Human beings are, at one and the same time, created in God’s image and likeness, and separated from God because of their sin. And the more human beings you have located in the same place, the more obvious those two realities become.
Living within the shadow of Baltimore, Md. for over a decade, I can recall many moments when that great city has reflected the very glory of God. But this morning, I am heartbroken, because as the rest of the world observes the riots that currently threaten the peace of this wonderful city, they are witnessing how truly depraved we can be.
Last night, Baltimore suffered from a significant and self-inflicted wound. In a scene that defines the perfect storm created by racist history, corruption, lawlessness, distrust and violence, our city revealed itself as being under demonic influence.
That’s what you watched on CNN last night. But what you didn’t see is how God is already at work among the chaos. What happened on the cross is itself testimony to the fact that God is often most highly glorified in the midst of chaos, confusion, deep depravity and anger. And underneath the surface of the coverage national media are giving to this city, He is doing it again!
Last night, rival gang members who committed to join each other to hunt down and kill white police officers agreed to meet with Baltimore area pastors, who spoke to them of a peaceful, orderly approach to justice informed by a gospel message that can bring peace and order to their souls.
This morning, pastor Tally Wilgis and the wonderful people of Captivate Church are feeding kids. In an area of the city where 84 percent of the children are on a free or reduced lunch program, when school is cancelled, they don’t eat. So the body of Christ is feeding more than 100 of them.
Pastor Brad O’Brien and the folks at Jesus our Redeemer are currently coordinating help and aid to the hundreds of police officer, firefighters and National Guard personnel that will be setting our city back in order.
Pastors Mike Crawford, Joel Kurz, Dan Hyun and many others opened their church facilities so that God’s people could pray, frightened citizens could find refuge and the church could begin forming a response to serve this city that Jesus died to save.
These are just a few things that took place last night. God was, and continues to be, at work in mighty ways. History tells us that moments of spiritual awakening are often preceded by societal chaos. Our network of churches – many of which are found within Baltimore’s city limits – believe with all our hearts that this is God’s desire. And we know this because in the midst of bloodshed, we are reminded through the cross that Jesus Himself was the first to bleed for this city.
So as strife and unrest continue to threaten Baltimore, our churches are running toward that need, and taking with them the greatest story of reconciliation in all of human history!
Want to help us? Please point everyone in your church here. Every dollar donated will be channeled directly to Baltimore area churches for the exclusive purpose of helping them serve the city, and bring reconciliation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My friend and colleague Mike Crawford said it best last night. “Satan wants our city, and he can’t have it!”
As other opportunities for service in Baltimore continue to develop, you can contribute right now to help these men and their churches bring true peace.
It is time to love Baltimore!
Again, the link is here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joel Rainey is the lead strategist for engagement with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network/Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. This article first appeared at his blog, joelrainey.blogspot.com)