“...seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7
I’ve been hearing my pastor speak, mutter, and pray this scripture for weeks now. As I hear sirens and helicopters, as I pass sleeping bodies in trash-laden makeshift shelters, even altars to the recently slain, there is a growing cadence in my heart – peace, blessing, healing, wholeness, righteousness, justice, life. Come Lord, bring your peace and the prosperity of your shalom.
Nipsey Hussle, a rising rap artist who grew up in LA, was shot outside his store this year on Crenshaw and Slauson. This young man, though troubled and gang affiliated as a youth, was turning things around in his neighborhood for the good by pouring his resources back into the community. Starting up businesses, creating community work space with his Vector-90 project, and providing a place for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes to be offered to the youth, to name a few. What his spiritual faith and practices were, I don’t know, but he had faith that his corner of the city could be turned from its violent gang affiliated reputation into a good and prosperous identity that offered resources and hope. His death caused waves of lament in our city and beyond.
In the wake of the mourning, my pastor and a friend put out a call for pastors in the area to come together to listen and pray. In a classroom a block away from Nipsey’s store, The Marathon Clothing, we circled up and prayed. I heard these faithful leaders confessing and crying out for unity of the body of Christ, for the salvation and renewal of our fathers and boys, for repentance, for healing, for revival. In the neighborhood and through the crowds outside his store we listened and prayed with and for people.
Lord may your name be lifted up in this city. You are our true hope. Come, bring your peace, your shalom. Pray for these men and women who lead churches in the city. Pray for their purity and humility, their intimacy with Christ, that Christ may work in power through their ministry to bring eternal change in the lives of the Crenshaw District and beyond.