Members of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) sought to minister to their communities in recent days as Americans grappled with racial tensions resulting from the shooting deaths of black men and police officers. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., were killed by white police officers, followed a few days later by the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers by an African-American sniper during an otherwise peaceful protest in response to the deaths of Sterling and Castile. Nine other officers were wounded in the attack. The racial division in the nation was answered by NRB members with the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Dallas, Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and Host of The Alternative, said in a statement, “The tragedies over the last few days are deplorable, and they have shaken all of us.”
Evans, who is also Chairman of The Gathering, a national solemn assembly of Christian leaders to be held in Dallas on Sept. 21, said prayer is necessary. “But we must do more than pray,” he continued. “We, as believers in Jesus Christ, must begin to both model and apply more fervently biblical solutions to our nation’s chaos.”
Calling for Americans to “do better,” Evans added, “We must stand together and commit to one another that we will usher in a wave of change, justice, life, safety, rightness, equity, and dignity for all. And above all, we must not let fear nor hatred divide us. Peace, unity, love and non-violence should be our rallying cry and the catalyst for change in our nation.”
Dallas Police Chief David Brown is a member of Evans’ church. In a report in the Dallas Morning News, Evans said Brown sees his job as a “divine assignment” and brings a biblical perspective to all his decision-making. Brown told CNN, “I am a servant. And at my core, I enjoy serving people, and I am a person of faith. I am a Christian, and I believe that service is part of my direction, and loving people, despite themselves, is something I aspire to be. I am flawed, though, like many of us.”
Brown, who is an African-American, participated in a “Back the Blue” Sunday in April at First Baptist Church in Dallas, where Robert Jeffress is Senior Pastor, Baptist Press reported. First Baptist, which is located just blocks from the site of the shooting, ministered to grieving officers and their families in the hours after the sniper attack.
In a July 10 appearance on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, Jeffress criticized ministers who don’t support police. Speaking of his Back the Blue initiative, Jeffress said, “We think as Christians, we ought to be commending law enforcement officials for their sacrificial services on our behalf.”
NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, who was in Great Britain for the iNRB Oxford Distinguished Scholar’s program, tweeted concern for his home city of Dallas, urging prayer. “The police are the thin blue line between order and chaos, so #BackTheBlue,” he said. Johnson also said that Christians should “grieve and weep for all who have lost love ones,” while warning that there should be “no moral equivalency” between the “assassination” of the Dallas officers and “alleged police misconduct.”
Meanwhile, crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team were deployed as a “ministry of presence” to Dallas in the hours following the deaths of the policemen, reported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“It’s hard to know what to say in the face of all of the violence we’ve seen in recent days. Our hearts are broken,” said Jack Munday, International Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Please pray for this entire situation, stretching from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge to Dallas.”
Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the BGEA, shared on Twitter: “Pray for the families of the officers killed in Dallas last night and for the recovery of those ambushed and wounded at the protest. Join me in praying for the loved ones of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling as well as their communities in Louisiana and Minnesota.”
In St. Paul, Dr. Bill Maier Live on My Faith Radio featured a July 12 conversation with African-American pastor Billy Russell, President of the Minnesota Baptist Association and Senior Pastor of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and white pastor Jason Meyer Sr., Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Russell and Meyer led a community prayer vigil on July 11.
“Together with Cru Inner City, they called upon pastors, Christians, and other community members to come together to pray for peace and to seek hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” reported Dick Whitworth, Assistant Vice President of Media for My Faith Radio, heard throughout the Midwest.
In response to the tragedies in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, Dr. Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Global Ministries and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, issued a statement urging believers to “seek God’s face.” He continued, “The problems in our country are ultimately spiritual; therefore, the solutions are ultimately spiritual. We must be on our knees in prayer and humble submission to the Lord, earnestly seeking the Lord’s guidance and forgiveness and to have mercy on us.”
In February 2015, the NRB Board of Directors passed a resolution denouncing “racial or ethnic discrimination and hatred” and opposing “actions of those who would seek to inflame racial and ethnic tension.” The resolution also honored “agents of government who dutifully and bravely work to uphold a just and orderly society in which the constitutional freedoms of every citizen, regardless of race or ethnicity, are enjoyed through the structure of the law.”
By NRB Staff
PHOTO ABOVE: A crisis-trained chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team prays with Dallas natives at the memorial in front of Dallas Police headquarters. Photograph courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Published: July 14, 2016