Dear Father, St. Paul’s AME Zion Church Pastor Anthony Morris, 49, has been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. His wife Zelda, 46, and daughter Kamali, 19, were also charged with first-degree felonies. According to victim and witness statements, the incident took place on Sunday at the Toledo, OH church. The victim, Nickema Turner, 39, was teaching a Sunday School class when Kamali attacked her. When Nickema attempted to defend herself, Anthony and Zelda joined the confrontation in defense of their daughter. The pastor pulled a gun and pointed it at Nickema, threatening her. The incident took place minutes before the morning church service. It has been reported that Zelda and Kamali were angered that the victim had an affair with the pastor. The pastor’s response has the appearances of an attempt to silence the victim to prevent scandal. Toledo Fire and Rescue treated the victim at the scene. Pastor Morris and Zelda were subsequently arrested. Father, the text on the church website reads:
We are honored to welcome you to the web site of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Toledo, OH. We thank God that you have taken the opportunity to visit us. We affirm God’s love, mercy, and grace for all, and pray His blessings upon you…We extend a warm and sincere invitation to you to join us here at St. Paul. We are a family-focused, multi-generational ministry. We honor the traditions of the elders, but we are also intentionally contemporary in our Worship Experience. We would be excited to welcome you to the family as we learn, love, and grow together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Father, it is clear that the events that occurred inside the church on Sunday are not in accordance with the message on the church website. The conflict was not an expression of God’s love, mercy, and grace for all. The incident sends the message that this “family” of brothers and sisters in Christ is apparently quite dysfunctional. Father, I ask that there will not be one person who is turned off from You because of this incident. I am confident that there are many believers in this church who deeply love You. They are probably mortified today that Your name was dishonored through the events that occurred on their church campus. It is no doubt traumatic to have Your pastor arrested minutes before the start of the weekly church service. I ask You to comfort and strengthen the faith of such people in this congregation. I ask that You will raise up godly leaders within the congregation to restore spiritual stability in the church. May this experience be a watershed moment that leads to the strengthening of the faith of this congregation. Father, I am sure You will sort out the justice. You know the true stories behind this incident and You will address the details with all involved. I do ask that Anthony, Zelda, Kamali, and Nickema will draw closer to You through this experience. Lead them to fully surrender their lives to Christ. Transform their hearts and minds. May an incredible testimony come out of this incident. Father, may one day all four of these people embrace one another in front of the very same congregation, speaking of the power of God-inspired forgiveness to heal and to restore relationships. Father, be present with those who were arrested. Protect them and watch over them. Amen.
Dear Father, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court imposed a new congressional district map yesterday for the state’s 2018 elections. Four of the five Democratic justices approved it with one Democratic justice siding with the two Republican justices against it. The defining of districts is critical to the results of elections. District A tends to vote conservative in most elections. District B tends to vote liberal in each election. By including a portion of District A within the Democratic-favoring District B, more votes will end up being cast for liberal candidates in District A. The result is that two liberal politicians may be elected instead of one conservative and one liberal. The situation also applies in the reverse, with the outcome of two conservative politicians being elected simply by the state redefining the congressional district map. With power in Washington at stake, the seemingly insignificant action by a state Supreme Court could have major impact upon the direction of the nation. According to reports, Republican lawmakers will challenge the redistricting in federal court, a challenge experts believe will be unsuccessful. Father, I thank You that You know all things. You are aware of every thought, word, and deed on this earth and the impact they have on humanity. Father, I ask You to guide and control the redistricting efforts in every state in America. May such efforts lead to the election results that You want to happen. May the people You want in office win elections regardless of any efforts to manipulate election results by public officials. Amen.
Dear Father, Jennifer Lawrence is an American actress who exploded into fame by starring in the hugely popular Hunger Games movies. She is now considered the highest grossing action heroine of all-time and one of the 100 most influential people in the world. It has been reported that she grew up in Kentucky with social anxieties. She felt like a misfit in school. She discovered that acting in church plays and school musicals made her feel more confident. A “chance” encounter with a talent scout on a New York City street during a family vacation changed her life. Her mother permitted her to pursue acting provided she finish her high school education. After completing her schooling early, she moved to Los Angeles and was cast on several television shows and movies before she became the star of The Hunger Games franchise. The Hunger Games movies have now grossed over $ 5.6 billion worldwide. She has starred in other movies during her career. Raised a Republican, Jennifer has become more liberal in Hollywood, taking stands for women’s rights, abortion rights, same sex marriage, and the fight against global warming. She has made clear her disapproval of President Trump, going so far as to associate natural disasters with “mother nature’s” disapproval of his election. She has used her platform and her wealth to address world poverty and hunger, Special Olympics, heart disease, and sexual harassment. She is in the news today because she said she is going to take the next year off from acting in order to encourage young people to fight corruption in both political parties. Father, I know You deeply love Jennifer Lawrence. You created her, knitting her together in her mother’s womb. You gave her the talents that she has used to achieve fame and fortune. You gave her the instinct to use her platform to fight for justice. She has much to be thankful to You for. However, like everyone else, she needs You. She is not God. Even the rich and famous have insecurities, anxieties, and weaknesses. They can be easily deceived by temptation to think they have no needs or that they can do all things. Father, Jennifer needs You. I ask that You will gently but effectively make her aware of her need for You. I ask that the religious training of her youth will come back for a visit and make a lasting good impression upon her. Lead her to Your Word. Encourage her to pray. Make her curious to ask questions about faith and make sure she understands the right answers. Give her divine encounters with godly people whose counsel she trusts. Father, I ask nothing less than this – may Jennifer Lawrence become an ambassador for Jesus Christ at some point in her future. In the meantime, provide for her. Protect her. Give her wisdom and success as she commits her time and resources to make this world a better place. May she invest in initiatives that are in alignment with Your will for America. Amen.