A horrific tragedy occurred on Friday, December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut as a gunman killed many adults and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Like many of you, I was saddened as I saw the photos, watched interviews, and saw President Obama choke up as he addressed the nation and heard of the innocent lives that were taken. Our country has been reminded of the reality of sin and the need of hope that comes through Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for Pastor John Piper’s writing and Dr. Al Mohler’s writing which both communicate this so clearly.
As I continue to process the images and stories, I have been gripped with a reality that is even closer to my home than Connecticut, my very own beloved New Orleans. In no way do I want to diminish or downplay the severity of this tragedy. But this type of tragic news is unfortunately an all too common occurrence in New Orleans. Over the last two years I remember only a few nights that our local news hasn’t opened with “Tonight there was a triple shooting/murder/drive by in the Central City/Ninth Ward/insert community of your choice.” Sadly, right now the city of New Orleans experiences a death toll which Sandy Hook experienced this week on a regular basis. In fact Richard Florida, founder and editor of The Atlantic Cities, has written that the majority of gun homicides that occur in America are in the largest metro cities, mainly concentrated in the center of the city. The city of New Orleans is #1 on the list of gun related deaths.
New Orleans is such a beautiful city filled with so much excitement right now. From the upcoming Super Bowl to Mardi Gras to community development to education reform in the schools, this city is transforming. In the midst of these changes, New Orleans remains the “Murder Capital of the US.” I’m thankful that my wife, Sarah, and I have never personally felt threatened over the last five years of living in New Orleans. But I know that this isn’t the experience for so many other families in my city. Many experience on a regular basis the devastation and tragedy of having a loved one taken by another’s hate-filled actions. Brokenness exists in many forms in all communities in this city, but there are some communities where it seems deeper, and these are where the murders are centralized.
In response our Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, developed a holistic plan. He continually reiterates eliminating this problem of violence will take a collaborative effort among businesses, schools, government, families and even the Church.
Amazingly, there is something beginning to stir within the churches in this city. The Lord is moving. I do not believe this is unrelated. I invite you to pray for a movement of the Lord that will truly transform the city of New Orleans. As the different social, political and educational agencies work together, the church also should be in the center of the work of transforming New Orleans. The church has the hope that Jesus Christ offers through His death, burial and resurrection. It’s the hope that will transform the city of New Orleans from the core. And a hope that will truly endure.
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” — Jeremiah 29:7