Ben Watson at Boston prayer event in response to racism: Spiritual change is needed

More than a thousand people gathered for Boston Pray, an event to help the community seek racial unity, June 14, 2020.
More than a thousand people gathered for Boston Pray, an event to help the community seek racial unity, June 14, 2020. | Screenshot: Facebook/UniteBoston

Hundreds of people gathered in Boston on Sunday afternoon for a prayer event that former New England Patriot Ben Watson helped organize to encourage the community to seek the biblical values of kindness, justice and righteousness as they deal with the sin of racism.

“What is always needed is a spiritual change,” Watson said at the Boston Pray event held in the Parkman Bandstand of the Boston Common and organized by Unite Boston, the Watson One Foundation and other groups, including local churches.

“That’s at the heart of everything. Racism is sin,” the former NFL star told a cheering crowd as protests entered into their third week in many cities and states since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in Minnesota. Floyd died on May 25 while he was lying on the ground, handcuffed, and restrained by three officers in Minneapolis.

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“The idea is to get believers and nonbelievers to come together and pray and seek God’s face in terms of our next steps,” Watson said. “When it comes to racism or issues of our day, we must enter into it with humility.

“Everybody wants to do something, but it’s always important to understand that our wisdom is nothing compared to God’s. But also humbly come together to show some unity, even though we have to address some real issues in this city and this nation.”

Change, he continued, doesn’t come until we have “honest conversations and do the work that needs to be done.”

Boston Pray was based on Jeremiah 9:24, as he had told Fox News days before the event.

The passage reads: “‘But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

Watson encouraged the community to treat people with the kindness that they want to receive.

“He’s a God of justice,” he told the crowd, explaining that justice simply means giving people their just due, whether it is protection or punishment.

The Christian athlete said righteousness means living by the moral law. We cannot operate as a society without “moral standards,” or if there’s no “common absolute truth.”

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me, ‘I don’t understand, where did all this stuff come from,’” Watson said. “Educate yourself on the history of this country, educate yourself on what’s happening, why are certain people feeling certain ways.

“As a community, we need to seek God’s face, seek His wisdom, seek His power, as we move on in unity” to make the changes we want to see.

The crowd was encouraged to thank God for something they hadn’t thanked Him for. Psalm 126:4-6 was read out to them. “Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

New England Patriot Ja’Whaun Bentley, who was also at the event, said, “Be a voice for the voiceless, speak as loud as we can and make our voices heard. We are with you and understand it.”

A description for the prayer event states, “As Christians in and around Boston, we are grieved by the recent murders of unarmed African Americans … We recognize that the underlying sin of racism is plaguing our city and nation. This is a crucial time for Christians to come together across boundaries to be a catalytic voice for kindness, justice, and righteousness.”

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