Pentecostal pastor optimistic about ‘future of faith’


In a recent conversation with Princeton philosophy of law professor Dr. Robert George, Pastor Eugene Rivers affirmed that the only hope today’s young people have is in God. Rivers, who works with some of the most dangerous gangs in the country, also emphasized his optimism for a future of faith.

Dr. George began by asking Pastor Rivers, if he was optimistic or pessimistic about the Christian faith when he spoke with young people. Rivers, who is the pastor of the Church of God in Christ, the nation’s largest historically African-American Pentecostal church, replied that he is hopeful. “I’m entirely optimistic for obvious reasons, to me,” said Rivers. “The only hope that young people have today is in God.”

“I believe, and all of the observable empirical evidence suggests to me, that there is a crisis of cultural and moral authority which required the gospel message to properly intervene in a way that reintroduces hope and faith for a generation of young people for whom hope and faith has died,” Rivers told George.

Pastor Rivers, who has traveled across the country, speaking and working particularly with young people, noted that, “As I walk the streets, all across this country and see a generation of young people drowning in their own blood, it will only be the power of God that resurrects faith and hope in the lives of so many of these children who are desperately looking for a credible witness of the Christian faith.”

Rivers, who works with at-risk youth in violent neighborhoods and prisons, replied to George’s question about the effectiveness of secular efforts in helping these youth by saying, “I’ll tell you this: there are no atheists in the foxholes.”

“In the last 30 years of working with the most violent gangs, from Los Angeles to Boston, the one that has been consistent and actually sort of ironically amusing is the fact that I do not run into atheists in the foxholes. It is the people of faith, whose courage is a function of their faith in God, who are the people that I work shoulder to shoulder with: those nuns and those priests in those barrios and those prison ministries in these ghettos.”

“The future is the future of faith. And I’m entirely optimistic,” Rivers declared.

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