TEACHING: The protests in Brazil began with a few thousand demonstrators complaining of a 10-cent bus fare increase in Sao Paulo. They did not have to escalate into nationwide uprisings of hundreds of thousands against a a wide range of social ills and the corruption that worsened them. If the city of Sao Paulo had quickly sought a solution to the initial complaints, it might have been able to handle the other issues one at a time. Instead, the protesters got more violent, burning a bus, breaking bank windows, spraying graffiti on walls and throwing rocks. And the police retaliated without warning them, shooting tear spray and rubber bullets—even at journalists—which wounded 120 people.
One problem exposed another problem. The protests in Brazil over bus fares exposed the poor police training . The poor police training exposed widespread resentment of police brutality, and the government corruption which allowed it. Once the protests in Brazil accelerated, every major grievance was brought into the streets. Shouts and slogans from crowds gain media attention and show strength. But they do not solve problems. The government acted too late to initiate dialogue. It is hastening reforms which may not work for long because they are not long-considered.
Conflict resolution is a process. It is much the same on a national scale as it is on a personal scale. (See Conflict Resolution.) It should start with impartial prayer for God to bring better understanding. (That is one role the church can play.) Each party should have equal time for speaking. Each should aim at one issue at a time, speaking the truth in love. Each should be willing both to admit any wrongdoing and forgive the other’s wrongdoing. Relationships cannot continue without forgiveness. However, there must be consequences for crimes. The discussion may not reach a full conclusion. But should end with an agreement on the next thing the parties will do together. Hopefully it will end with an action plan. At the least it should end with an agreement for future talks, aimed at constructive action. (See below video for more)
The church should provide a great example of this biblical process. When Brazilians—of whom 87% profess to be Christians—turned to the church in this crisis, what did they see? More than 800,000 participating in the annual March For Jesus, which is focused entirely on glorifying Jesus Christ. Rightly the March does not allow any political agenda, or even prayer about issues. But Brazilians saw that the March was organized by a pastor who was convicted of bringing $50,000 into the US without declaring it. He was also under investigation on charges of tax evasion, misuse of donations, and negligence when a church roof collapsed. He may be innocent of these charges, for Christians must expect persecution. The nation is watching how he answers these charges. If he does so in a Christlike way, he will commend the cause of Christ and the March for Jesus which he leads.
Another participant in the March is Pastor Marcos Feliciano. He is also a congressman and the chairman of Committee for Human Rights and Minorities. Christians who serve in government can expect extra scrutiny. In the course of our lives we may let slip a few ill-considered statements that may sound anti-black, or anti-gay, or anti-people of any particular kind. For Christian politicians, the media spotlight on these is unforgiving. It often turns real people into caricatures. This cautions us to watch our words everywhere, for we must bear the burden if we don’t.
Christians must care about the social issues around us, but care first for what God says about them. We must be passionate about God’s truth on these issues, but speak the truth with God’s love. We must support the candidates with the best research and records on these issues, but differ with them when they depart from the truth. We must be honest about their—and our—obvious shortcomings, but forgiving of them and others too. When protests swell into crowds, we must model and advocate peaceful discussion and solutions.
The public response of church leaders in Belize to the gay agenda has overall been exhibiting these principles well. Christians are being tested by the latest government move, to break its own laws and approve a pro-LGBT gender policy without public discussion. The government did not follow the above process at all—until after the fact. The church in Belize can stay on its track as the nation’s conscience. The church can keep calling the government to get back on its own track as the nation’s law-upholder and not law-breaker. Pray that God will make the conscience of the church clear so that it may guide public policy toward righteous solutions to public problems. Pray that His will be done in these issues—in Belize, in Brazil, and in every nation on earth—according to His kingdom in heaven. (See Prayer Alert: Brazil protests compete with soccer, politicians & church.)
Related sources for protests in Brazil:
2013 Protests in Brazil
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Ways to respond to protests in Brazil and other nations