FERGUSON, Mo. (Christian Examiner) – Tonight Ferguson burns while most of its 22,000 residents huddle inside, eyes glued to their televisions.
Just a few weeks ago First Baptist Church in Ferguson was the site of Heartland Prayer Summit where leaders prayed, in part, for the "brokenness in the community." Tonight, protestors burned a Little Caesars Pizza carryout to the ground just across the street.
"It makes me so sad," one former resident told Christian Examiner. Warning parents to have a bag ready to flee at a moments notice, the young man said he has watched the church where his parents worship beset by concern that its community has been overcome by outside forces.
On Nov. 24 St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury considered all the evidence and concluded police officer Darren Wilson should not be indicted for the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown. The announcement came after months of tension between law enforcement and some members of the community and black activists – following a debate about how whites and blacks view life in America. Wilson is white and Brown was a young black man.
"I know the people are hurting," said the man who now lives in a nearby community. "It's complicated here. God love all of us. Pray for calmness and healing and safety."
Still no stranger to the area, he frequently checks on his parents who live 4-5 miles from the church in a neighborhood that is now about 90 percent black. His parents are white.
"I'm not concerned with neighbors; I'm not scared," he told the Examiner. "Hopefully the peaceful protestors will influence the thugs that probably aren't even from the Ferguson area."
Expressing an oft-repeated concern about media coverage, the long-time Missouri resident said he hopes daylight will be calming. "The cameras need to leave because people want to be on TV," he said.
His remarks may have been premature however, as tensions increased throughout the night and protestors clashed with police, and media outlets and people on social media reported shots fired, a police officer down, rioting, and looting.
A no fly zone was instituted above Ferguson and the St. Louis International Airport was not accepting flights. Other area airports were reporting closures, according to news reports.
"It almost feels like a civil war," he said, as the night wore on into the early morning around Ferguson. "I wish and pray we can come together and be ready for our real enemies. But the devil is good at sidetracking. In the name of Jesus, we need to tell the devil to shoo, get lost!"
Still planning to check on his parents in the morning -- and to take the children to their grandparents for a birthday celebration later in the week -- the young man said his father grew up in the deep South and has a "soft heart" for all kinds of people.
"My folks wonder if revival will begin here," he said.