The New Bloody Reality

As of September 1st, there have been more mass shootings than days this year. The worst part of this is that it appears that these types of violent outbursts began to spike around 2012, during the second term of Barack Obama. Nevertheless, some entities reported a rise in hate crimes as early as November of 2008. The rise of this phenomenon is actually not mysterious or inexplicable at all. Social scientists have long argued that this spike in hate is the result of shifting power dynamics in the country.

Vera Bergengruen and W.J. Hennigan wrote in the August 19, 2019 issue of Time magazine, “Law enforcement officials say the cancer of white nationalism has metastasized across social media and the dark corners of the internet, creating a copycat effect in which inspiring killers draw inspiration and seek to outdo one another.” This is the “45 Effect” – It is an emboldened mass of those who are determined to revert back to former times by any means necessary.

It appears that a large portion of the dominant group is unwilling to live in a country where equality reigns. They prefer to perpetuate systems of disproportionate power, dehumanization, victimization and oppression. In order for them to feel that all is right in the world they must maintain a position of power, authority and control.

This Has Always Been, America

Furthermore, on top of all of his fear-mongering, hate-stoking, and violent rhetoric, 45 has appeared to plunge into yet a deeper and deeper chasm of depravity and failed diplomacy. Yet, his followers are undeterred. They are convinced that the #MAGAtrain will surge ahead until 2025. Interestingly, the 2020 election has inspired hope in some on the other side of the aisle. Many democratic candidates and voters believe 45 will be defeated and that we will achieve, in our lifetime, the beloved community.

In my estimation, we would do well to remember that while the Pledge of Allegiance proclaims this to be the “land of the free,” the reality is that your station and status was settled by your skin tone. The violent terrorism that held those systems in check then have morphed a bit, but they are still very vibrant. And a changing of the guard in 2021 will not change this entrenched social system.

This is America. Or at least, this is the enduring legacy of America. This is the land that many have long said, “looks like a lamb and speaks like a dragon.” This is the same America that defrauded the indigenous peoples out of their land, and ravaged their tribes. This is the same America that has separated children from their parents at our southern border. There is no justice for minorities in America. And just in case you forget it, the dominant group has quite a few fringe members who will quickly grab an AR-15, run to a public place and remind us all that this is their country; and they will do with fear and force whatever is necessary to keep it that way.

Mourners gathered on Monday outside the Walmart in El Paso where at least 22 people were killed. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Pain in Prophecy

Here’s the sad news, and a bit of a bold prediction. This pattern of violent terror is not going to relent. As a matter of fact, this is (in part) predicted in scripture. Jeremiah says:

From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 6:13-15 (NIV)

Now, while that text may not apply directly to white-nationalists, just think, if the very priests that were set aside to care for God’s people had become unscrupulous because of greed and deception, what do you think we can expect from people who are bent on hate? The text, in essence, points to a time when people will lose their sense of compassion and decency. That time is now.

Our New Reality

This is the new reality. The battle lines have been so indelibly drawn and entrenched that it is highly likely that we have passed the point of no return. And remember, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV). These are not simply natural expressions of bigotry and hate. These instances are being fueled by the very essence of the one who is the archenemy of our souls.

Now, this is not a message of gloom and doom. Jesus has promised that he would always be with us, and that he would never leave us nor forsake us. In another place, he reassures us saying, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

With this is mind, there are some things that we should do in light of this new reality:

  1. Strengthen relational networks and systems that serve as safe places for underserved communities. Whether that takes the form of an active shooter training at your church, a mentoring program, or simply a more consistent time for family meals, we need to preserve the spaces where we belong authentically and fully.
  2. Develop systems for civic and economic engagement that consistently empowers those on the margins. Children at the border who have been separated from their parents need advocates who will continue to speak up for them. Small minority businesses find it even more difficult to develop in this reality. We need creative ways to provide support, build advocacy and create lasting value.
  3. Finally, pursue more dynamic and empowering opportunities for faith development. This may take the form of a Bible study, prayer group, or a church plant, or maybe even more consistent and committed service initiatives and the like. There is a definite need to grab hold of those themes of hope, faith and trust that will help to sustain us.

