Racism 'not going away,' says Baltimore clergy

by Kimberly Pennington , National Correspondent |

(REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)A demonstrator confronts police near Camden Yards during a protest against the death in police custody of Freddie Gray in Baltimore April 25, 2015. At least 2,000 people protesting the unexplained death of Gray, 25, while in police custody marched through downtown Baltimore on Saturday, pausing at one point to confront officers in front of Camden Yards, home of the Orioles baseball team.

BALTIMORE, Md. (Christian Examiner) -- Michael Crawford, pastor of Freedom Baptist Church and state director of missions for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, told Christian Examiner that yesterday's events did not happen in a vacuum: "What we saw the last few days has been happening for decades, and race is without a question one of the most divisive subjects and social challenges we face in America."

"It's not going away," he said. "America will forget about it. Baltimore won't. We live it all the time. It's just that this one blew up." Crawford said when the cameras are gone and Baltimore is out of the headlines, "the brokenness is still going to be here."

"It's like the dry wood that caught on fire. It will still be here but not on CNN," he said, adding that the people in the city live with the "this stuff daily and weekly."

"The storyline isn't that the National Guard hasn't been here since 1968. The storyline is that the seeds of what caused them to come in 1968 are here and still growing," Crawford explained. "It's only been God's restraining grace that Guard hasn't been called more often."

Crawford said Satan is seeking to capture Baltimore, but he insisted "he can't have it."

"I think Christians are responding. They are praying, mobilizing, and gathering together," he said. "Unfortunately, all you see on TV is anger and hate and on Facebook and Twitter divisiveness. What you see when you go down there is a lot of good stuff is happening. There's tremendous opportunity – a great window of opportunity to move in and help the institutions already on the ground to build things for long-term sustainability."

Crawford offered three ways Christians can help while watching the Baltimore situation from a distance.

  • First, he asked believers to take prayer seriously. "Not hashtag, twitter, and Facebook, but get with your core group and spend, dare I say, an hour of unbroken prayer because that is the primary way that we face this problem. These problems are bigger than all of us put together. Baltimore is one hour from the White House. This is a message from God that we can't do this by ourselves." He also recommended fasting.
  • Second, Crawford suggested offering strategic resources. "This is different than the analogy of flying over and dropping stuff," he said. "Partner with an existing church on the ground in the mix. Rather than telling them what you have, ask them, 'Is there anything we could do to help you do what you're doing in the city more effectively?' It might be money, personnel, cleanup, or something else."
  • Finally, Crawford said that God uses situations like this to call people into His service. "It may be to Baltimore. It may be to Nepal. It may be to Sudan or Syria. People should be open to doing what God calls them to do when they become aware of a situation like this," he said.

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