CHRISTIANS IN London have been encouraged to volunteer and serve their community at Standing Together, a rally held in London’s Trafalgar Square recently.
Rev Les Isaac, one of the visionaries behind the gathering, encouraged the 1,000-strong crowd to be part of the solution.
“God does not want spectators in his church,” he told them.
“All of us are challenged to put our hands to the plough and do something.
“We need to volunteer. We need to give our time, skill, energy, and intellect free of charge to our community.”
Standing Together was hosted by the Ascension Trust, the founders of Street Pastors, along with the Diocese of Southwark, Churches Together In Britain & Ireland and London City Mission.
The event hoped to bring Christians together to make a stand against knife crime and youth violence, and entreat believers to be part of the solution. The MCs for the day included Andy Frost and Rev Dr Rosemary Mallett, Karen Allen and Bishop Lenford Rowe.
The rally featured prayers of lament and repentance, prayers for peace and young people, and stories from those whose children had been victims of knife crime.
The prayers of lament were led by the Bishop of London. Contributors included Graham Miller of London City Mission and Bishop Tedroy Powell, leader of the Church of God of Prophecy. The testimonies from adults who’d lost children and relatives to youth crime were touching. One contributor, youth worker Hannah Bourazza talked about her 16-year-old son Nathaniel, who was fatally stabbed in 2012.
She said: “Nathaniel’s murder six and a half years ago has sometimes been the most loneliest and painful journey, but my faith has kept me going, my faith has kept me strong.” She told the crowd to support young people. “We have to help them navigate their lives,” she said.
There were also testimonies from the Brown family, whose son Russell was stabbed to death in 2016. His father encouraged people to be loving.
He said: “Let’s show our youth in the community we love and respect them. In return they will love and respect us.”
Sophie Linden, deputy mayor of London for youth and violence represented the mayor’s office. She said: “There are too many mothers and fathers weeping because their sons have been murdered. We will do everything we can in our power so we can tackle this violence we are seeing.”
As the event came to a close, prayers were said for young people, a gospel message was shared by Phil Knox, and the Bishop of Southwark and the Catholic Archbishop for Westminster addressed the crowd.
Rev Isaac told the crowd there were plans to maintain the momentum and organise a meeting to bring church leaders together to discuss further how they could work jointly to reduce knife crime.
He said: “We are determined to do something that will have a major impact on this generation of young people.”
In the next few weeks church leaders will be meeting to discuss a way forward and there are plans to hold an event on July 4.
Several Christian organisations gave their support to Standing Together including the Evangelical Alliance, Church of God of Prophecy, The Methodist Church, Church of God in Christ and the New Testament Assembly.
Church leaders present included Rev Nims Obunge of the Peace Alliance, Rev Ade Omooba of Christian Concern, Bishop Danny Bennett of Shiloh Church and Rev Yemi Adedeji of One People’s Commission.