Protestors take part in a rally of Moms against gun violence. Photo by Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

These are very difficult times. With each mass shooting we are reminded of our vulnerability and the ever-encroaching scourge of bigotry and hate. When I was a kid riding in the front seat of my mom’s car, she had a tendency to stretch her arm out across my chest while she drove whenever she felt there was danger approaching. Her outstretched arm was in an effort to help shield and brace my body from potential impact. Today we need the arms of the community members to reach out, create safer communities, and shield our people with hope that Jesus will come just in time to save us from the impending collision.




Our Youth and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Serious Non-combat PTSD More Common Than We Think

There are some things that you never forget, like the sound of a car screeching down the street and hitting one of your neighbors. You don’t forget the bombastic sound of a gunshot, and the sight of the blood and human damage that the bullet has done.

The sight and smell of the burned flesh from the bullet mixed with the smoke from the gun will stay in your memory. You will remember where you were and what you were doing when that one incident changed your life. And, it only takes a little thing like a scene on TV to trigger the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD that you contracted when the event initially took place.

In an effort to contribute to mental health month, I would like to look at the prevalence and long lasting effects of PTSD. The goal is to continue to expose some of the more common mental health issues, how we can detect the need for healthcare in ourselves and our youth, offer treatment options and to decrease the stigma making it easier to seek help. We have to talk about it to relieve the pressure of dealing with it.

Witness to Violence

At the age of 4, I witnessed the murder of my mother’s boyfriend and his young son. Three men busted into our quiet apartment, proceeded to shoot my mother in the back as she tried to protect him and left the bloody crime scene and dead body in the house with us.

I live a semi-productive, crime-free life now, however, in my early adulthood, I realized that I was incredibly angry, aggressive, and hyper-vigilant. It would lead me to physical altercations, ferocious arguments, fits of tears and unhealthy habits. I didn’t like how most of this ended. I started recognizing my triggers and learning to navigate through life in a way that kept things from getting to the extreme stages. Feelings of anxiety are also a prominent symptom of PTSD. When I felt these attacks coming on, I developed breathing techniques and simply removed myself from the area.

It was a process of acknowledging that something was wrong and resolving to not let it control my life. Although that may sound simple, it really is not. The other young child that was with me when the murder happened, was not as lucky. He has been in prison since 2002.

Personal Violence Survivor

At the age of 13 and again in college, I was sexually assaulted while I slept. I woke up to things going on without my consent and against my will. In both instances, I escaped the situation as soon as I realized what was going on. For years, over a decade, the residue of the incident prevented me from sleeping well.

Fear and an edge of paranoia prevented me from drifting off to sleep, even when I was tired and fatigued. Only complete exhaustion allowed me to fall off to sleep. Bad dreams and internal, unsettled emotions would quickly awaken me. This is classic PTSD.

Reliving the trauma when exposed to anything that triggers the memory of the incident is common in this disorder. Triggers can be recognized by urges to avoid situations, scenes and even certain people that remind you of the incident. I always sought to avoid sleep. Avoiding sleep caused mood swings, though. It also caused lack of performance in school and work. I also avoided social situations where I might run into these predators (the causes of my disorder).

Ripple Effects of Police Violence

Recently, Ste’Vante Clark, the brother of an unarmed man killed by police in Sacramento, California faced a barrage of criticism for his behavior after his brother died. During television interviews and even at the funeral for his brother Stephon, Ste’Vante was breaking down. He had lost two brothers, and police then arrested him for threatening to kill or seriously injure someone.  Many have come out in his defense stating that he is suffering from PTSD.

This very well may be true. The characteristics include irritable or aggressive behavior, reckless or self-destructive behavior, and hyper-vigilance. As tragic as losing his brothers is, an even worse scenario would be his family losing him to the criminal justice system because treatment was not sought and received.

