Friday, January 18, 2013

Let Freedom Ring!


In my parents generation, America was a different place. 

My grandpa Ernie tells the story of his first trip to Florida. It was a little family vacation before he decided to move down here from Wisconsin. 

My father and his big brother, David, and sisters, Dorothy and Jane were children at the time. Everyone was hot and tired and wanted a drink after the long drive. They found some water fountains with signs over them.

One said WHITE scrawled on it, the other said, COLORED.

"Can I have some colored water?" asked my young uncle David.

The "Colored" water fountain didn't have rainbow-colored water.  No, it was there, so light-skinned people didn't have to share the same water with their darker-skinned neighbors.

This story breaks my heart; it's hard to believe people in America used to treat each other this way. 

I don't want my children to lose sight of the things that our fairer skinned predecessors had to learn the hard way.

Oppression doesn't pay.

And, one person standing up for what is right really does make a difference.

In the early 1800's in England, William Wilberforce become a Christian and felt compelled to fight to outlaw the slave trade.  He had grown to love Africans as God loves them. The movie, Amazing Grace shares his story.

Despite England leading the way in valuing all people, many Americans didn't seem to want to let go of its hold on free labor and continued holding onto the belief that Africans were a lesser people and were better off enslaved by more civilized societies.  

Although plantations owners lived lives of luxury for a time on the backs of African slaves, their sin eventually caught up with them.

Some of the more realistic movies that depict slavery are

Roots,

Amistad,

Glory, and

Rosewood (which takes place in Florida).


Some children's books I've read to my children to teach them about love and compassion are:

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter,

Unspoken by Henry Cole,

Picture the Past: Life on a Southern Plantation,

and Brown Sugar Babies by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
     
In Luke 16:13, Jesus said,
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Slavery and the money it put in the pockets of the rich plantation owners, ripped our country apart.

It divided our nation, which eventually climaxed into civil war.

The freedom of African slaves cost the blood of our own countrymen who betrayed and turned against one another. Brother against brother, across five Aprils.

Slaves were free but still treated as a lesser people and the term segregation was all too familiar.

Like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Jr., was another faithful man of God, who loved his Savior and experienced the grace of God that gave him spiritual freedom from the wages of sin and the assurance of eternal life. 

He believed that he could not stand by silently and let people, who are made in the image of God be degraded just for the color of their skin.

He stood by these words even to the end.

"Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will."

Segregation had to go. He peacefully fought against it.

No blood was shed except his own.

And, it opened a doorway for our generation to share water fountains, restaurants, buses, and churches with our honey, caramel, and coffee colored neighbors.

Time and time again in history, the light of the gospel has shined brightly and shone us the way, and that way is in Christ. 

He loved the unlovely, the lowly, the oppressed, the sickly, the degraded, the sinners, and those who thought they weren't.

He came to set us all free. Free from our sins which separated us from God and the life in Him that He desired. Free to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.

"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday." 
(Isaiah 58:9, 10)