For those of you who don't live in the Piedmont Triad area, I'm posting the article here.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This month our country will celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and remember the values that he and others fought for in the Civil Rights movement. Recent events have shown that we need this time of remembrance more than ever.
The bad news is that we continue to be divided along racial lines. Shootings, protests, angry rhetoric, lack of unity—it goes on and on. The good news is that we Christians can do something about it. Just look at what happened last summer in Charleston.
On June 17, Dylan Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a prayer meeting. The people welcomed him with open arms. He sat in the meeting for an hour, and then he took out a gun and started shooting. By the time he left, nine church members were dead.
But what happened next is amazing. On the Friday after the shooting, during the bond hearing for Dylan Roof, the judge asked if any of victims’ family members would like to speak. The first person who spoke was the daughter of a woman who was killed, and the first thing she said was:
“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you…”
And then a man got up and said:
“I forgive him and my family forgives him. But we would like him to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that He can change him and change your ways, so no matter what happens to you, you’ll be okay.”
A victim’s granddaughter said this:
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win.”
These family members who lost their loved ones overcame hatred with forgiveness. They overcame evil with good.
The following Sunday morning Emanuel AME Church was open for business. The bishop appointed an interim pastor named Norvel Goff. And as he stood before a packed house, he said:
"The doors are open at Emanuel this Sunday, sending a message to every demon in Hell and on Earth that no weapon formed against us shall prosper!"
And the people of Emanuel AME went on to have a powerful service of worship in the very place where nine of their members had been gunned down just a few days before.
Instead of giving up, they overcame despair with hope. They overcame evil with good.
And then that night 10,000 people gathered on a bridge in Charleston. Half of them started on one side of the bridge, the other half started on the other side. They marched across the bridge singing “This little light of mine” and when they met in the middle, they joined hands and locked arms and formed a unity chain two and a half miles long.
They observed nine minutes of silence in honor of the nine victims. And then they hugged and they laughed and they sang some more. And they showed the world that they were not going to let a madman divide their city. Dylan Roof wanted to start a race war. What ended up happening was exactly the opposite.
The people of Charleston overcame division with unity. They overcame evil with good.
What happened in Charleston was horrible, but the faithful response of the church led to the unifying of the community. It gives me hope that if we who follow Christ will practice forgiveness, hold out hope, and join hands across racial lines, we can change what’s happening in our country. We can overcome evil with good.
On Sunday, January 17 at 5 pm, Main Street UMC will hold a service in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr., and YOU ARE INVITED. In addition to Scripture and prayers, we’ll have special music from the Winston Salem State University Choir, and a special presentation by “Authoring Action,” a literary and performing arts organization for teens.
Please join us at 306 S Main Street in Kernersville, and let’s show the world that we are united in our commitment to overcome evil with good.