How People Get PTSD, and Its Impact

Many people associate PTSD with being in the military or involved in a traumatic incident as a police officer. As many are discovering, Non-Combat PTSD can be based on experiences that occur in the home or neighborhood. The causes are medically stated as:

• directly experiencing the traumatic event

• being a witness to a traumatic event

• learning that the traumatic events occurred to a close family member or close friend; cases of actual or threatened death must have been violent or accidental

• experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic events

Kids that experience domestic violence, gun violence and child abuse become teenagers and young adults with PTSD symptoms. Only about one-quarter of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40% of whites. Not getting treatment and learning to manage PTSD means it can develop into depression, bipolar disorder or another personality disorder. Many times, this can lead to some type of conflict with the criminal justice system which then starts a whole new cycle of issues.

PTSD is one of the more common psychiatric disorders in youth detention facilities, with the probability of PTSD being at least 1 in 10 detained youth (Abram et al., 2007).

Trauma, both experienced and witnessed, often continues into adulthood. All types of childhood trauma (physical, sexual and neglect) elevate the risk of lifetime re-victimization. Repeated trauma over the life cycle also has been found among incarcerated men. “Being traumatized as a child creates a story that the world is not safe in any capacity and that story stays with most well into adulthood, unless addressed.”

Of the 93,000 children currently incarcerated, between 75 and 93 percent have experienced at least one traumatic experience.

The effects of the trauma also include lifelong psychiatric conditions, including personality and conduct disorders, ADHD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders and PTSD. This results in a higher likelihood also more likely to have learning disabilities and lower IQ levels along with, in many instances, school dropout and expulsion rates nearly three times higher than their peers who had not experienced trauma, which makes them also more susceptible to incarceration.  (C. Thomas-Whitfield, “Child Trauma Linked to Prison Time” 2010

Stop the Violence

“All this to say that the way we are treated as little people has the potential to have a great effect on the type of people we become,” said Syreeta Butler, a Licensed Family Therapist practicing in Southern California. “When trauma is a part of your lived experience as a child it has a huge hand in the way we experience and navigate the world.”

We must take our children’s mental health care as seriously as we take their physical health care. We start by making our homes as safe and functional as possible, keeping elements that could lead to traumatic circumstances away from our homes. The drugs and violence can have no sanctuary in our homes. Moreover, we need to do a better job with addressing trauma when it occurs, noted Butler. Children who experience childhood trauma should be able to tell their story without the fear of tearing their family apart.

Break A Generational Dynamic

To ignore abuse is to welcome its long-term effects, not just on individuals, but on families and communities. This builds into generational dysfunction that leaves it even harder to break the cycle. If we acknowledge our contribution to this preventable condition that effects almost 40% of our youth/young adults and work to reverse it, the results will be positive and dynamic for our communities as a whole for generations to come.

“Being traumatized as a child creates a story that the world is not safe in any capacity and that story stays with most well into adulthood, unless addressed,” says Butler. “Trauma is an illness that affects everyone and the stigma has to be lifted if true healing has the chance of taking place.”




Drama Files: Acknowledging Brokenness 

Eighteen year-old Jenna came from a loving environment. She grew up in a Christian home and attended some of the best schools in her city. Her parents always provided all the advantages that life could afford. 

When the time came for Jenna to attend college her parents wanted her to follow them and attend their alma mater where they met.  When her parents drove her to school and attended the  parent orientation, everything fell in place. It was difficult for Jenna’s mother to leave her only child, but they embraced one another and said good bye. 

Soon after classes began Jenna settled in with her schedule. She began to meet new people and enjoyed the routine of campus life. One afternoon she was studying in the library when Richard greeted her and started  a conversation. She liked him instantly. The pair began to spend a lot of time together and soon became very close. 

The Day That Everything Changed

One afternoon two men brutally assaulted Jenna as she walked to her dorm. They almost beat her to death and she was unrecognizable.  The campus police found her behind a building on campus. She was rushed to the hospital and then  lingered in a coma for almost six months. Richard and her parents would visit her everyday with hopes of her regaining consciousness.  

