My wife Wendy and I were in the USA when the tragic news of the death of Princess Diana swept round the world. The shock and horror of the event was hardly believable.
What seemed even more incomprehensible came on the heels of that heartbreaking event. Day by day American television reported crowds of English people flocking into their city centres bringing bunches of flowers. The bundles began to mount in an apparently unending display of remorse and wretchedness.
Today the world looks on at another phenomenon taking place in our English cities. Wrecked vehicles, burning buildings, (mostly) young people shamelessly, callously looting from their local shops and destroying their neighbour’s property.
This morning as I was praying, I was reminded of an extraordinary prophecy given to Ginny Burgin, a lady in one of the Newfrontiers churches. She received it on May 18th, three months before Princess Diana’s dramatic death. It included, ‘I am at work in the heart and the spirit of the people of this nation. I am doing a work which at the moment is very much unseen but it is happening quicker than you think. Things are happening much more than you think, and this shall be a sign that there will be a day very soon when the whole nation will mourn and the whole nation will put flowers in their cities.’
God is still sovereign
As people reel under the impact of these last few days, as police and fire services labour, and radio and television pundits deplore this outbreak of violence; as our Prime Minister acknowledges, ‘It is clear that there are things badly wrong in our society,’ and as Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, states, ‘Something’s changed in the last 30 years. We’ve got to find out what it is.’ We who believe in a sovereign Lord who answers prayer must continue to work and pray, build churches for the glory of God and demonstrate compassion and urgency in our gospel preaching.
What can we do?
We must gather communities of love, tenderness and mercy, and display the kind of gospel clarity that has turned our nation in the past through the ministries of such men as Whitefield and Wesley, Spurgeon and Booth.
I have been so encouraged to see people on the streets working to clear things up in the way that our Newday young people have modelled. Pastors have been gathering people to pray. Now is not a time to react with harshness nor to tremble with fear but to stand strong, seek God and make Jesus known to our generation with confidence that God ‘is at work in the heart and spirit of the people of this nation’.
When political leaders begin to openly acknowledge, ‘things are badly wrong in our society’, and ‘something’s changed in the last 30 years’, the church must be ready to provide answers and demonstrate a contrasting lifestyle for the glory of God.