Mark Whitlock, executive director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, has committed to a 73-day fast to end gun violence. The Orange County Register and the L.A. Sentinel detailed his motive for fasting through the holiday season. The mass shootings in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks, as well as the recent murder of the son of Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager at Murray Center, spurred Whitlock to action. Whitlock, who will survive for more than nine weeks on juice and protein powder, invited others to join him for any length of time.
In a Q&A with the O.C. Register, he spoke of his motivation:
In Charleston, S.C., I sat at the very same table where Dylann Roof opened his bag, pulled out a gun and shot nine African American congregants at Mother Emmanuel AME Church who welcomed him in. I’ll never forget meeting the families of those who lost loved ones in that shooting. That’s what drives me to this place.
In my office, I have three pictures on the wall — Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Jesus Christ is always my inspiration. Martin Luther King, Jr. is my motivator.
Whitlock described the power of fasting to the L.A. Sentinel:
Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life, transform family problems, and gain new power. According to scripture, personal experience and observation, fasting and prayer can also effect change on a much grander scale.
I am convinced that when God’s people fast with a proper biblical motive – seeking God’s face – with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven. God will heal our lives, our land, our churches, our communities, our nation and world. Fasting and prayer can bring about a change in the direction of our nation, the nations of earth and the fulfillment of the Great Commission – this is powerful motivation in today’s unsettled world.