Late one evening, and after much prayer, Jenna awakened and recognized her parents. It all came back to her–Richard, her close friends, and the devastating attack. She had always been an action-oriented person who set the bar high for herself,  and this awful situation created in her a vulnerable state of mind, understandably. 

Jenna felt helpless and hopeless. Her parents sought Christian counseling because they recognized she needed intervention as soon as possible. She was depressed and very angry that she had been a target of such a terrible  crime. 

What Ray of Hope?

I hoped to help Jenna focus on the fact that she was alive, though she had to acknowledge her brokenness. She was mentally and physically broken, exhausted. Jenna recognized that she could have died, and, or could have been raped. She blamed herself for trying to defend herself to prevent the attackers from hurting her more than they did. 

Jenna’s parents continue to care for her as she made every attempt to return to her school routine. She and Richard are still together and he has been very patient and supportive with her during the whole process.  The counseling treatment provided information to help Jenna understand that she is not alone. 

Sexual violence on campus is pervasive.

Acknowledging her brokenness and recognizing God’s power, Jenna fights back for other victims of violence.

* 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).

* Among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

* Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

* 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.

https://www.rainn.org/statistics/campus-sexual-violence

After many months of counseling, and the police apprehending the two men as they tried to attack another woman, Jenna is healing from her own brokenness and was able to bring closure to her past. 

What Closure Looks Like

Jenna testified against both men and they were sentenced to ten years in prison. She is now an advocate against campus violence. As a volunteer to support other victims, and speak out against the violence, she is thankful that God spared her life. 

Jenna is also attending church and Bible class that has allowed her to trust God in everything. And, she believes that God has empowered her to speak out to help save others. She is very thankful for her Christian counseling and being able to acknowledge her brokenness to become whole once again.

As she grows stronger, Jenna shares this scripture everywhere she speaks:

Phil. 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”




PeaceMakers

The Numbers Are Staggering.

According to the Chicago Tribune, 762 people were killed and more than 4,000 people were shot in 2016. Even President Donald Trump tweeted that federal help may be necessary.

“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” 9:25 PM – 24 Jan 2017

Thought About Jumping Into the Fight? Tio Hardiman knows how.

Chicago is not alone when it comes to record-breaking crime. The murders of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando made international news. According to the website fivethirtyeight.com, other cities with a significant increase in the murder rate are: San Antonio (61%), Memphis (56%), Louisville (44%), Phoenix (36%), and Las Vegas (31%). Those cities, not including Orlando, were responsible for 76% of the rise in murder among big cities last year.

Just because the numbers seem insurmountable doesn’t mean local citizens have stopped fighting for their cities. Tio Hardiman, the Executive Director of Violence Interrupters, NFP, has been on the front lines in Chicago for more than 25 years and isn’t ready to give up. Hardiman, who joined Cease Fire in 1999, has made tangible results in the community. From 2012 to 2013, homicides had dropped in Chicago by 25%.

“This isn’t just a violence problem, it’s a public health problem,” Hardiman said. “This is a sickness, and to heal it you have to diagnose the problem.”

So, as someone on the front lines, Hardiman has some suggestions on how to make a difference:

Know your history.

To make a difference, you must know what happened before your arrival. “Many times governments bring in people from the outside who don’t respect what happened before,” Hardiman said. “You can’t fix anything without investigating the root cause.”

Know the players.

Hardiman has personally negotiated ceasefires through tense situations, and a big reason the former gubernatorial candidate is still standing is because of the respect he has earned in the inner city. “Many of the homicides are misunderstandings that become something bigger. I call it ‘crazy cousin syndrome’,” Hardiman said. “Two people get in an argument, someone bumps into someone else, and then other people get involved. If you don’t know who is connected to who, you can’t sit in a room and work it out.”

Get someone who speaks their language.

Violence Interrupters, NFP trains and employs violence intervention experts to mediate. These experts are usually people who were participants, but are now peacemakers. “It lowers the recidivism rate and gives the community highly trained people with street credentials,” Hardiman said. According to him, “1,400 people drive the violence in Chicago. If we can turn them into peacemakers, there’s no limit to what we can do.”

