By:  Lisa Misner-Illinois Baptist

CHICAGO (BP) – Pastors are calling for prayer after the long July Fourth holiday weekend came to a violent end with at least 108 people shot in Chicago, 17 fatally.

“These are difficult days in Chicagoland, but our God is able to work through all of our difficulties,” pastor Adron Robinson told the Illinois Baptist. Robinson is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills and former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA).

“Pray for peace in Chicagoland and pray for the churches of Chicagoland as we engage our communities for the glory of God,” he said. “And I would also encourage our brothers and sisters downstate to partner with Chicagoland churches to help in the battle to push back the darkness by shining the light of the Gospel.”

According to Chicago Police Department statistics, violence has increased dramatically in 2021. As of July 5, the city recorded 362 homicides this year. That is 42.52 percent higher than in 2019. The same statistics show shootings are up by 11.78 percent over 2020 – from 1,443 to 1,613 incidents. Gun violence is up 58.45 percent from the same time in 2019.

Don Sharp is pastor of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church in Chicago and also a former IBSA president, the first African American to serve in the role.

“Prayer is so very much needed during these trying times,” Sharp said. “I have never felt so helpless for the city of my birth. Solutions seem to escape us.”

Pastor and church planter Edgar Rodriguez continues to minister with his family in their Humboldt Park neighborhood. Last year, he led several prayer marchesthrough some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, seeking an end to the violence. He hasn’t given up. Rodriguez asks Baptists to pray for “laborers as the community has gotten some increased gang activity.” He asks for boldness in sharing Christ, but also for safety. The church planter said he prays to “grow in favor with God and man, that doors would open to do life with those on the block.”

At a news conference Tuesday (July 6), Chicago police Superintendent David Brown blamed part of the problem on the release of “over 90 people who have committed murder creating an unsafe environment for all of us.” He claimed courts releasing suspects with ankle monitors is leading to “street justice and retaliation.”

Brown expressed openness to the faith community becoming more involved in efforts to stop the violence. “We’re open to anything that keeps young people occupied with something good,” he said.

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