Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it…”
— Jeremiah 29:7
We pray for the peace and prosperity [well-being] of our city. For Boston, and specifically Dorchester, which is ridden with volatile days and nights. Though we long for the warmth of summer, we dread the nice weather and long weekends, as it inevitably results in an increase in violence. Over Memorial Day weekend another 14 year old boy, Nicholas Fomby-Davis, was shot and killed, just 3 blocks from our house, just around the corner from his own house, where his dad was packing up to take him fishing.
He was the youngest of five kids – three sisters and a brother, just like my own family. It makes me think about my little brother. The innocence of that age. He was 14 and liked to fish and ride his bike and hang out with his dad. My brother liked to do the same things. But we were somehow blessed to grow up where you didn’t have to worry about getting shot when you went out to play. A lot of kids aren’t. Nicholas Fomby-Davis and Jaewon Martin are just a few of those. Nicholas, like Jaewon, was not involved in any gang activity. His cousin was, and the accused killer was feuding with the cousin’s gang. And the value of human life is just so cheap to them that it’s treated like currency. A possession to be taken.
Two 14 year olds gunned down in broad daylight within less than three weeks? Many members of the city are crying out against the violence. Calling for action. Pastor Bruce Wall of Global Ministries Christian Church, located in our neighborhood, had this to say, “I think our mayor right now is still at a point of denial. The longer we do not acknowledge that we’re at a crisis point, the worse it’s going to get in our city.’’
As a precursor, I am thankful for Global Ministries Christian Church and their love for our community. Several of my friends, who I highly respect for their work with the youth here, attend the church. But I have to say I am very disappointed in Pastor Wall’s comment (and hope the Boston Globe is to blame for cutting off a better quote). Passing off the responsibility for the peace of our city to Mayor Menino is shirking the responsibility of the church. Politicians and a heightened police force won’t diminish the violence.
God told us — those who hold to and practice the teachings of Jesus — to seek the peace and prosperity of the city. And to do so by living the peculiar lifestyle of a follower of Christ and by praying.
Years ago, when crime was at its height in our neighborhood, a bunch of Christians got together and said Enough! Violence will not prevail here anymore. The love and peace of Jesus will reign. They started praying and fasting and took to the streets — not to protest but to bring the presence of peace. As prayers increased the violence decreased. Today that time is referred to as the Boston Miracle.
My prayer is that the Boston Miracle won’t simply be one mark in history where things got better for a little while. But that as we bring the Kingdom of God to our home, our neighbors, our streets, our community, and our city, things will start to look different for good. That the way Jesus changes how we think and act and love will penetrate hearts and bring about true peace.