Role of the police.

Hardiman calls the police an “ambulance service.” As he sees it, the role of the police is not conflict resolution. “Think about it,” Hardiman said. “They are usually called to respond to a problem. Not before.”

Immediate family’s role.

Those who can make the biggest difference in conflict are family members of the shooters. “We have to tell them there is no place in the family for violent crime. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and other extended family can hold them accountable,” Hardiman said. He even tells of nephews who were tough. “I had to get together with my brothers and other family members to set them straight. So many family dynamics are dysfunctional. We have to band together.” This leads to the Black community.

Black on Black solutions.

A tight-knit community is vital to facilitate change. “Black Lives Matter can be so much more effective,” Hardiman said. “Imagine 30,000, 40,000 people in downtown Chicago demanding safe communities.”  “We can have the same unity in our neighborhood that we do to protest national causes.”

Perhaps the biggest cause is reducing the number of deaths in Black communities. “Let’s be honest,” Hardiman said. The war on drugs has failed and murder has been a problem in Chicago since the first mayor, Daley (Richard M. Daley was mayor from 1955 to 1976).  Black death has become a hustle. It’s not about the victims and their pain anymore. Even the criminal justice system would be bankrupt. It has turned into business.”

He might come across as no-nonsense in his approach, but Hardiman has a saying that carries throughout his negotiation: “There’s no way to mediate conflict without confrontation.”

…......………………………………………………………………………………………………

John Devine is an assistant sports editor for the Miami Herald




Scars that Hurt a Lifetime

Countless children today are beings scarred, many physically, but many more emotionally, and they will bear and experience the pain of those scars for their entire life. Children who witness domestic violence will likely have deficiencies in cognitive skills, lower life expectancy, and a higher risk of developing violent behaviors. Many of these children meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have substantially lower IQs; in fact, it has been reported that 40% had lower reading abilities than children from non-violent homes, and they cry excessively and have eating and sleeping problems.

Domestic violence damages more than the physical body, and threatens the fabric of society.

If their own scars were not enough, what these children have witnessed has encroached on their developing minds which often results in them repeating those violent acts. In short, they are three times more likely to repeat the domestic violence they witnessed and 74% more likely to commit a violent crime. In addition, 63% of all boys, age 11-20, who commit murder, kill the man who abused their mother; in fact, these young boys are taught at a young age to treat violence as a way of life. Witnessing domestic violence is not only a threat to society, but to the very children who witness it. Sadly, these children are six times more likely to commit suicide.

As children age, they use different methods to cope with the violence they witness at home. Preschoolers show regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking and anxiety with strangers. School-age children experience self-blame, violent outbursts, and regressive behaviors such as bed-wetting. In adolescents, you may begin to see signs of truancy, drug abuse, and sexual activity.

A child that is experiencing or witnessing domestic violence is trying to understand how a normal relationship works, which is why the first priority is to help keep them from normalizing such behaviors and attitudes and instead show them what a healthy relationship looks like.

Here are some practical tips that may help:

  1. Start by being their friend, someone they can trust.
  2. Listen attentively and respectfully, and never make promises you cannot keep.
  3. As you spend time with them, introduce them to safe hobbies and activities, and reinforce examples of positive relationships.
  4. Help them be grounded with a stable, healthy family where they can witness what a healthy familial relationship looks like.
  5. Reinforce positive behavior by telling them often that violence is not okay, that they are not at fault, that they are important, and that it is not their responsibility to prevent or change domestic violence.
  6. At the same time, remember to ask them how they feel, and listen attentively and respectfully to them.

Together we can help the next generation heal from the emotional, and at times, physical scars caused by the domestic violence in their homes, and to develop healthy, loving relationships.

