Residents looking to ‘higher’ power to combat Muskegon Hts. violence

Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-06 22:57:24-04

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. – There seems to be no end in sight for a recent string of violence in the Muskegon Heights answer – and no obvious solution to the problem.

Concerned residents and law enforcement have tried everything, to no avail. But now, help is coming from a few folks on the fringe of the Heights, and it’s a method that hasn’t been tried yet. Not like this.

Mother-daughter combo Judy and Kelly McMahon live just outside of Muskegon Heights, but were just as concerned as anyone with this recent outburst of violence.

“There’s always negative stuff about the heights and it really bothers me,” said Judy. “And then I started thinking, ‘what would it look like if there were prayers around the city?’ and then I thought – how are you going to do that?”

The answer – a community prayer session. And a Facebook event that so far has seen nearly 370 users click ‘attend.’ The event is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 12th at the Mission for Area People just across the street from Muskegon Heights High School. Judy and Kelly are encouraging any other church or worship center interested in hosting their own prayer session that day to reach out to them via their Facebook page.

“Prayer is very powerful,” said Judy, “and the more people that we can get together around the city and pray in the city, I think big, huge change can come.”

To make the connection even deeper, Judy enlisted the help of Nate Johnson, associate pastor at Kingdom Life Church. Nate knows more than anyone the pressure that exists for many on the city streets, having served 12-and-a-half years behind bars himself.

“I was one of the guys running around on these streets,” said Johnson. “I went in on delivery of cocaine and armed robbery – in the 90’s I was the only white guy selling crack here in Muskegon.”

But during his time in prison, Nate found religion. It’s a discovery he’s hoping many who are the root of the problem in Muskegon Heights will make themselves on Saturday.

“I can only speak from experience. What would I say to someone? Jesus really is the only answer,” said Johnson.

“My heart’s desire is I want to see these guys, even the guys I used to run with – used to jam with - I want to see these guys encounter Jesus Christ and really have a real genuine change of heart that flips their world upside down and really calls them into their purpose of being history makers and world changers and not settling for what the streets has to offer.”