Sometimes life is frustrating and filled with anger and rage. That would describe my momentary stretches this past few days.
According to the recent report, there have been at least 15 shootings since the beginning of the month here in Omaha... the beginning of our new year. Three men died.
We had three First Responders prayer times... one on Friday evening, two this afternoon. At all of them we had family members and neighborhood folks meet with us so we could comfort, encourage, and pray the peace of God over them, AND allow them to share their hearts with us.
On Friday night, the prayer time was held at a home just down the street from where Joshua had been shot. The shooting was on Tuesday; he was on life support until Wednesday. Joshua, 22, had been part of a local Christian facility for some time. The ministry focuses on kids from the tough and poor neighborhoods and difficult family backgrounds. Many of that ministry's group members have been in gangs and on drugs. There's been more than one indication that Joshua had changed his way of life and was trying to turn a solid direction. Many of the friends and family who were at this prayer time... a cold and windy and dark time ... were Christians. Solidly walking with the Lord.
During the praying and sharing, of the 50 or so people, a bunch of small children were running in and out of the circle, the pack. Another few guys in their teens and early twenties were Joshua's friends. And, among others, his grandma, mom, aunt, and one of his young boys.
The saddest aspects this event? His dad was killed, just "accidentally", last August.
Thursday, 3 PM, a 42-year old man was shot in front of his apartment; he died shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital. A 19-year old man was arrested today.
We met at the murder site this afternoon at 2:00 for the prayer time. A number of family, neighbors, and friends came. At all the murder sites I've been at in the past 3-1/2 years, I've never seen any harder-looking faces. Especially the women. Whatever the reason for the shooting, they lost George. Forever and ever.
Then, we went to a home about a mile from my house. This was even more disastrous.
It was a domestic situation, and we rarely go to one of those places. We don't want the neighborhood or the family to be upset, thinking that we are just nosy. This description might be hard to follow, but give it a try. In this case, Antonio, father of a couple boys, became angry because their mom, Kennetta, with whom he had lived for a few years until a recent breakup, had a new man, Davarus,living with her. Antonio showed up on Friday morning and shot and killed Davarus. Then Antonio took the young boys [8, 5, and 4 years old] into his car and hit the street. He was stopped and arrested just a couple miles away. The kids were OK -- physically, at least.
Because of the children and the future of their stress and "heart" damage, we went today. Turns out that, even though we planned to not be in front of the house, but would only be together up the street, we were actually invited to the property. One family member stood by the front door, the protector ... from some source the family has been receiving threats. Another young man, Michael, a family friend in his early 20s, prayed intensely. A little later another young man was with us, looked very sad. When I glanced a couple minutes later, he had a young woman in his arm, her head on his shoulder. Someone asked who she was and he said it was his sister. And the sister was Kennetta. I would never have imagined such a young woman being the mother of those boys.
We all encircled them, and a local pastor prayed very intensely for her. Kennetta sobbed and sobbed and clung to her brother. Michael, who had prayed earlier, came back down from the house and spread his arms around our shoulders, too.
At church this morning, I was telling my pastor about this day-plan on my schedule and what Friday's F.R. was like. He said something that touched me. Basically, that we tend to read a newspaper, glance at these horrible events, skim through, and then head on to something else. [My mind was saying "comics".. my tendency.] And he was not pleased with the automatic choices people make almost constantly.
So, I'm home. I'd like to spend more time editing and re-editing and perfecting this post, but I can't adjust it much better right now; too much on my mind and heart. But, also, I can't wait to send it out to the world. Why? Three families are walking through a stretch of life the vast majority of us never have to face. For them, my heart is filled with an intense desire that the enemy lose ENTIRELY. That these wives, moms, children, lovers, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters... and on and on... will turn to the Lord and find His kind hands touching their hearts.
And THAT is the blessing. We WILL be together; we WILL spiritually fight together; we WILL praise our Father together -- forever and ever -- AMEN.