve communities ravaged by daily violence with our prayers, our presence and our partnerships. Let's use words that speak life and affirm our equal, and irreplaceable, worth as human beings who happen to be beautifully adorned with different pigmentation.

Ryan Bomberger and his wife, Bethany, are co-founders of The Radiance Foundation, a nonprofit life-affirming organization. Remarks above are excerpted from his full article.

Natalie Brumfield, Foster Mom and Adoption Advocate

We must get on our knees, seek the face of Jesus and pray if we want change. Our nation needs true healing. There is a gaping gap existing in America that must be attended. Now is the time to stand in that gap and pray.

Standing in the gap in prayer is taking ownership of your nation's sin as your own. Repent on behalf of the evil, weep on behalf of those who did not weep, cry out on behalf of those who are murdered. Yes, there is a gawking gap existing in our nation. And in God's beautiful mercy, He allows us to stand in that gap as a wall of intercession on behalf of our people.

We need to rebuild the wall of reconciliation and hope beginning in our own cities, communities, churches, families and friendships. We need to teach our children so that they don't choose hate or death. Our nation needs the culture of life where we love our neighbor as ourselves and we believe in every circumstance that every human life is sacred.

Natalie Brumfield leads a local Bound4LIFE chapter in Birmingham, Alabama. She and her husband, Matthew, recently adopted their foster son Braxton.

Josh M. Shepherd currently serves in communications at Bound4LIFE International, a grass-roots movement to pray for the ending of abortion and for revival worldwide. He and his wife Terri live in the Washington, D.C., area.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4LIFE.

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