Moved with Compassion for Rochester

It’s challenging to put into words the conversations I have had in the last week. Rochester is reeling through the implications of the death of Daniel Prude. We find ourselves amid the discussion of racial reckoning.

Many of the conversations end with the impressions of grief and lament. No city desires to have national attention while trying to heal in real-time. The hurt runs deep.

I have tried to consider how Jesus might speak to us. Matthew 9:36–38 in the Message paraphrase says this:

Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

The Message, Matthew 9:36–38

Three words keep coming back to me, “…his heart broke…” Jesus saw the depths of their physical, psychological, and emotional pain. In other passages, the writers of Scripture describe Him as “moved with compassion.”

Through this last week in the discussions about racism, policing, and protest in Rochester, I have prayed to minister like Jesus. The call of followers of Jesus resonates with the prayer, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours?”

Honestly, I don’t know when the process of grief moves towards constructive discussion and then to necessary changes. It seems most critical to take this moment to pray, listen, show up, serve, and support. Prayer must motivate us to action.

Whether you live inside or outside of Rochester, I pray that the church would pursue the compassion and empathy of Jesus. That we would see the image of God in people, even when we disagree or consider enemies. The gospel moves us towards our neighbors.

As I reflect on Jesus in Matthew 9:36–38, I think of the following people and conversations:

The grieving family of Daniel Prude.
Our black brothers and sisters hoping for lasting change in this country.
National and local leaders who have critical decisions to make for reform.
Police officers who want to be part of the solution moving forward.
The families of all directly involved, including the children and spouses, feeling the weight of this season.

The list could go further with other individuals. As a pastor in Rochester walking through this current climate, I ask you to walk with compassion and empathy like Jesus. Behind every person is a varying story of pain and hurt.

As difficult as it seems in Rochester right now, I have hope. We hope the gospel can unify us together under the great shepherd name Jesus. I pray that our churches can look more like heaven with people of all races worshiping together in the future.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to walk with my friend Gavin Brown who offered so much hope for us. He posted this response to our discussion.

To be moved with compassion like Jesus means our prayers turn into His leading to guide us into real action. Yes, Rochester feels the hurt and grief, but we also believe in Jesus, who died on a cross to reconcile us to Himself and each other only to resurrect from the dead to bring us new life.

Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Originally published at



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Peter Englert

Adult Ministries Director @Browncroft . Host on @WGWPodcast. Married to @RobynEnglert | Subscribe to my blog ➡️