A Letter From Phil: Recent Events & The Ministry Of Reconciliation

Phil Strout

National Director of Vineyard USA

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” | 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Friends,

These are troubling times in which we live. Today I am grieved, along with you and every person who cares about justice and good will in our nation, over the events of the past few days.

The shocking killings of two young black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas, leave us all reeling as we face the harsh realities of our world today.

These tragic events reveal both our deep brokenness and our desperate need for God as a people. These incidents have also stirred deep wells of pain, fear, anger, and frustration across our land – especially in, but not limited to, our African American communities.

As a movement, the Vineyard has always been committed to speak up for the voiceless, to care for the vulnerable, and to bring good news to those who are weak (Luke 4:18). We have also been committed to the ministry of reconciliation, actively walking into arenas of relational chaos to bring the peace-giving presence of Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

Grieving with those who grieve (Rom. 12:15), we have the opportunity to express love from the community of Christ to the aching hearts of our cities and towns. We also have the opportunity to invite people into our lives who are feeling vulnerable in light of the recent news.

It is important for us to publicly recognize the pain the African American community continues to feel in light of tragedies like these, and to stand in solidarity with those who are both grieving (Rom. 12:15) and vulnerable (Prov. 31:8).

It is also important that we publicly recognize the sorrow we mutually bear as Americans, as the shootings of courageous law enforcement officers underscore again our desperate need for a hope that pierces all darkness.

While we cannot address every situation of need at this time of turbulence, I encourage you to call your church to be healing agents in your neighborhoods through prayer and community participation.

In the coming weeks, I invite you to join me in prayer:

  • For all the families impacted by these killings,
  • For our African American neighbors overwhelmed by uncertainty,
  • For our law enforcement communities, and
  • For those who are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) in these times of distress.

I would also encourage us to join together in prayerful action:

  • Reaching out to the vulnerable in your sphere of influence,
  • Working toward reconciliation in your relational networks, and
  • Bringing the light of Christ to shine brightest in the places where hope seems most dim.

Jesus came to reconcile us to God, and us to one another. As followers of Christ we are a people of reconciliation, who believe that in the face of our struggles there is a God who can heal the deepest animosities of the heart.

As we act vitally in compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, and intercession, we also join with the Spirit of God in groaning for our Lord’s return to bring His new creation to our world (Rev. 22:17a). For now, we partner with Him in wiping away tears and working to heal the wounds that bring such sorrow in these moments.

In the grip of God’s sustaining Love,

Phil Strout
Vineyard USA National Director