…......………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Claudio Consuegra, D.Min., and Pamela Consuegra, Ph.D., direct family ministries for the Adventist Church in North America.

https://www.rawhide.org/blog/infographics/cdv-domestic-violence-and-the-children-in-its-shadow/?gclid=CJSCud6yytMCFd5LDQodRloIKA




Stop the Violence

A  car plowed into unsuspecting pedestrians on an iconic London Bridge, and mayhem ensued. At the end of the unprovoked violence that expanded to include multiple stabbings nearby, seven people were dead. Gunfire erupted on the South Side of Chicago, and a stray bullet killed a young child playing in the street in front of her home. A jealous, jilted husband grabbed his wife by the throat and tried to choke her to death because he thought she was having an affair. A country invaded another, and dropped bombs that found their targets with frightening accuracy.

Ever since Cain killed his brother Abel, humans have been on an unrelenting killing spree born of hate, Cain hits Abelenvy, and jealously. Violence, with all of its negative overtones, and consequences, has been an undeniable force in human life, and is so commonplace that it is often taken for granted. Like no other reality, violence stalks communities worldwide, stubbornly refusing to respect any nationality, race, gender, or socio-economic status. Turn on your television or tune into social media and you will see gory images of a world victimized by violence. Homicides, genocide, fratricide, acts of terrorism, war, and other forms of violence have made life on planet earth precarious and treacherous, and the proverbial million dollar question is, “Will the violence ever stop?”

I work in Chicago, a city that is virtually under siege. It is the third largest American city, and has a murder rate that is higher than New York City, and Los Angeles. More troubling is the fact that no one seems to have the answer, or a strategy to stop or slow the violence that rages on wantonly and recklessly. Gang warfare has made the South Side of Chicago a veritable war zone that prompted the city’s police chief to admit his impotence in trying to stop the gun violence.

Meanwhile, innocent children are still dying from stray bullets, and grieving parents are still burying teenagers who, oftentimes, were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Violence in Chicago did not escape the attention of the president of the United States. Donald Trump threatened, in a January 24, 2017 tweet, to send in federal troops if Chicago didn’t “fix” the problem. Is he bluffing? Is the president of the United States serious? Time will tell.

Why all the violence in our world? Violence is attractive because its perpetrators tend to see it as a way of enacting justice and getting even. Race riots, for example, are often viewed as a way for those being discriminated against to fight back. Some people, because of the quickness with which it delivers results or the desired aim of the perpetrator, embrace violence. It stems or grows out of anger, rage, or hatred, all of which are irrational, if not pathological, behaviors. It is also embraced because it is considered to be associated with power, and played a key role in the economic development of nations. Indeed, because politics is viewed as a struggle for power, violence is considered the ultimate political act by some, and is glorified by others.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who eschewed violent forms of protest embraced by others such as Malcolm X, for the non-violent protests, challenged us to live together as brothers, or die apart as fools. King wanted all forms of violence to end, viewing the alternative as being unattractive and unappealing. King said that if we continued to worship at the altar of revenge, paying homage to the Hammurabic principle of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, the result would be a totally blind civilization. An admirer of Mahatma Ghandi, King, ironically, died a violent death when he was gunned down by an assassin.
“Stop the Violence” movements have sprung up around the world. Yet talk of stopping the violence that is decimating our society must go beyond rhetoric and banter. Stopping the violence is a huge undertaking, since to turn human beings from their violent ways is, in a real sense, to humanize them. A call to stop the violence is a call for a return to our better selves; it is a call to sanity and sobriety. Violence has never contributed to society’s health in any way, and is decimating the African American community in Chicago in more ways than one.

Stopping the violence requires turning to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace who, Himself, died a violent death. Yet the cross on which Jesus Christ died is a symbol, not of violence, but of peace and reconciliation. This is because everything that Jesus touched, He changed.


R. CLIFFORD JONES, Ph.D., is president, Lake Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Chicago, Illinois.




2017 July / August Issue

Stop Violence

Violence tore at the fabric of a friendship—where can they go for healing?


After the massacre in “Mother Emmanuel” AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, these friends had to find another sacred place to heal—somewhere within the bonds of love.

12  HARD PRAYERS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
by Hugh Carrington /
God’s promise for those who pray for leaders.


