Last week, a protest in front of a mosque in Phoenix made local and international news as the media reported a clash between about 250 heavily armed protesters and an equal number of counter-protesters.
A lesser reported aspect of the story is the Church’s presence in the midst of this demonstration: With fewer than 24 hours’ notice, more than 150 Christians from dozens of Phoenix-area churches assembled to form a peaceful line between the protesters and the mosque in what they called the “Love Your Neighbor Rally.”
“We wanted to demonstrate the pattern of the cross–being compelled by the love of Christ to put ourselves in harm’s way for the sake of the other (Phil 2:6-11, Col. 1:24),” says Jim Mullins, one of the leaders of this rally and a pastor at Redemption Church who has spent years building bridges between Christian and Muslim leaders in Phoenix.
The night before the protest, Jim shared a meal with the president of the mosque, asking how Christians could help keep the peace in a protest expected to spark violence. The president said he welcomed the Church at the mosque as a presence of peace; he suggested quietly standing on the sidewalk between the mosque and protesters.
On the hottest day of the year in the desert, tempers ran high and the potential for violence was real, but self governance, the capable Phoenix Police Department, the steady presence of the Church and the omnipotent grace of God made for an event that ended quietly.
“By the end of the night, there wasn’t one shot fired, one punch thrown, or one single arrest,” says Jim. “We called on the Prince of Peace for the welfare of the city (Jer. 29:7), and he heard our prayers.”
Read the full account from Jim’s perspective here.
– Mary Kaech
Mary serves as the manager of communications and support systems at the Disciple Nations Alliance. Her background includes five years at Food for the Hungry in a variety of roles from field reporting and photography to accounting for U.S. government grants. Mary earned a master’s degree at Arizona State University in social and cultural pedagogy and has a particular passion for refugees–helping resettled refugees flourish in their new homes. Mary lives with her husband, Mark, in Phoenix.