By Mary Carol Pederson, Vital Families in Schools Team Leader
“No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” Isaiah 60:8
If you are following the news at all, the recent increase in violent crime, shootings, homicides, in Little Rock has been heartbreaking. The 10-year-old girl who was shot and killed at Boyle Park in the center of Little Rock on a Sunday afternoon was a classmate of my niece’s at nearby Otter Creek Elementary. Then, just this past week, four young people playing at a park in east Little Rock were shot, including 3-year-old and 4-year-old girls, by a drive-by shooter. At a park. On a Sunday afternoon. As one pastor says, “If that doesn’t light a fire in you, then your wood is wet!” It’s a crisis, any way you look at it.
Feeling overcome with all that is going on, God prompted me to do a prayer drive through Little Rock this past weekend, pleading to Him for healing and restoration of our city. As I drove through various neighborhoods, praying for individual houses, I was reminded that there are believers in many of these houses! Then, passing small and large churches in neighborhoods throughout the city, God clearly burdened me to pray not as much for the lost or those causing violence, but…for the churches. Large and small, poor and well-resourced, all ethnicities. The Bible tells us, “How can they hear if no one tells them?”
God used that experience as a powerful visual aid, speaking to my heart and giving me an even deeper conviction that THE strategy to healing our community is churches partnering with public schools and moving toward relationships through family support opportunities, student mentoring, and family to family connections.
The prevalent violence makes me think of the loud peals of the tornado sirens that alarm me and cause me to move and take action – the shootings are causing similar sirens – police and ambulances. We should each be burdened to ask, “What am I doing to help the hurting in Little Rock? What more can I do?” One strategic way is to start or grow your church’s partnership with a Little Rock public school. CityChurch Network wants to encourage and equip you in that.