At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, four separate Des Moines metro pastor networks gathered together at Zion Lutheran Church in Des Moines. These pastors were from churches of different denominations, theologies, and races. Some were from the suburbs, others from the city. But that morning they gathered together as one to pray for and support leaders of the Des Moines Police Department, the mayor of Des Moines, and the city’s city manager.
It was events of the past week that led to this miraculous meeting …
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Christian community leaders gathered for a Faith At Work luncheon, which opened with a devotion from Des Moines Chief of Police Dana Wingert. They heard a moving account of how the community and the police department were coming together to strengthen the city of Des Moines. Little did the chief and those attending know how much this would be true just a few, short hours later.
Early the next morning, Officer Justin Martin of the Urbandale Police Department and Sgt. Anthony Beminio of the Des Moines Police Department were shot and killed. The City of Des Moines woke up the next day in shock. This was the first time an officer had been killed like this since 1977. This was not supposed to happen in a city like Des Moines.
With two police departments mourning the loss of their own and a city full of grief, anger, and confusion, what an opportunity this was for the church to rise up and bring comfort to the people of Des Moines!
Churches across Des Moines held worship services on Wednesday night, providing a place of comfort and prayer for many in the community, including many police officers. Police chaplains, as well, have put in long hours, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent four chaplains who are experts in disaster response to Des Moines.
Congregation members across the city sent letters of support, delivered flowers, prayed, and one little girl gave all her Halloween candy to the Urbandale Police Department. Christ’s love and comfort were poured on the city of Des Moines.
Christ’s love and comfort were poured on the city of Des Moines.
Which brings us back to Zion Lutheran Church. On Thursday morning, Nov. 3, the church in Des Moines was one. And it was there to be a help and support to God’s ministers of the state. These pastors and ministry leaders shared tears, hugs, prayers, grief, and ideas with the government officials of the city. They were working together to begin the healing process for the City of Des Moines and its police department.
This would not have been possible if it were not for the pastors’ years of hard labor building favor with the city, leading up to this moment. They have served in the police department, in the public schools, and in the city hall. They have poured their hearts and lives into Des Moines’ government officials. They did not know what God was preparing in advance for them, but because of these years of ministry, Des Moines’ leaders knew where to turn in the city’s dark hour.
As we see a nation in desperate spiritual need, not just in Des Moines, but across the country, we must remember that God designed His institutions of the church and state to work together. In Des Moines they need each other. And together in Des Moines, they will bring healing to a city plagued with violence, mourning, anger, grief, and confusion. The same can be true for our whole nation.