George Floyd’s overlooked ministry
The discourse about George Floyd’s death is overlooking his contributions to a local Christian ministry.
The 25 May death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer served as a catalyst in the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and elsewhere. As a symbol of police brutality against black Americans, the image, captured on camera, of Mr Floyd face down with the officer’s knee on his back has proven to be dynamite. Mr Floyd was accused of trying to pay for goods with counterfeit money at the time of arrest.
Since then, memes have circulated through social media portraying Floyd as a dangerous menace. Pointing to his past criminal record, these memes attempt to argue that Floyd was no martyr for any cause, or to contextualise the violence used in his arrest. Word quickly spread about the time he served in prison for drug possession, theft, tresspass, and aggravated robbery.
Something that is missing in much of the online discourse regarding George Floyd is the role that he played in his local community as part of a Christian ministry taking place there.
As Christianity Today recently reported, Mr Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward. According to that report, people in the Third Ward, especially in the Cuney Homes housing project, viewed Mr Floyd as a trusted local figure who had been there for decades. It appears that he used this influence to help outside ministries enter a tight knit and often dangerous area.
Patrick PT Ngwolo is the pastor of Resurrection Houston, which held services at Cuney Homes. He told Christianity Today that, from 2010, Mr Floyd helped him establish services in the area, helping with basketball tournaments, barbecues, and community baptisms.
Nijalon Dunn is a friend of Mr Floyd, who knew him through his connections to the neighbourhood.
“His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth,” Mr Dunn said.
“There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity. There were times where we’d have Church at the Bricks until 3 p.m., and by 4:30, they’re firing shots right at the basketball courts.”
When Mr Floyd moved to Minnesota circa 2018, it was so he could join a discipleship program.