As the shop keeper went on, I began to realize the impact of the British riots. I have lived in England but never went as far north as Manchester. Hearing this man, I felt an urge to research the city history. First, however, I started with the news headlines.
The riots had spread to Manchester after starting in London.
A man had pulled a gun on the police and had been shot dead. The circumstances stayed obscure so his family and community felt powerless as they struggled to understand his death; a protest was organized. The protest did not stay peaceful for long.
All hell broke loose in the suburbs of London and then across the major cities of Britain. Uploaded on YouTube are shocking videos of the extreme violence, looting and vandalism.
Carnage in a city like Manchester?
It's a town used to devastation. It has an old and respected history. A weaving town, it was influenced by the Flemish. Its magnificent cathedral was completed in 1510 and became Protestant under John Dee, well known as Queen Elizabeth's "Merlin" a man as much a magician as a scientist.
This is the city where the English Civil War is said to have started in the 17th century. That led the execution of Charles I and the rise of Cromwell. Manchester was on the cutting edge of urban excellence during the Industrial Revolution, until in the twentieth century, the products it manufactured were no longer in such great demand. The heartbeat of the city slowly faded.
In the 1990s, Manchester became an Irish Republican Army target, suffering several major explosions, including firebombs. Parts of the city centre were levelled in the blasts, many hundreds were injured and tens of thousands affected.
Today, Greater Manchester includes over 2.6 million people. Many of them are unemployed, victims of industrial work being taken overseas where wages are much less. Frustration and anger have spilled over as a result and Manchester has also become known for a history of rivalry between football hooligans as well as other romper stompers.
As for this time in history, it is now one of many "war zones" in England. As I watched the buildings in Tottenham in flames, I felt the screaming was just surreal.
In turning so far from God, a mob has destroyed the work of hundreds of years. Manchester's latest nick name is "war zone".
Every time violence arises in the world, God's eternal love is forgotten. His hope is forgotten. His plans for His people - "know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11) - are forgotten.
I pray this message will reach the people of every city in the UK who are in need of being inspired by the Love of God. You are not forgotten.
Julia Baber is French who has migrated to Australia with her English husband. They have one little son. Julia serves 'Aliiance Francaise', a non-profit body that promotes all things French around the world.