“We need to stop killing each other.”
This plea, printed in stark black letters on white signs impaled on lawns lining the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, greeted me as I drove to the “Healed Men Heal People” seminar I was giving for Ferguson pastors that night.
One of the pastors at the seminar confirmed the need for the signs: though it was only the middle of February, he had already officiated at over 13 gang related funerals since the beginning of the year–four in just the previous week.
Ferguson was the first pastors’ seminar in a project I’m calling “Healed Men Heal People.” The Lord laid this on my heart at the National Coalition of Ministries to Men annual conference back in November of last year. I had been thinking about the riots in Ferguson as well as the stomach-churning mass shootings in San Bernardino, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Roseberg, Oregon; Chattanooga, Tennessee and on and on. They shared one common denominator: almost all of the perpetrators were men.
The question came to my mind, “If Satan can produce men who bring about permanent change for evil by destroying lives, families and entire communities, then shouldn’t the church produce men who can bring about permanent change for good by surrounding those who have been affected by this evil with the love of Christ?” Hence the title, “Healed Men Heal People.”
And so I scheduled a seminar in Ferguson and an upcoming one in San Bernardino, California.
Of course the first question is, how do you get Ferguson pastors together to listen to you? My solution was to do a modern version of one of Christ’s commands: I went out into the “highways and byways” of Google Maps and bid them come in. This rather tedious process rendered a four per cent response rate. I invited eighty pastors and three showed up.
Not exactly an overwhelming response, especially since the room we were meeting in could easily hold over one hundred people. But the response at the end of the seminar was overwhelming. When I finished, the pastor of the host church immediately sprang to his feet and and blurted out: “If you’ll come back, I’ll have this room filled with pastors!” He said he would even put on a dinner.
And so I’ll be returning to Ferguson, Missouri, on October 13 to do the same seminar all over again. And by the grace of God, we will flood Ferguson with hundreds of men who know how to practice the love of Christ toward widows, widowers, single parents and grieving mothers.
Herb and Patti Reese