Local churches planning to take their message to the streets
By John L. Byrwa
I ain’t blind
And I don’t like what I think I see
Takin’ it to the streets
Many people will probably recognize the preceding lines as lyrics from the popular hit song performed by the legendary rock group called the Doobie Brothers.
And while it’s not known if Bishop William Sheals, the passionate pastor at Hopewell Baptist Church in Norcross, is familiar with either the song or the Doobie Brothers, he is definitely not blind.
And rest assured that Bishop Sheals, like many concerned citizens, most certainly does not like what he sees.
Right: Bishop William Sheals
“My heart has been heavy for several years now about where we’re going in our country,” Bishop Sheals says with more than a touch of sadness in his deep voice. “I’m disappointed in our politicians as well with all the infighting. We need to stop all this infighting, and we need to address the problems.
“But before we address the problems in our country, we need to address the problems in our homes. Charity begins at home, love begins at home.”
And, the laws of nature tell us, that which is cultivated in the home eventually grows in the community. Which is why Bishop Sheals, along with a handful of other Gwinnett pastors as well as local philanthropist Clyde Strickland, are joining together to take their Christian message directly to communities throughout our county.
No official plans have been finalized yet, and the list of churches that will be participating has yet to be set, but you can expect to see in many common places around Gwinnett County a very public and a very vocal expression of faith.
According to Bishop Sheals, Strickland and others, the plan is for area churches to take to the streets, so to speak, and spread their message of God and of Christianity to any and all who will listen. These services are expected to take place in town squares, in the shadow of city halls and courthouses, and anywhere else leaders feel they will be most effective.
“I’ve asked all of our congregations throughout the country to go to their local city hall, the courthouse, wherever it’s convenient for them, and gather for prayer,” said Foley Beach, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and pastor of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville. “Pray for their community, pray for our leaders, pray for our elections, and pray for a revival. Prayer changes things, it really does.
“We want this to be a spark for a spiritual awakening in all of our communities, for people to get back to God. And that begins with prayer, prayer by God’s people.”
Not surprisingly, Bishop Sheals points to the Bible as the impetus for this movement to bring God’s word directly to the people, adding that Christians have been silent and marginalized for far too long.
“The Old Testament teaches us that healing comes through the church,” Bishop Sheals said. “Now, there are people who get healed on Sunday mornings, and in Bible studies and in church. But were not taking to the streets, the highways, the byways. We are God’s children and we should not be afraid to walk our streets and spread His message or be afraid to raise our young children.
Right: Archbishop Foley Beach
“2 Chronicles 7:14 says, ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
“But those of us who know it and believe it are hiding it,” Bishop Sheals added. “God says do not hide it in your hearts. We can’t just turn halfway. We are at the point where we need to make a 180-point turn. Our God is a God of reversal. He can reverse things. He has done it, He will do it, and He’s waiting on us, the Christians. He didn’t say politicians, or the army, or the economy. He said us as Christians.”
Bishop Sheals said that he and the others hope to have their plans in place in the next couple of weeks, and after that they will put them into action.