It is difficult to describe what we experienced in Memphis, Tennessee. We walked from our hotel to the Lorraine Motel. It’s the first time I’ve walked the city early in the morning, you were able to feel the stillness in the air. When we turned the corner with the motel in sight, the first thing that we saw was the spot where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. A wreath hangs in memory, but it’s hard to understand how such evil could seem so present. In this moment no birds were singing and no cars were driving. It was completely still. Once we got close to the spot, my wife, Gina, shared her personal testimony and Scripture, then we challenged students about going into their “need-to-go-though” places. After some conversation, we broke into groups and began to pray for courage as we prepared to spend several hours examining civil rights, slavery, evil and its impact on society. Some would say it’s just information from the past, but for the city of Memphis, waiting at that moment to see the video footage of a police traffic stop gone desperately wrong, it is clear that evil isn’t limited to the conversation around the past.
When we come to these dark moments it is difficult not to rely on others’ opinions and interpretations. It is difficult not to ask others to capture and categorize what is wrong about it. One thing is clear about evil, both old or new: evil is still evil. I call to those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our call must be not only to decry wrong, but to engage the God of Heaven & Earth for His Kingdom to come. Jesus said that we have to give Caesar what is Caesar’s but to give God what is God’s. Have you figured that out yet? Are we willing to give God what is His? Our day in Memphis started with prayer, and it was a beautiful way for us as a community to do what we do individually, but to do it together! My heart, my heart breaks not only for Memphis, but for us. All of us. Such difficult truths to unpack.