Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charleston vs. Ferguson

We all know about the protests that have taken place in cities like Ferguson and Baltimore in recent months due to the deaths of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray. But after an evil young man in South Carolina murdered nine people in Charleston last week, the response has been the exact opposite of that of recent events.

Charleston had all the ingredients to lead to another Ferguson, but that hasn’t been the case.

Charleston has had its demonstrations: candle lightings, prayer vigils, marches, laying flowers, etc. But there has been no violence, no buildings burned down, no stolen cars, no looting, and no assaulting of police officers—all things done in Ferguson and Baltimore.

What has made the difference? Leadership is certainly a factor. Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott are great people showing strong leadership. But the response of the victims’ families in Charleston has been most noteworthy. When given the opportunity to address their loved ones’ killer, the mourners in Charleston said things like, “I forgive you,” and “I’m praying for you.” They let him know that, even though they are upset, their Christian faith calls them to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

 Me with the great Senator Tim Scott

Compare that to the reaction in the others cities. When the evidence against Officer Darren Wilson did not lead to an indictment, the step-father of Mike Brown grabbed a microphone and yelled, “Burn this b**** down!” And that’s exactly what the demonstrators did.

I don’t know anything about that step-father; I’m not saying he doesn’t believe in Jesus or that he is a bad person. He was a man going through the agony of losing a son.

But those in Charleston do profess faith in Christ, and their actions certainly backed up their faith claims. So this is not an anti-anything post, or a chance to brag on my state. It is simply pointing out the difference that Jesus can make in even the most tragic of situations.

When the entire country was bracing for another round of protests, we instead were inspired by the Christian love and sympathy extended to a young man who deserved neither.

And that is the message of Jesus: none of us deserves His love and forgiveness, but He offers it to anyone who desires it.

When someone asks what difference Jesus can make in a person’s life, He can take them from “Burn this city down” to “I forgive you.”  

This video shows the love and forgiveness shown in Charleston.


Anonymous said...

Charleston had none of the ingredients that lead to Ferguson. In fact, exactly the opposite.

The police caught the guy who did this (instead of covering up his name), charged him with a crime (instead of the grand jury saying there was no grounds for murder), and are bringing him to trial (instead of letting him get away with it).

The trouble in Ferguson happened because the police were the shooters and the law let them go. The trouble in Baltimore happened because the police were the shooters and the law almost let them go again. In Charleston, the police caught the shooter and are doing to him exactly what the public in Ferguson and Baltimore wanted their own police to do.

Tommy Mann said...

Thank you for your comment. Obviously we seem to have a different take on the details in Ferguson. But that wasn’t at all the point of my post. I have seen no one in either Baltimore or Ferguson saying they forgive Darren Wilson or the six officers in Baltimore. The fact that people in Charleston are grieving, yet can look the murderer in the face and say they forgive him, is absolutely amazing. Only Jesus can give people that power. If Mike Brown’s step-father grabbed a microphone and said he forgives Darren Wilson, I would be commending him as well.