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Praying Pastors Bravely Defuse Racial Tension

I once heard Charles Galbreath, a pastor of Clarendon Road Church in Brooklyn, tell the story of a black man gunned down by police in his neighborhood. Anger seethed in the neighborhood. Frustration from years of racial oppression was about to erupt in violence. Many people lined up to march down the main street while police gathered, expecting violence.

Charles and a group of pastors rushed to the gathering place and found themselves caught in the middle between the police and the people. Tensions were rising. Insults were being hurled across the divide. One side picked up rocks, the other side clutched their guns. The pastors feared for their lives; bullets could fly at any moment.

Galbreath said that some of the pastors spontaneously walked into the middle of the street between the two warring parties, bowed their heads, and started to pray. They implored God to visit this place. As Charles tells it, slowly the tension died down, the people put down the rocks, and the police took their hands off their holsters. Those who cared stayed. And without a shot fired or rock thrown, conversations began and God's presence appeared that night in that community. It was the beginning of something new God was doing to bring justice and reconciliation to a street corner.

Possible Preaching Angles: David Fitch adds, "Kingdom prayer does not remove us from the world but places us firmly in the middle of it even in the most violent, awkward, and hopeless circumstances, kingdom prayer open space for God's presence and strengthens those praying to walk faithfully in that presence."

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