I’ve started a list of things that I never thought I’d see or do as a pastor. Having the FBI come and visit is definitely on the list.
Last week I was working in my office and a young man came and stood in the door and asked to see Pastor Kline. Since most of my flock call me Pastor John, I figured he was a salesman. (Believe it or not, pastors get a lot of sales calls. It drives us crazy and it’s so disruptive). He asked if he could see me and I was a bit short with him, telling him I only had a few minutes. He introduced himself and gave me his card. He’s from the FBI.
I offered him coffee.
He asked me if I’d spit in it.
I kid you not.
That struck me as odd. Obviously he was joking. But only sort of. As he talked about why he was here, his initial defensiveness became understandable. He was here because as he reached out to people who work with immigrants and refugees, Zion kept coming up. Everywhere. So he wanted to offer the FBI’s help with any civil right’s issues we might encounter. Then I understood why he was defensive. There’s a lot of tension around immigration issues in our country. I think he thought that our level of involvement with immigrants might mean that we were radicalized politically. Such a place would not be pleased to have the Feds around. I explained we were just serving Jesus, our Master, who was a refugee himself.
Then he asked what we did to help refugees. I told him. He asked to come back with his boss. I assured him that the FBI was welcome.
This week the man returned with his boss. I was struck again by what I felt was a defensiveness from my guests. Turns out, a lot of people, apparently, refer to these civil servants as “Jack Booted Thugs.” I asked if the FBI would come and speak to the various immigrant communities we work with at Zion. Yes, they would. But... We had to be polite. They were pretty clear that while the FBI respected everybody, they also expected to be respected. Oh. Well, of course. We’re a church. We love everybody. I guess that some of these meetings get out of hand. Sad.
So, we’re setting up an opportunity for the FBI to meet the community. They will talk about civil rights, hate crimes and terrorism. Sounds like a fine agenda. So far, the community is responding very positively.
What I’m hoping for is that God will use this coming together to build our community stronger and healthier. It’s my prayer that this meeting will lead to peace and love and joy further breaking out in our city. The various communities will hear how the FBI is here to serve them and the FBI will hear the fears and concerns and questions of the community. And I’ll be in the back row, praying. Praying that our city will be a bright light, a shining city on a hill. I’d ask you to join me in this prayer.
The words of an Iraqi diplomat who visited our church last month still ring in my ears. “If a church had reached out to our community in Detroit like yours has here, things would be so much better for us than they are today.”
We’re called to be salt and light. We’re called to be reconcilers. Pray we stay the course and this newest opportunity to serve brings glory to God and peace to our city. Thanks for reading. God bless. PJ