Love…the AME Church Way!

ameIt’s hot Friday night in Lilburn, Georgia and the cool breeze is a welcome relief as it touches my face with a gentle caress…I hear the firecrackers in the far distance popping at Stone Mountain Park.
Anderson Cooper is interviewing a family member of one of the victims of the Charleston Nine in Charleston, South Carolina. My windows are open and I hear the firecrackers like muted gun shots, and the emotional verbiage from my television in the Cable twenty-four news cycle on CNN and MSNBC. I dare not touch the remote button that would bring up the conservative spin on Fox News…my blood pressure is high enough.
As I have listened, the last two days about the horrific killing of nine innocent people at a Wednesday evening Bible Study at an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the commentators, the experts and the reactions have ignited my emotions faster than any speeding six-flag rollercoaster.
I admired the family member’s classy forgiveness message to the “Racist Terrorist” and the humble response from the killer’s family. I’m still baffled about the response, from the Charleston Judge, and I am working on how I am going to emotionally respond to his remarks at the opening of the hearing of the alleged killer.
I hear words.
` I hear responses.
I hear all this talk, but unless you grew up in the AME Zion Church, you don’t have a clue about the response the faith community is exhibiting in Charleston. Why they are forgiving a heinous killer with love as their love ones lying in an undertaker’s establishment.
I can hear people asking… they forgive in less than 48hours?
I grew up in Winder, Georgia at Bush Chapel AME Zion Church that sits on a hill and still dominates the community. My great grandparents helped build that 100-year-old stone brick church.
It was a place of forgiveness.
It was a place of LOVE!
Love dominates the church as exhibited by the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what is coming through in Charleston, South Carolina and in every small AME Church across America!
You see small crowds, at services, but you see people dedicated people who love Jesus Christ. I learned early, if you don’t let love penetrate deep, then hate will surface and now you have anger then a reaction that will lead to further violence.
Bush Chapel AME Zion Church was a place of worship on Sunday mornings and Bible Study on Wednesday Evenings.
Many a Wednesday evenings, in the late 50s and early 60s, I held my Grandmother Katie’s hand and we walked through the cemetery to the church at the top of the hill for Bible Study. As I looked at the 87-year old Victims face, I could see my grandmother…I cried.
Back then, I felt so safe.
I felt love.
I also held that same strong hand as we walked through segregated Winder, Georgia to Peskin’s’ department store or stood in line at the back or Hardegre’s Restaurant at the Colored Window waiting for my favorite hamburger.
The last two days have brought back memories…I see the love in the people.
Bush Chapel AME Zion Church was a place of safety and love that carried us through “Segregated” times in Georgia.
In the summer, the windows were opened for the cool air to come in. We knew that “racist” could do anything, but we knew that GOD was bigger…nobody was every afraid.
I know the “Charleston Nine” knew in their last minutes, the GOD of love was with them and carry them home.
From my Bible Studies, I learned many things, but one of the most important was something from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 31-8: “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.”
The last few evenings have been full of anguish, but I know that God lives.
When I heard those responses from the Charleston AME Zion Church family, I could feel what I learned at an earlier age…Love.
It was deep!
It was in the soul!
It was true!
It was Christian!!!
You can’t love or hate at the same time.
If you hate, you will take up the banner of the Charleston Killer
If you love, you will take up the banner of the Charleston Christians.
It’s your choice?
May God richly bless the “Charleston Nine” in heaven and their families still on earth?
The “Killer” must be in our prayers. I was re-taught this principal of “Christian Love:” from the Charleston Christians who spoke today at the court hearing,
God Bless the person who killed nine innocent people at the Bible Study and his family.
For a Christian, this is what we must do.
This is our calling.
May God Richly Bless You!


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