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Monday, July 22, 2013
Reconciliation Rallies Planned Across US After Zimmerman Verdict
steve and raleigh washington-small.jpg
Me (l) and Dr. Raleigh Washington

The George Zimmerman acquittal a week ago has brought to the surface racial divides in our country, and it’s time for believers in Jesus to get involved because the only answers are spiritual. There must be forgiveness, and mercy always triumphs over justice.

This case has always been personal to me because Trayvon Martin was killed 2.3 miles from my office. My younger son lives less than half a mile away in a similar gated townhouse community.

I’ve known for years that Sanford is a very divided community, and I’ve done what I could to help lessen those divides.

I’ve seen up close what’s happened here—strong emotions, hate-filled rhetoric, accusations and fear of racial unrest. I’ve also seen what happened when Christian leaders got involved.

The result? While there’s been unrest and even some rioting in cities all over America, Sanford, Fla.—where the shooting happened and the trial took place—has remained calm.

Many people were involved in the process to keep the peace, and no one group can take credit. But I believe something broke in the spiritual realm when pastors and leaders came together in April 2012 to dialogue, to pray and to then to speak out as unified spiritual leaders of the city. Remember the Bible says: We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.

You can see what happened in a documentary we produced called Sanford: The Untold Story. It’s untold because the mainstream media plays up the tension and division and the agendas of those some call "race-baiters." The media also is not aware or looks the other way when it comes to the spiritual aspect of problems in our country.

But you can see what happened when Bishop Harry Jackson of High Impact Ministries and Dr. Raleigh Washington of Promise Keepers came to town to see what they could do to help. In one eventful and perhaps historic afternoon, pastors came together at a meeting I hosted in our offices in Lake Mary, Fla., to seek God on solutions for our divided community. Dr. Washington, who has been involved in racial reconciliation in countries all over the world, says he’s never seen anything like it.

Now it’s time to do this all over the country.

I’m starting an initiative to do what we did in Sanford—hold racial reconciliation meetings hosted by respected pastors from both the black and white communities. The meetings would be designed for people to listen to each other and to understand the pain that is obviously there. But also, they should provide spiritual leadership for each community, showing that only Jesus is the answer.

In my own way, I’ve been doing this since high school when I was calling for understanding in editorials in my high school paper during the days of desegregation, around the time of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And if you’ve read Charisma, you’ve seen how we’ve covered the black community and dealt with the issues of racism in our culture and in the church—the most recent was a special issue in June 2012, partly as a result of the reaction to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, which you can read here.

Our nonprofit partner Christian Life Missions is taking the lead ...

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