01/23/2013 05:52 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Fasting From Violence -- Lent 2013

506 murders in Chicago 2012. That's a Bloody Feast. Our city must fast from this violence.

Members of our Chicago faith community and beyond are coming together using the global platform of Lent:

Traditionally, Lent has served as a time for Christians throughout the ages to abstain from that which we do not need or that which harms us. So, we give up eating crappy food not because we want to look more like Jesus but because we're looking for the fountain of youth! But this year...(we're) launch(ing) a 7 week fast from violent thought, word, and deed , as a gesture of our gratitude for the price paid at Calvary and a move to be more like our Lord and Savior. - Pastor Jeff Winkowski

Fasting from violence; tell the poets, tell the press, tell the youth, tell it, tell it, tell it, until the message is spread far and wide; we fast from self harm, we fast from destruction; we fast from blood lust, we fast from the violent history of our home town, we fast from taking life. we fast until there is peace. - Meta Commerse

Fasting creates space for new knowledge and practices. Therefore, it is irresponsible to leave the faster empty. Here's what Jesus says,

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. Luke 11.24-26

Fasting from Citywide Acts of Violence to Performing Citywide Acts of Love
For the Lent season we must intentionally walk and talk with the purveyors and victims of violence. With strategic purpose we must SHOW ACTS OF LOVE. What will such actions look like?

Faith Gangs (Churches, Synagogues, Mosques etc.) and Street Gangs (GD's, Vice Lords, Race Haters etc.) visiting the wounded and broken together. Feeding the hungry together. Clothing the cold and needy together. Praying, sharing and brainstorming together on how we can make every community in the city better. Gangs and faith communities are both responsible for the bad so we must shoulder the even greater responsibility for the good. One day, one week at a time.

Turning Jail Cells into Prayer Cells
For the seven weeks of Lent, let us turn our jail cells into prayer cells. Impossible? Not at all. A unified effort of love, teaching and prayer for those seven weeks will change lives. If we say it's impossible before we even try, then of course we have failed without even starting. Again my friend Jeff Winkowski has written:

We as a society need to purge our minds and hearts. We need to repent. We need to reflect. This requires discipline. That means paying attention to what we take in from the media, how we respond to verbal assaults, how we are affected by music and movies that we normally "think nothing" of. Violence IS a big deal. And we have people to testify to this end who have been on both sides of the bars, and behind both ends of the barrel.

I'm the Senior Pastor of the Mission of Faith Baptist Church and on the First Friday of Lent 2013, February 15th at 6 p.m. we're launching this initiative. We plan to march and pray through the troubled and challenged Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. We'll end up at my church to be inspired, fellowship, connect, strategize and act. We will fast from violence and teach and show love/action across the city. This is nothing new. As a Christian this is what I'm supposed to be doing anyway:

"When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me."

Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?" The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." Matthew 25.35-40

Your actions are more important than your label. Right actions can produce right people. We will come together with those who can and pray for those who cannot. So join us -- we can't live without you...