“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” — John 17:11 (ESV)
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV)
Fort Lauderdale attracts many tourists to the miles of beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and to the seemingly endless waterways. An average annual temperature of 77 degrees and thousands of hours of sunshine make this city a popular vacation destination. On January 6, however, many hopes and dreams of celebrations were shattered. A lone gunman wounded 54 people and took the lives of five others. They had just completed their flight into the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Many of the passengers had plans to embark on cruises out of nearby Port Everglades.
A United Response
As reports emerged of the devastating shooting, His Church was deployed into action to demonstrate the love of Jesus amid these heartbreaking moments. The pain of these visitors became the pain of the Church of South Florida. Church United, an established partnership of 50 local churches spanning several denominations and three counties, sent out a call to pray, with offers of food and lodging to the grieving families and to those injured. Standing alongside city leaders, first responders and fellow residents deeply affected by the tragedy, Church United pastors released an official statement that said, “As we grieve, may we also remember that our hope lies in the Prince of Peace. As we pray, let us ask the God of all comfort to gently remind us all that He is near, that He is present, and that His love is greater than evil.”
The Blessing of Unity
Along with gathering quarterly for worship, this partnership is committed to pray and fast the first Wednesday of every month. They are also sponsoring a night of worship to exalt God, who is our hope amid tragedy, and to offer praise to Him for gathering His Church to be His hands and feet. Learning that most of those affected by the airport shooting were visitors, a mercy fund was quickly established to convey Jesus’ message of hope and love in the spirit of the Good Samaritan. Broward Health, the medical center caring for all those hospitalized, has sent a letter to all 54 patients stating that their out-of-pocket medical expenses have been paid in full by the local churches of the community. These unified local churches have discovered the blessing of unity as they make Kingdom impact in the name of Jesus.
Jesus Is Interceding
Just before His earthly departure, Jesus prayed to the Father to protect His disciples from a world filled with darkness and an enemy who works hard to steal, kill and destroy the people God loves. (John 10:10) In addition, Jesus intercedes for all believers to be one.
We are in a battle in this world, but we know King Jesus has ultimately triumphed. As His Church, we seek the Lord in humility to preserve us in the pattern of unity found within the Trinity. Displaying the glory of God’s presence among us by His Spirit and by our love, let us reach out to the heartbroken with the promise of the One who provides an anchor in the storms of life. Then may our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ draw them closer to Himself.
Our God Hears,