A Response to Ferguson



“We worship God through our questions.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

In the wake of a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision related to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, we seek strength, direction and resolve through our faith. The decision, in and of itself, brings no resolution for those of us who live in Ferguson, for any particular demographic segment of our nation, or for humanity as a whole. Two families remain forever changed. A community is left struggling to coexist. The people of Ferguson will continue the hard work of reconciling differences as we strive to understand, trust and listen to each other. And we will continue searching for ways to sustain our hope in systems, leaders and practices.

Yet, whether we acknowledge it (or understand it) or not, every single one of us—inside the city limits of Ferguson and out—remains subject to a series of longstanding historical and cultural problems. Look at the faces of the children in your family, your neighborhood, your congregation. This generation, like yours and mine, is forced to wrestle with the unresolved issues and questions of the generations preceding us. There are more questions than answers.

This is the inherent nature of faith.

One biblical account in particular keeps coming to my mind in these days. It is one that raises suspense and suspicion, and leaves its readers with more questions than answers. It is a story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. As brothers they are linked together in a variety of ways, and are meant to be a community of two. But, for some unexplained and unclear reason, Abel is regarded differently than the other. Animosity exists between them.

These brothers’ relationship is representative of humanity. As humans, we too are linked together in a variety of ways. And yet as a community we are irresponsible, inattentive and insensitive toward our very selves—the brothers and sisters in our human community. We continue to mimic Cain’s morally reprehensible interrogative, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The rhetorical but relevant question posited by God, “Where is your brother Abel?” remains unanswered. Abel’s blood still cries out, along with the blood of too many young men, women, boys and girls of diverse races in near and faraway places. They are cries of retribution, cries of retaliation and cries of reprisal demanding a response. That is why…

When faced with disgrace, God dispenses grace. God’s response to Cain’s disgraceful act and remonstration of Abel’s blood from the ground is a powerful witness. It reveals how Christians can exercise grace while grappling with the complexities of unresolved and unjust issues.

To read the entire essay from Dr. Johnson at MinistryMatters.com, please click HERE.

A third-generation educator, Dr. F. Willis Johnson is the senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri, a predominately African-American intergenerational urban church plant.


  1. We are in the last days. Besides the major Books of the Bible that predict the signs of the end times, these smaller books point to the same end, Habakkuk, Haggai,James, and Jude. One of these describes our monetary system and paychecks as being coins in a sack with holes in it. Also wages are not paid righteously to the worker. Our Churches do not have Ministers that preach the Gospel as they once did years ago. Although many things are wrong, we need to rejoice in the Lord, and have Joy in the God of our salvation. Selah

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