It’s no secret that Charlotte, North Carolina, is getting more and more liberal. Just flip on the news, and you’ll see Charlotte wrestling with issues such as riots, arguments over transgender bathrooms and hatred toward law enforcement.
But one pastor is making a difference in Charlotte with a biblical weapon—love. Bonnie Chavda pastors All Nations Church Healing and Revival Center with her husband, Mahesh, in Charlotte and Atlanta, Georgia.
Several years ago, she and other pastors in Charlotte saw the liberal agenda push against biblical and pro-family ideals. Charlotte’s HB2 in 2016 allowed transgender people to use the public restroom opposite of their biological sex. (Although that law was later repealed in 2017, it was replaced with a compromise law that still granted various rights to the gay and transgender community.)
Around that time, Chavda also says they began to see pro-LGBT curriculum in public schools. The city’s pastors knew they had to do something.
“We started getting more engaged, first of all by listening,” she tells me. “We started going to our city council meetings. We started going to our Board of Education meetings. It just so happened that God’s timing is always perfect because as we were doing that, these national special-interest things began to assault our city.”
You may remember that 2016 was also the year that Keith Lamont Scott, an African American civilian, was shot and killed by an African American police officer in Charlotte. Riots soon broke out, causing chaos and increasing hatred toward law enforcement.
“When the riots happened, a small group of pastors, primarily African American, and myself—we looked at that and said, ‘We cannot allow this anarchy to take over our city,'” Chavda says. “We made a decision that, at possible risk of our own lives, we were going into the midst of that chaos to engage people, to talk them down off the ledge, if you will, in spite of the radical activists who had come here to stir up the at-risk community.”
As these pastors began reaching out, even in dangerous riots, doors began to supernaturally open for relationship-building. One woman went out into a riot wearing a T-shirt that said, “Free Hugs.”
Other opportunities included praying outside police stations as a way of showing law enforcement they loved and supported them. In some of those instances, Christian police officers even came outside to join in prayer.
“So we’re watching the Lord literally begin to turn the dynamics [in Charlotte],” Chavda says. “We had no idea three to five years ago that Charlotte was also ordained for a particular time in global history. We’re coming upon an event now that is said to be the largest media event in human history. And we find that these little steps we’ve taken have positioned us to be a part of a major demonstration of light and righteousness in our city when the whole world will be watching.”
Chavda is referring to the Republican National Convention that will happen in Charlotte in 2020. Thankfully, Chavda and other pastors in the city have been training believers to engage in peace-making conversations, even when the other person is hostile. They’ve also been training them in how to engage the media. It’s as though God was preparing the Christians in Charlotte for such a time as this.
None of this could have happened, though, without faith to put prayers into action, Chavda says. She offers a warning to believers across the U.S.:
“Rather than staying in our prayer closets or staying in our churches and praying about the problem, we said, ‘We’ve got to put feet on our prayers.’ And it was those crisis opportunities. We realized that there are vacuums that unrighteousness has taken over because simple, righteous people with the very gifts you have [aren’t stepping in]. You don’t need anything more than what you have already, which is a person named Jesus Christ, who is ready to engage every person at the level of where they’re at. And He has what they need. You carry all of that.”
I hope each of my readers takes Chavda’s words to heart. We can’t simply pray about something without the faith to take the next step. We have to get involved. If we want to see our nation repent and turn back to God, we have to vote, we have to step out and we have to take concrete steps to make a difference.
I encourage you to listen to Chavda’s full story on my podcast interview today. And make sure you share this article to spread the word about what God is doing in Charlotte!