'Ground Zero' wedding at Ferguson unites community after burnout

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Memorials set up around Ferguson, Mo. are a reminder of the need to pray for unity. | BGEA

FERGUSON, Mo. (Christian Examiner) -- A Ferguson couple homeless after a house fire burned them out got married this morning with help from crisis-trained chaplains who are a part of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.

Chaplain Terri Naber said a family of seven had been visited by three chaplains who prayed with them and helped them find food, clothing and other necessities, according to a story produced by the BGEA Rapid Response Team.

The couple, who had been together for nine years, told Naber they wanted to get married.

"They truly do love one another," chaplain Terri Naber said, according to a story at the BillyGraham.org site. "They want to do it God's way. They want God's blessing since they rededicated their lives."

One of the chaplains, José Aguayo, is also a pastor, and so after accelerated pre-marital counseling, the marriage ceremony was set for today – at Ferguson's Ground Zero, where the Rapid Response mobile command unit has been uniting members of the community.

It is the site of an old Ponderosa Steak House, and now the site of the Center for Hope and Peace, where gang members, pastors, police officers, fire fighters, community leaders, family members of Michael Brown, and others pass through to have a cup of coffee, get out of the rain, and share their stories, according to the article.

Graffiti at a hardware store in Ferguson, Mo.: "Hate Cannot Drive Out Darkness, Only Love Can." | BGEA

Naber said the chaplains had ordered a cake and food for a reception, and bows and ribbons for celebrate the festive occasion.

"They feel hopeless and they need to be reminded that all hope isn't lost," Vivian Dudley said of Ferguson residents, in another story on the BGEA site. She is the founder and an evangelist for One Church Outreach Ministry.

Chaplains cry out to God with members of the Ferguson community. | BGEA

Sitting with chaplains in the shadow of a dumpster spray-painted with the words, "If we burn, you burn with us!" -- Dudley said: "What the enemy meant to do was to box each of us in to feel like hope is lost. I think that right now the spiritual climate is they need a revival."

Southern Baptist leader Harold Hendrick, host of a Bott Radio Network show and longtime member of First Baptist Church in Ferguson, said the community is planning a Dec. 21 event, "We are One," that will focus on repentance, love, and unity in seeking God's mercy and blessing.

Hendrick told the Christian Examiner that Ferguson clergymen will support a document called "The Ferguson Declaration," and anticipated guest speakers include Dr. Tony Evans, head of the "Urban Alternative;" Aeneas Williams, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and pastor of The Spirit Church in St. Louis; and Lynne Jackson, great-great-granddaughter of Dred and Harriet Scott and founder of the Dred Scott Foundation. 

Ferguson couple ties the knot after home burns