Baptist pastors unanimously call the public to "pray for peace in Chicagoland" to end the rising violence in the city.
According to the Baptist Press, several pastors in Chicago have raised the need for prayers in the face of mounting incidents of shootings that has left communities grappling in "darkness" and fear. The report cited the violent turnout of the July 4 weekend as hundreds were shot in various locations in the city, leaving 17 dead and 108 hurt including children.
Hillcrest Baptist Church Pastor Adron Robinson said in an interview with the Illinois Baptist that "these are difficult days in Chicagoland" but hope is not all lost because of God.
"These are difficult days in Chicagoland, but our God is able to work through all of our difficulties. Pray for peace in Chicagoland and pray for the churches of Chicagoland as we engage our communities for the glory of God," Robinson said.
Robinson, former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, also encouraged people to battle the "darkness" through the Gospel.
"And I would also encourage our brothers and sisters downstate to partner with Chicagoland churches to help in the battle to push back the darkness by shining the light of the Gospel," he added.
Robinson's call for prayer is echoed by another former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, Don Sharp, who explained the importance of prayer especially those who feel helpless in the face of all the violence happening in Chicago. Sharp, the first African American president of IBSA as per Baptist Press, is Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church's pastor.
"I have never felt so helpless for the city of my birth. Solutions seem to escape us," Sharp disclosed to the Baptist Press.
"Prayer is so very much needed during these trying times," he stressed.
New City Fellowship Pastor Edgar Rodriguez joins Robinson and Sharp in their call and is asking people to pray for "laborers as the community has gotten some increased gang activity" while he prays to "grow in favor with God and man, that doors would open to do life with those on the block."
Rodriguez has been advocating for the end in violence for a year now through prayer walks he conducts in neighborhoods and with people so that "Jesus enters their heart" and in turn "be a part of the change in that community," the Baptist Press reported.
The Illinois Baptist reported that Rodriguez started the prayer walk after the July 4, 2020 weekend shooting left 17 dead and 87 injured including two children aged seven and 14. In the first seven months of 2020 alone, there have been 400 deaths and 1,900 injured by gun violence in Chicago.
Sadly, the numbers have increased this year for the July 4 weekend shootings alone.
In addition, statistics from the Chicago Police Department show an 11.78% increase in shootings for 2021 at 1,613 incidents from 2020's 1,443, which is actually a 58.45% increase to that of 2019's. The Chicago Police Department statistics also show a 42.52% in homicides at 362 as of July 5 compared to 2019 records.
NPR reported that the increase in gun violence is not restricted to Chicago. The recorded 4th of July shootings this year for the country recorded 518 people injured and 189 people killed from 540 incidents based on the Gun Violence Archive data. This encompass major shootings for Texas, Ohio, Virginia, and Chicago.
In line with the increase in gun violence, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown assured the public of their efforts to continue to keep the city safe for everyone. Brown annnounced two days after July 4 that they have already 6,100 guns in their custody.
"We will not relent in our fight against gun violence to protect the people of Chicago. I just want to acknowledge the hard work, the bravery and courage it takes in the most challenging time to be a Police Officer in law enforcement," he said on Thursday.
Two of those who died during the July 4 weekend shootings in Chicago were police officers and the 28-year-old culprit has been arrested.