On any given Wednesday night, I go to church, unlock the doors and welcome folks in to pray for our Church Family and needs in our community, then to read God’s Word and study it for a few moments seeking to find what it means for our world today. Not every week or every month, but often enough, guests that I do not know walk in off the streets of downtown Newport and sit with us during prayer and Bible Study. They are welcomed in. They are greeted afterwards warmly by all in attendance. On any given Wednesday night.
While it seems many have chosen to use the Charleston tragedy to fit a personal agenda, I have just been moved deeply by a church acting like well, a “church.”
Romans 12:21 – “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I Corinthians 13:13 – “All the gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on.”
John 1:5 – “The lights shines on in the darkness, but the darkness can not understand it.”
2 Corinthians 4:8, 16 – “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed – therefore, do not lose heart!”
So, this week, I have heard, church family members say, “I forgive you!” I see church members cleaning their building and again inviting people in to worship, prayer and to read God’s Word. I don’t see riots in the streets.
In the midst of this horrible tragedy, the light of Jesus Christ has shone very brightly in one church – in Charleston, SC. We, too, must overcome evil with good daily and let God’s love shine through in our daily lives. The church’s testimony of faith to our loving, comforting and forgiving God is inspiration and challenge to me.
As they prepare to bury their loved ones over the next few days, may I, and we, join with the saints, and offer these words:
Isaiah 40:1 – “Comfort, comfort, my people!
Isaiah 40:28 – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will NOT grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom:
Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 11:25 – “I am the Resurrection and the Life!”
Lord, watch over and comfort the Emmanuel AME Church, and us, today!
Dr. Rich Lloyd
A follower of Jesus Christ. Husband to Debbie since 1980. Father to Logan, Kelsey and Jordan. Since 2000 the Pastor of the First Baptist Church Newport, Newport, Tennessee nestled in the great Smoky Mountains. A graduate of Samford University (BA '79) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv '83, ThM '85 and PhD '91). A third generation Southern Baptist minister. A serious Peyton Manning and Atlanta Braves fan!