As I drove over the Ouachita River Bridge in the year 2000, I began to weep as I felt God's prompting growing ever stronger to make a stand against the spirits that have had held this city captive for generations. The river that separated Monroe and West Monroe was a sober symbol of the spiritual division and racial disharmony that had enslaved this region. We have suffered too long from intolerance and prejudice - like a would that refuses to heal. I have seen dramatic social change take place for the good in the United States. It is evident in our schools, our workplaces, our sports, and in our music: everywhere - except the church. There is no place more segregated in America than a Sunday morning church service. So I ask you (as I asked myself), "How can we present the whole Body of Christ to a broken world when we are dismembered? As our cities watch us piously sit on our black-church/white-church pews, we are not demonstrating the power of a risen Savior, but that of a prejudiced god. This is the real nemesis of the church. While we defend our miniature fortresses of religious tradition, the true enemy goes unchallenged, pillaging and conquering our city at will.
God has sent a cry to the truly hungry to fulfill the unanswered prayer of Christ, "That they might one, just as my Father and I are one." Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't just have a dream. He was willing to march outside the walls of comfortable tradition. Every dream needs willing hands and feet to carry it out. We must all remember we serve a color blind Lord. With this conviction on August 4, 2000, First Lady and I (along with our three children) founded Power Church International in a tent on 165 South in Monroe. We began to march with no members and no contacts. We took all of our savings to sow the first seed into the soil of Power Church International.
Two weeks later we moved into a storefront on Louisville Avenue in Monroe. We still did not have any support by way of finances or membership, but we believed with all our hearts that God called us to build a church without the walls of racial and social division and religious labels. Six months later, we moved into our first building in West Monroe. Many people heard the Call of change and boldly followed in our footsteps. I was recently paid a high compliment when a guest made the observation that he knew our vision was credible when he saw our leadership was multi-ethnic and that our church really did look like our area.
We marched from our church in West Monroe, LA across the Endom Bridge to Monroe, LA to the courthouse steps. As a symbol of racial healing and reconciliation, my congregation watched as I, their 'white' Bishop, got down on my hands and knees and repented for the sins of our fathers while I shined the shoes of our 'black' mayor, Jamie Mayo.
I prayed for God to heal the Racial strife and wounds of the past that we may come together as ONE to accomplish His work and I PRAYED FOR YOU! Yes, you! That God would call the truly hungry to join us in bringing change.
First Lady and I cut our vacation short to go to Jena, LA. All day Wednesday I had an intense, weeping burden for our region. I will not sleep tonight, even as I drive through the night headed for the little town that has such huge spiritual significance. I know the rally is only the beginning of our laborious task of healing the bitter wounds of prejudice that have never healed here. The gross injustice that has caught national attention is only a symptom of a regional malady. I know - I founded an interracial church in the same area. I know what it is to be called a "n____ lover" by white haters. I have also felt the icy blast of hatred from others who have told some of my own children in the Gospel not to go to that "white man's" church. It is time to GET HONEST & REPENT of the sins of our fathers -- even if you're like most people who don't hate, yet you stand silent and say, "It's someone else's problem."
Apathy is the killing sin of our region. Evil reigns where the righteous stand silent! Someone cut the infamous tree down at the center of the "Jena 6" disaster. The tree wasn't the real problem: it's the roots of hate and racism that lie hidden beneath the dirt of generational injustice. Let the church find her voice and demand JUSTICE and Kingdom Unity! Please don't tell us you love PEOPLE WHEN YOUR CHURCH HAS ONLY ONE COLOR. Stop the lie!
Seth Hanchey was 17-years-old at the time of the accident. He was serving as a full-time youth pastor at PCI and was also a full-time nursing student. An avid athlete, he had begun training for the Ironman Triathlon and was on a 60-mile bicycle ride when he was struck from behind by a van driven by an 81-year-old woman. He struck the hood, caved in the windshield, and was thrown over 167ft before landing on the highway against a concrete ridge guardrail. Seth died twice at the scene.
He was airlifted to LSU hospital in Shreveport and underwent emergency surgery to remove the left side of his skull due to the swelling of his brain. He was not expected to live through the night.
A catastrophic flood devastated our region and left the church building under 3ft of standing water for weeks. We lost everything. But the church is so much more than just a building!