Amid racial tension, violence and unrest across the United States, Potter's House founder Bishop T.D. Jakes warned against being "oblivious" to the plight of this nation and urged Christians to pray for peace and healing.
On Friday, hundreds gathered for a vigil at Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas following the shooting deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and five police officers. Bishop T.D. Jakes closed out the interfaith vigil with a powerful prayer, in which he urged churches of every color to come together and stand against injustice.
"Today is a very solemn occasion, and yet it is a hopeful occasion," the pastor said. "It is a time that the eyes of the nation and the eyes of the world have turned their gaze toward our city. We are being tested down to the core. Not just to see - can we survive the atrocities that have confronted us last night, but to see if we will rebound and reinvigorate ourselves in such a way that we come up a better city than we were before."
On Thursday, Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old former Army reservist, used a semiautomatic weapon to kill the five officers and wound seven others, as well as two civilians, before the police killed him with a robot-delivered explosive device. According to reports, the sniper was aiming to kill white officers at the demonstration against police violence.
Jakes contended that "what we faced in Dallas did not start in Dallas," but is a "reflection of our country, of our times, of cities around the world and around our country...are in peril."
"I've been asked to pray for the nation, but before I do I just want to tell you that like many of you, I have been up most of the night," the author and filmmaker said, lamenting that "many of us do not recognize pain until it's on our front porch."
"As we come together today we cannot be oblivious to the plight of this nation," he concluded. "We cannot turn our head the other way when tragedy strikes someone who votes differently, or dresses differently, or speaks differently or even believes differently. For the tragedy that we ignore today will be on our doorstep tomorrow. We must pray for our nation."
During a 30-minute Facebook livestream titled, "Tragedy in Our Streets," the Dallas-based pastor said that now more than ever, the church must unite and fight injustice.
"I feel in my heart that we have to stand together as a country and this cannot be a black issue, or LGBT issue, or a Republican or Democratic issue or a Christian issue - this has to be an American issue," he said. "We have to protect our people better than we do right now regardless of the color of their skin because if we allow injustice to raise its head, it's only a matter of time before it comes into other communities and areas. That's why we have to stop it at the gate and we have to stand together and this is the time for the church to stand together."
"It's very important that it not just be the black church and the white church and the brown church, it needs to be the church that Jesus died for and shed His blood for, standing together," he stressed.
While U.S. citizens msut fight injustice, the violence seen on the streets of Dallas is "what happens when angry people lose their head and don't channel that anger appropriately," the pastor said, and pleaded with people not to kill but instead use their voice and speak out against wrong.
"I'm challenging our country to hold our elected officials to their highest offices ... and we have to speak to them and say that we will not allow this kind of injustice to perpetuate itself over and over. Those of us who are rational and those of us who are reasonable must come together and stand," he advised.
"We have a God who sits high but looks low and He has all power in His hands. He said, 'Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, I will repay,'" he added. "Whatever's wrong He will make it right and He will use us to make it right. But He doesn't need our guns to do it and He doesn't need the blood of our sons to do it."