There are SO many reasons to love Jesus. One that always brings a smile is how He enjoyed parties. We know from Scripture that the first recorded miracle took place at a wedding reception. He was there as a guest, but as an obedient son, the Son handled a rather unusual request from his mother. And because of that, the celebration continued without any interruptions.
In October of 1993, I began my journey with Mission Mississippi (MM). This year we celebrate our 30th year of ministry. My first introduction was at a 3-day rally held at Memorial Stadium in Jackson. I watched in awe as over 100 preachers and priests carried a cross over 100 yards down the field. The voices of an interdenominational, multi-ethnic choir were heard throughout the stadium. Then, I listened as Pat Morley and Tom Skinner spoke of their friendship and deep love for one another – all because Christ had led them to cross barriers of color and recognize the Holy Spirit living within each of them. Would anything result from this rally – which asked us to look within and consider how we, too, might begin to cross some of our very own barriers – of denominational and racial differences?
My next chapter began in April of 1997. A staff member from my home church asked my Sunday School class to choose a Thursday to attend a Prayer Breakfast which was to be hosted by a local church, but led by the MM ministry. Three of us from the class attended a breakfast at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. The night before, a dear friend’s son had committed suicide and I was going to see her later that morning. I SO felt the need for prayer. When we broke into small groups to pray, a Black brother prayed the most comforting and encouraging prayer for me. Two months later, I attended a MM Prayer Breakfast my church hosted. And, after that, I was “all in.” So, what difference have these 26+ years made in my life?
Well, there was Willie Bell, whom I met at Christ the King Catholic Church, while we were attending a Prayer Breakfast there. When I first heard her pray, I was moved by her words and how well she and God seemed to know one another. Early on, MM organized events called “Two and Two Together.” Area restaurants gave a 22% discount for all patrons who visited with someone different from themselves. Since Willie Bell and I were “different colors,” we decided we would participate together. We shared meals and prayers for many years after that. We became friends. Later, larger groups shared meals together. We participated in ministry projects, like wrapping presents at Christmastime at the mall. Just like Jesus, we enjoyed our times of fellowship. They were sweet. When you have prayed together, that lays a wonderful foundation for growing a beautiful friendship.
There have been numerous friends I’ve made throughout this journey. There was Joel, who often began his prayers by saying, “Thank you, God, for waking me up this morning and touching me with your fingers of love.” I learned valuable lessons from Joel’s sweet and humble spirit, his dependability, his love for all things “MM.” He kept “at it,” until he was 91 and moved to Heaven! Some people I would see yearly when their church hosted a breakfast. Mary, from St. Richard’s Catholic Church, wasn’t used to praying aloud with others, but the second time we visited her church, she decided to “give it a try.” From then on, she was eager to pray with those in her small group during our prayer time. Had there not been a MM organization, I would never have met Willie Bell, Joel and Mary. Oh, I will see them again in Heaven (because these three have already “relocated” there), but I would have missed the pleasure of knowing them on “this side.” I was privileged to know the three previous directors/presidents of MM – first, Jarvis Ward, then Dr. Dolphus Weary and most recently Bro. Neddie Winters. I celebrate these three leaders and thank the Father for each of them. Now, we celebrate our newest leader, President Brian Crawford, who officially joined us in April.
What has all this meant to me? It has helped me recognize how big my God is and how all-encompassing His love is for everyone. I’ve realized the importance of living reconciled NOW, not just waiting for Heaven where everything is perfect and all problems have been resolved. No, God had it in mind for us to work on relationships on “this side.” I still have miles to go, but my life has been so much richer and so very blessed by journeying with all these precious brothers and sisters in Christ whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. MM made this all possible. This was not man’s idea, this was God’s idea. I am beyond grateful that it was HIS idea for me to participate.
To “live reconciled,” we must first be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, then we can work on our relationships with one another. And, it’s not a cake walk. It takes intentionality and commitment. It takes the Holy Spirit working in us to help us see people the way God sees people. My journey with MM has enlarged my understanding of God in ways I would have never imagined. And my life has been blessed in ways I would have never dreamed. I am so thankful to HIM and to MM.
What now? Come and join us on this journey. Come celebrate with us! “Living Reconciled” truly is the ONLY way to really live!