Friends, we ask for your prayers.
On Monday afternoon here in Raleigh, NC, Akiel Denkins, a 24-year-old African American father of two young boys, was reportedly shot and killed by a police officer. (Updated Friday, March 4, 2016: Initial reports indicated he was shot as he was running away. The first police report published Thursday evening instead described a scuffle between the two men and shots being fired out of self defense.)
Over the years, Akiel had been involved with Neighbor to Neighbor, a Jobs for Life (JfL) site and community ministry with a long time presence of hope and restoration in our city. Akiel was a JfL graduate and had been working on obtaining his GED.
While we know some of the details of what happened, much is still being investigated. These events have elicited responses in our city similar to the ones that followed the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and unfortunately several others. There is much emotion, anger, sadness, frustration, and disbelief. Many in our community are hurting.
As we’ve had the opportunity to work with pastors and community leaders in Ferguson in the aftermath of the events that took place there, the lessons we’ve learned from that experience are helping focus our prayers. We thought it would be helpful to share them with you.
This is a time of mourning.
The hurt and pain are real and can’t be dismissed. Please join us as we pray for Akiel’s family and friends, the officer involved and his family, and our police chief, Cassandra Deck-Brown. Pray for our African American brothers and sisters who are tired of seeing this scene play out over and over again and are asking the Lord, “How long, O Lord, will you hide your face from me?” And please join us in praying for our community—for peace, comfort, and reconciliation.
This is a time to listen.
We need to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Pray we take the time to be honest with one another and truly enter into one another’s stories. Our judgments often stand in the way of truly hearing others. We cannot listen if we are already developing conclusions in our minds or with our words.
This is a time for His church to lead.
Join us in praying for our pastors as they shepherd and guide us during this time. Pray the church will embody the Lord’s power, humility, and unity.
This is a time to long suffer.
Healing doesn’t happen overnight and real solutions aren’t discovered in a day. Pray we endure and persevere with one another knowing we’re in a marathon not a sprint.
For many of us who live outside of communities like Akiel’s, we need to be careful not to pass judgment because of stereotypes and long held assumptions about under resourced communities. We want to show love, not cast stones during a time like this. In the words of Father Gregory Boyle:
“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. We trust the Lord and His goodness. He is light in the midst of darkness, hope in the face of hopelessness. Because of His Son and the reality of His death for us on the cross, we do not fear. May His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank you for taking this journey in prayer with us.