'From riots to revival': How the Gospel is moving on the corner where George Floyd died
Written by Mike Thom
Published: 11 June 2020
Christophe Ulysse preaches a message of hope on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, in Minneapolis, Min. (David Parks)
At the "epicentre of pain and darkness," a message of hope through Christ is taking hold and spreading.
Christophe Ulysse is one of several ministers that showed up in Minneapolis, Min. last week and began to preach on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. That's where George Floyd was taken into police custody and died after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
"Really if you look at it, that's the ground-zero for pain and the wounds, and for the anger, and for all of that injustice, it's the epicentre," Ulysse says. He serves with Youth With A Mission in Kona, Hawaii. He and others from other Christian organizations including the Circuit Riders, and JT Thomas, a pastor from Ferguson, Mo., and founder of Civil Righteousness, connected with a local pastor and community leaders and got to work.
"The atmosphere has been completely shifted ... into a place of healing and hope."
"When we got there we didn't know what we were going to do," Ulysse says because several other groups were set up at the intersection with loudspeakers. However, a local community leader, Alfonzo Williams of Worldwide Outreach Ministries in Minneapolis, introduced the preachers to the others gathered at the intersection. "He takes me one by one to each of the other sounds going on, and he says, 'when this man starts to share the Gospel then no sound coming from your side.'
"Sure enough, as soon as we get up to start preaching the Gospel, boom, all the other sound systems turned off."
That was the start of something important, Ulysse says. "This is the whole point, the sound of the Gospel going above the noise. You know, Dr. Martin Luther King said 'Darkness cannot cast out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that.' So right now, all these narratives are hijacking the real issue, which is, that racism at its core is evil. It's evil. We're battling evil... and how do you battle evil? You need the love of God, straight up. There's nothing else."
Several people have been baptized over the last week. (David Parks)
From the first moment the Gospel of Jesus started being preached at the corner, Ulysse says things started to build. People were weeping as they listened to the preachers and responded by giving their lives to the Lord.
"From there, it just started to build every night. People getting healed, wild stories of baptisms," he says.
Since Floyd's death on May 25 large protests have erupted in Minneapolis, as well as every state in the U.S.A., throughout Canada and many other countries. In the United States, many protests have turned into violent clashes between protesters and police.
But now that street corner is shifting into what Ulysse calls an epicentre of "healing and hope."
"After the alter call we did the call for people to get healed. And a guy got healed that was 15 years deaf in one ear from his time serving in the Marines. In front of the crowd, he got up on stage and gave his testimony how the Lord healed his ear."
"This is what Jesus does. He takes our brokenness, he takes our pain, he takes our sin, and he flips it around."
They've also seen people heavily involved in crime come to repentance in dramatic ways.
"People started getting baptized including a guy who was so convicted he just started saying, 'I'm a drug dealer in this neighborhood, I'm involved in prostitution, I need help, I need freedom.' He got baptized!"
Ulysse says when the man came out of the water he fell face down on the ground weeping and shaking. "He finally comes to his feet and he shouts, 'He who is free in Christ is free indeed! He who is free in Christ is free indeed!'"
The crowd listens to preaching and worships at the makeshift memorial to George Floyd. (David Parks)
Ulysse and the other ministry partners spent only a few days in Minneapolis, but it was time well spent, he says. Not only did they preach and lead worship, but they also coached local ministry leaders.
He says that the revival is continuing "because the local church is carrying the torch.
"This is what Jesus does. He takes our brokenness, he takes our pain, he takes our sin, and he flips it around. That's what he did on the cross, and that's what I believe he can do even now in this time in history, if the church is willing to rise up and take her place."