13 SEVEN WAYS TO GET ALONG WITH CHURCH FOLK
by Tammy Darling /
When conflict emerges among believers, it doesn’t have to divide.


14 SCARS THAT HURT A LIFETIME
by Claudio and Pamela Consuegra /
How to begin to repair the damage caused by domestic violence.


15 PEACEMAKERS
by John Devine /
Why sending in “the feds” won’t heal the violence, and how you can really help.


16 AFFIRMATIONS FOR A POWERFUL LIFE
by Mabel Dunbar /
Violence takes a toll on one’s humanity; pray and heal knowing these truths.


18 A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
by David Person /
After the attack on Emmanuel AME Church, three friends grieve and heal together.


20 GLORY!
by Lucas Lee Johnson II /
James Settles spent years in the streets until the Holy Spirit arrested him.


22 IMPRISONED
by H. Jean Wright /
Little light filters through the window in the “hole,” but God’s hope lights up the place.

4   ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley /
Media That Takes You Higher

5   GUEST EDITORIAL
by R. Clifford Jones / Stop the violence

6   EYE ON THE TIMES
by Kingsley Palmer / Christophe Ringer / current news & views

8  OPTIMAL HEALTH
by Donna Green Goodman / Save Some for Later

12  RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver / This Marriage is Ruining My Spiritual Life—Can I Get Out?

22  MYTH BUSTERS
by Donald L. McPhaull / To Love Jesus Is to Live Jesus

24  FUTURECAST
by Carlton Byrd / Love Letter #6 Thou Shalt Not Kill

26 THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White / Blessing the Children

28 THE EXPERIENCE BIBLE STUDY
by Rashad Burden / What About the Children?

30 TWITTERVERSES & FAITHBOTS
by Debra McKinney Cuardo / Moral Wit from the Internet

   

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Life-Giving Words

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, October 4, 2016

“The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions. Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses” (Proverbs 10:11–12, NLT).

The imagery here is incredible. I’m not sure who said that words cannot hurt, but they apparently never heard shouting matches in violent households, the “N-word” thrown around like it’s nothing, or a woman being told that she will never amount to anything. Whoever said it apparently never experienced the cold, hard stare of an abuser who with clenched teeth said to the one he claims to love four out of seven days per week, “I hate the very ground you walk on and wish you’d just die!” Sticks-n-stones do hurt, and so do certain words. The power of life and death are in the tongue.

Let’s talk about words of life, shall we? Our Creator spoke much of what we can and cannot see into existence. He spoke, and dry land appeared. He spoke, and the heavens were aglow with sun, moon, and stars. He spoke, and the seas teemed with all manner of creatures. Jesus spoke, and those with faith in Him were healed. He declared that He loves us with an everlasting love. He promised that He would return to rescue His people from this old earth one day (soon).

We, too, can participate in positive, healing speech. We can tell our spouses how much we love them, rather than threatening them for not doing what we say. We can smile and give compliments to our family members instead of cursing them with words we should never voice. We can tell others how great God has been to us when He mended our broken relationships. We can choose love instead of violence.

Speak hope. Communicate joy. Inspire courage.




Violent Position

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, October 2, 2016

“The LORD trieth the righteous: But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (Psalm 11:5).

Did you know that our loving Heavenly Father measures all people’s characters by the divine standard of righteousness? The truth is, while the standard is completely unattainable with us, with Him, all things are possible. If we continue to accept the righteous life of Jesus, as our eternal covering by faith, God will continually shower us with His love.

Unfortunately, many love violence. Some study combat and dominance of innocent people. Others seek to control the actions of those they claim to love. Still others find it pleasurable to subjugate the weak. These people, if they continue to resist the Lord’s Spirit to change their wicked ways, draw the hatred and ire of God. This is a remarkable reality. People who love violence and wickedness position themselves as enemies of God.

Repent. Learn to love mercy. Love the power of choice. Put off all violence and wickedness in Jesus’ name. Be at peace with God, and your fellow human beings.