Matters of Faith: I Am!

‭‭James‬ ‭1:1-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

This being Black History month, I thought about the centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, systemic racism and collective humiliation that African Americans have endured in (but not limited to) the United States. Their collective faith and belief enabled them to know that it was all a test. They fought for their right to be treated first as human beings then as equals; they built the nations without remuneration or recognition; they gave their blood, sweat and tears that ”watered the path of the slaughtered.”

In the scriptural reference above James says that we should be joyful when we find ourselves in the midst of trials and testing because patience is born there, which then produces work which will make us perfect and complete — having everything we need.

I recently attended a meeting of District Council 37, a municipal union representing over 125,000 workers. It was a meeting with clergy and other community leaders to introduce DC 37’s “I Am 2018” campaign that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the striking sanitation workers of Memphis, Tennessee. Tragically, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had gone to Memphis in April 1968 in support of their effort to achieve seeking racial and economic justice.

Because the striking Memphis sanitation workers maintained their patience in the face of opposition, difficulty and adversity; and also because they and their supporters stood steadfast, worked, fought and even died for their beliefs, race relations have progressed — and unions are now able to routinely negotiate collectively for their membership.

Likewise, because they survived repeated attempts to disempower their assemblies, the early church is now the church universal. All great accomplishments — secular and religious — yet there is still so much more to be done.

In order to effect change, we have to recognize that we will encounter trials of many kinds, but that every trial is but a test that we have been equipped to pass.

Yet the challenge is personal. Might we be inspired by the heroes of Memphis by being personably involved in the movement, faithfully and patiently working for the freedom and parity for all people? The choice is yours.

Be Blessed +++

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial &. Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen by phone” at 626-226-1448. Be sure to Friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook and email us at mattersoffaith.mof@gmail.com. Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The Book at Book Blues.

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