Amid the shooting deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and five police officers who were gunned down in Dallas, Texas, Thursday night, megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes offers his advice on what people should do moving forward.
"For a long time I've been crying out about the criminal justice system," Jakes said during a 30-minute Facebook livestream titled, "Tragedy in Our Streets."
The Dallas-based minster explained that the tragedy is not only happening in the streets but emphasized that injustice also exists in the courtrooms, prisons, and in big businesses. He also spoke about the prejudices toward poor people, underserved people, and people who sometimes have no voice.
"Hear me when I tell you I am very, very frustrated and I stand in solidarity, but I think that the way this is being approached is wrong," Jakes said, as news of the killing of five police officers developed Thursday night.
"I feel in my heart that we have to stand together as a country and this cannot be a black issue, or LGBT issue, or a Republican or Democratic issue or a Christian issue — this has to be an American issue," he continued. "We have to protect our people better than we do right now regardless of the color of their skin because if we allow injustice to raise its head, it's only a matter of time before it comes into other communities and areas. That's why we have to stop it at the gate and we have to stand together and this is the time for the church to stand together."
The author and filmmaker said he strives to reconcile churches — black, white and brown — to come together and stand together.
"It's very important that it not just be the black church and the white church and the brown church, it needs to be the church that Jesus died for and shed His blood for, standing together," he stressed.
Jakes recalled that during the Civil Rights movement people from all races, religions, and backgrounds came together for one common purpose. He said it's not the problem of one particular race, and people should not reduce it to a war against whites or police, because it's a war against injustice.
"What we are seeing in the streets of Dallas tonight is not the kind of action that we want and it's not the kind of action that the protesters were marching for. It is what happens when angry people lose their head and don't channel that anger appropriately," he explained.
The Potter's House minister said he pastors many of the Dallas police officers and has likewise attended many funerals of some of the young black men who have been killed in officer-involved shootings.
"I'm challenging our country to hold our elected officials to their highest offices ... and we have to speak to them and say that we will not allow this kind of injustice to perpetuate itself over and over. Those of us who are rational and those of us who are reasonable must come together and stand," he advised.
Jakes also said he feared for his children's lives following the Dallas shootings and called them to make sure they were safe. He pleaded with people not to kill but instead use their voice and speak out against wrong.
As Jakes geared up to pray he declared: "We have a God who sits high but looks low and He has all power in His hands. He said, 'Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, I will repay.' Whatever's wrong He will make it right and He will use us to make it right. But He doesn't need our guns to do it and He doesn't need the blood of our sons to do it."
With thousands of Facebook users watching in to hear his advice and commentary, Jakes then proceeded to pray about the failure of the nation and lifted up the families of all the victims. He prayed for covering of children and righteous police officers, and pleaded for the blood of Jesus to cover everything in this country.
During his petition to God, he quoted the scripture 2 Chronicle 7:14, which states: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
At one point during the emotional prayer, the connection was interrupted and some of what Jakes said was cut off but when he came back he began to viciously bind the powers of darkness and the enemy and went into a time of spiritual warfare.
"Let righteousness prevail" was his heart's cry, and many people thanked him for speaking out and providing a source of comfort.