God bless the parents.
God bless the parents of children who have been wronged, misunderstood, who have disappeared…and who have been murdered.
God bless them because they will not give up.
Their quest for justice is Biblical in its tenacity. It is so powerful to watch, but it is a space, a place, that no parent wants.
Their quest for justice is driven by their love for their children, which will not be crushed by injustice and those who feed them paltry stories that they are supposed to take lying down.
It is Biblical.
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 18:1, the “parable of the persistent widow,” it reads, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.”
The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been praying and working for justice since their son died. The story of Kendrick squeezing his body into a rolled up wrestling mat just did not make sense. Authorities told them he had died accidentally and the case was closed. The authorities “neither feared God nor what people thought.” People in power are sometimes, perhaps often, like that, and in America, as concerns black people dying, authorities have been able to stonewall those who have sought justice and get away with it for years. “We the people” are really supposed to sit down and shut up and just take what we’re given, and many times, we acquiesce, probably most often because we do not have the financial resources to proceed.
But sometimes, no matter the cost, acquiescence is not an option. Sometimes, a situation screams for someone to fight for justice and truth. Sometimes, a crazy faith has to kick in that “the Lord will make a way” some way…and “we the people,” aka, “the persistent widow,” put ourselves out there and do what we must as we plead,”Grant me justice against my adversary.”
The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been sitting outside the state house in Valdosta, Georgia for months, “bothering” their adversary, the justice system of Lowndes County, for …justice. In a story which appeared on the CNN blog, reporters noted:
For months, the family’s quest for answers went nowhere. It took until May for autopsy results to be issued, and then the sheriff’s office said the investigation had been closed.
The sheriff’s office and school officials resisted the family’s request to obtain school surveillance images and other records, citing state law that exempts the release of “education records of a minor child.”
After months of pursuing official answers and getting nowhere, they began staging daily rallies. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/31/justice/georgia-gym-mat-death/)
Even as the Johnson parents seek justice, Sybrina Fulton is still seeking justice in the death of her son, Trayvon Martin. She, too, faced her adversary, a non-sympathetic House panel, asking that something be done about “stand your ground” laws. In what feels like a slap in the face to an outside observer, I can only wonder how Ms. Fulton “held on” as she listened to Sen. Cruz defend “stand your ground,” saying that the law protects black people, too. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/29/ted-cruz-explains-to-trayvon-martins-mother-how-stand-your-ground-laws-help-protect-the-black-community-at-senate-hearing/)
I guess he doesn’t know, or hasn’t heard, about Marissa Alexander. She is the African-American woman who got sentenced to 20 years in prison for “standing her ground” and firing a shot into the air to protect herself. That law did nothing to protect her.
But back to Sybrina Fulton, a mother whose heart must still burst with pain on a daily basis as she mourns the loss of her son, God bless her …God bless her because she will not stop. She is seeking justice.
There are other parents who have fought like gladiators for their children. Consider Beth Holloway, who fought for justice in the disappearance of her daughter, Natalie.
Their stories remind us, as Jesus said, that “we ought to always pray and not give up.” Prayer becomes not an isolated mumbling of words to a deity in these cases; prayer becomes dynamic action, driven by love and fueled by a faith that can only be called crazy.
Yes…I am referring to “crazy faith,” that which I wrote about in my last book, Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives. I am seeing it more and more. “Crazy faith” means we “pray and not give up,” prayer that moves and causes others to move.
That’s what I am seeing in the parents of Kendrick Johnson and Trayvon Martin. I am sure there are others, many others. They are praying and not giving up. They will not faint. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
That is Biblical. That is powerfully Biblical.
A candid observation …
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