Ericka King is a third-year, full-time law student at Mississippi college. In January of 2015, one of her professors, Dr. John Anderson, told his class of volunteer opportunities with Mission Mississippi. “I had an interest in racial reconciliation, but never seemed to find a niche to get involved.” Ericka was drawn to Mission Mississippi because of their different approach; she was drawn to their philosophy and purpose.
“In July of 2015, I participated in a Day of Dialogue which was planned in response to the Charleston shooting. There was a good racial mixture within the group of thirty to forty people who participated. The dialogue was productive, respectful, and rather informative. I left feeling encouraged that there were many other people who shared her passion for racial reconciliation.
Last December, I visited my friend (my bi-racial friend) in Washington, DC. We went to see the Lincoln Memorial. As we exited, I noticed that we were looking down the mall just as Martin Luther King Jr. would have been the day he made his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. We found the tiles marked where Dr. King stood to deliver this speech. As I stood there on those tiles, I wondered if we would have been able to be friends when this iconic speech was made. It made her very thankful, for the work of Dr. King, people like him, and Mission Mississippi. This was a “Mission Mississippi Moment” for me.
Mission Mississippi has influenced my life beyond helping me to build new relationships. My work with the organization has also taught me to be more patient. I have learned to pause before I speak my reaction and listen to what someone on the other side is saying. I try hard to listen more effectively and not minimize the pain the other person is feeling. This is valuable because I don’t know what it’s like to be an African-American.”
Ericka is a Christian and attends Pinelake church. “I believe there is a solid link between faith and racial reconciliation. Genesis says that people are made in the image of God. Therefore, we should all look at one another through this lens. I believe Christians are in a special position to work for racial reconciliation because of Christ’s teachings. ‘Love God and then love your neighbor as yourself.’ the church needs to put feet to what it preaches.”
Thomas Jenkins is 61, has been a pastor for 35 years and humbly stated, “I need to be reminded to live a reconciled life and Mission Mississippi is that reminder.”
August 1, 2016 Pastor Jenkins somewhat reluctantly arrived at the Jackson Police Department to pray with the Mission Mississippi group. He was reluctant, because he knew someone would be in the room that he had taken issue with the previous week. When he arrived, he was overcome by a feeling of warmth and love for the very person he had been upset with. He was able to pray with and for that person.
Pastor Jenkins recapped one more incident for us to share.
Recently, he and his wife went into a store within their community. His wife, Rose, was speaking with a white lady in the store, who was the store owners wife. As they were leaving, Rose asked if Thomas recognized the woman. To jog his memory, she reminded him of an invitation to a birthday party their daughter had received while in elementary school. A few days after being invited, the girls father revoked the invitation because he thought, “Just because I have to work with them doesn’t mean I have to let them in my home.” Rose said that the woman she had been speaking with in the store was this man’s wife. They’d hadn’t seen them in years, but they still remembered that birthday party. Thomas immediately became indignant, stating they would never shop at the store again. Ironically, God put them back in that same store sooner than they expected. He eventually met the owner, the man who many years before had hurt his daughter and insulted his family. But the man was different now. Thomas realized that in the years since he had last seen him, the man had changed, and that he himself needed to change. God was calling Pastor Jenkins to accept this man for who he had become and not for who he was twenty years ago.
Pastor Jenkins said that he is thankful to Neddie Winters and the leaders of Mission Mississippi because his involvement keeps reminding him to live out GRACISM in his day-to-day life, and not to hold on to bitterness or anger, but to forgive and love. We know that Mission Mississippi did not give him that love, but we are excited to be a part of God working in the lives of His people. It is humble to hear that our work is acting as that little reminder that we can be reconciled to one another as we have been reconciled through Christ.