“Can I come live with you at your house?” said CiCi, an African-American girl.
“Hmm! I’ll have to think about that,” I whispered, shocked by her request.
Over the following few days, I pondered the possibilities of CiCi living with me and the life which she would then have. Her mom was on crack and her dad was an unemployed, druggie-alcoholic. Their home, which was near the inner city church I attended, was a nightmarish gulag, filled with turmoil and fear. CiCi, only six years old, desperately wanted to escape and hoped I would be her rescuer.
But being single, I eventually had to say no.
This happened seventeen years ago. CiCi would be twenty-three years old today…if she’s still alive.
Now, I hadn’t thought about CiCi or the inner cities for a long time, that is, not until I watched the following four minute video:
If you watch the video, you’ll soon notice it has nothing to do with America’s inner cities. Instead, it shows Christians who have suffered cruel persecutions in North Korea, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan and other nations for their faith. These people have been through the fire, their faith tested and now they are golden vessels for His glory.
What dawned on me while watching the video is that we have few (if any) golden vessels in America like these believers. Yes, we have numerous preachers who can teach what to do in the face of upcoming persecutions. But this is just textbook teaching when compared to how the Apostle Paul taught:
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. (Philippians 3:17)
Not only did Paul talk the talk, he walked the walk. He was imprisoned often, beaten often, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked three times, swam in a raging sea for twenty-four hours, lived in constant peril, hunger, thirst, cold and exposure. His life stood as a perfect prototype for early Christians to model their own lives after.
Paul’s words help us today, but still, we need modern Pauls, golden vessels who have been through the fires. Where will they come from?
In 1994, I prophesied at an inner city church: “There is a voice crying out in the inner cities of America and it is saying, ‘I want to be free. I want to be free. Oh Lord, I want to be free.'”
As I prophesied, the voice of the inner cities reminded me of Israel’s sighing, groaning and crying out to God because of their bondage in Egypt. I also felt God had heard the inner city voice and was ready to move to set the captives free.
Not long after the prophecy, I had a vision in which I saw a black river flowing out of the inner cities of America. This black river streamed into the other cities and towns of our nation. As I watched on, the black river became magnified and I saw that the river consisted of African-American men. They were apostles and prophets, heading out to preach their message, “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
These African-American men were not your normal preachers wearing dark suits and white shirts. But instead, they wore black Oakland Raider tee-shirts and baseball caps. Their bodies were scarred with needle marks, knife cuts and gun wounds. The looks on their faces showed an inner resolve which said, “Get out of my way. I’m determined to do the will of God.” Yet, in their eyes, I saw the overwhelming love of Jesus.
Since the prophecy and vision, has life improved in America’s inner cities? Conditions have so deteriorated that the inner cities are now considered gang war zones.
For example, in Los Angeles, gang related homicides in areas like Compton and South LA account for over half of the city’s murders. If these murders were not figured into the total number of homicides, LA would be one of the safest cities in the world. But because of the gang related deaths, LA ranks as one of the ten worst cities for murder in America, along with Washington D.C., Detroit and Philadelphia.
To counter this, billions of dollars have been spent by government and charitable agencies to alleviate the suffering in the inner cities, but the money has had little effect. Misery and anguish continues unabated and little girls still hope and say, “Can I come and live with you at your house?”
And yet, I feel the inner cities are the exact places where God will create His golden vessels to be our Paul prototypes. How can this happen?
(Continued in Part 2)