I Looked for a Man
This book is a sequel to “The Making of A Great America Where the Founding Fathers and the Church Fell Short.” Although it’s a sequel, published in 2020, the origins of this book trace back to July 8, 2016. I was at a Kenneth Copeland Believers’ Convention.
I arrived in Ft. Worth on or about July 4th. On July 5th Alton Sterling was killed by the police. On July 6th, in one of the most shocking things I have ever witnessed on television, an unarmed man, Philando Castile, was shot four or more times by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. On July 7th, up the road in Dallas, a sniper shot 12 police officers who were “guarding a peaceful protest” of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Five of those officers, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, and Michael Krol, died. Here is how an article entitled “A Week of Bloodshed in America” described the events of July 8th:
"Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by police officers on Tuesday, July 5, while he was selling CDs outside of a convenience store. The following day, Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed by a police officer after he was stopped for a broken tail light. Videos of both killings were widely shared on social media, causing hundreds to take to the streets in protest of police actions, as well as memory of the two men killed. Thursday night, snipers shot and killed five officers at such a protest in Dallas, Texas. Questions of police brutality, America's historic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and second amendment rights have been pushed to the forefront of the nation's consciousness."
The link below is from a Facebook live video that I did on July 8, 2016. https://bit.ly/3h2EjeA
In the Facebook live video, I was standing next to a memorial for President John F. Kennedy. I spoke about how the events in July of 2016 reminded me of the 1960s and things my mother used to tell me about. I shared how I felt that the clock seemingly had been turned back to an uglier time in our nation in terms of racism. I was nearly bewildered between mourning the horrific shooting of an unarmed black man and coming to terms with the equally horrific deaths of five Dallas police officers.
In the video, I also shared my regret. I shared how I knew that there would be a powerful “backlash” in the black community after seeing an unarmed Philando Castile shot to death, in his seatbelt, during a routine traffic stop, in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. What was my regret? That I didn’t pray against the backlash that I knew was coming.
This book was born, however, when I went to the Convention the day after Philando Castile’s death. Yes, I had been negligent in praying, but somehow, I expected that in this spirit-filled atmosphere that we would stop and pray against the wave, the backlash that I sensed was coming. But corporately, we didn’t. I was shocked that Castile’s death wasn’t even mentioned. We went on with business as usual. It was a prosperity convention, and all the speakers stuck to that theme, and the preservice prayer was devoid of anything related to the deaths of either man. That night five Dallas police officers lost their lives.
I wrestled with how in a time of prophetic corporate prayer, in a Word of Faith atmosphere, filled with worship and believers of every skin tone that we could be so off base with what we focused on in prayer and in the sermons that were delivered that day. To their credit the next day, the leadership said that someone on the prayer team was sensing a need to pray for the city, and the leaders admittedly missed it and stayed with praying for the conference. The corporate prayers for the city never went up.
Stop. It may seem like I’m bashing the Word of Faith, the Copelands, prosperity preachers, I most definitely am not. I hold every leader at that convention in the highest regard. I hold Word of Faith teaching on healing and prosperity as closely to my heart as any other spiritual ideal. The truth is that they missed it just as I had missed it.
I accepted the apology of the leader who said that they missed it, but I was hurt and angry because I didn’t believe it took the Word of the Lord to know that black people would respond in the full spectrum of emotions from grief and shock to outrage and violence. Again I wondered how could spirit-filled people, at what I considered to be at the highest end of the spirit-filled food chain, miss it so badly?
In my book “The Making of A Great America Where the Founding Fathers and the Church Fell Short,” I refer to a blind spot for many of our white evangelical leaders. I think the failure to address the deaths of two black men at the hands of the police at the convention very vividly highlighted this blindspot. There was no prayer or outcry for the young men who were murdered by the police. It was only the following day when the police officers were murdered, that we prayed for the nation, the families of the men shot by the police, and the officers who lost their lives and their families.
That day in 2016 feels kind of like current times. From my vantage point, many white evangelical leaders were a little slow to address the death of George Floyd from the pulpit, specifically condemning the racism and the unmistakably excessive, and in this case fatal, use of force by the police. Many seemed to get engaged after the protests became violent, and the police were harmed. Then the narrative in several white churches in my area seemed to be against violence by the protesters, stopping the looters, forgiveness, or the “cultural issues” of our time.
Eze 22:30 (CSB) says, “I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.” I believe that after Philando Castile died in 2016, God was searching for someone to stand in the gap against the spirit of racism. I failed to do so. I did not pray against black on white racism, and the racial backlash that I knew was coming. I felt that the predominantly white leaders of the convention on that day failed to stand in the gap for African Americans who were grappling with the undeserved deaths of two men, on back to back days, at the hands of police.
In 2020, history is repeating itself. On Feb 27th, Ahmaud Arberry was shot to death while jogging in a modern-day lynching by a retired police officer and his son. On March 13th Breonna Taylor was shot eight times as police with a “no-knock” warrant fired over 20 shots into her home as part of a drug search. And although George Floyd was not killed by the police until May 25th, from a national media perspective, the events seemed much closer together. The events seemed closer in large part due to delays in charging the suspects in the murder of Ahmaud Arberry and delays in charging the officers who fired into Breonna Taylors’s apartment (Though one of the officers was fired for “‘extreme violations’ of the department’s policies” there still have been no charges filed against the officers.)
In “Founding Fathers,” I challenged the readers with the notion of whether practicing racism was a sin. In this book, I will unequivocally show that it is.
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