By Mandy Nevarez
I just recently returned from a Chaplain conference with the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry in Atlanta, Georgia. The highlight of the conference was a series of healing seminars they provided for the chaplains. I admit that I looked forward to these seminars, because of the population of hurting men and women sitting in our county jails.
However, what impacted me the most was a sort of “field trip” that both Chaplain John Sayers and I went on while we were there. We visited the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial site, and it was a powerful time of ministry and remembrance. We took a city transit train from the airport to downtown, where the memorial was. It was not the best part of town, and as we got off the train we were turned around a bit. We asked for directions, and the first person we encountered was a homeless man named “Tony.” You could tell he had been drinking, but his manner towards us was one of hospitality, and he was so helpful to getting us back on track. It was a privilege to share the love of Jesus with him, and we prayed with him, letting him know that Christ had not forgotten him.
We continued our way, and we were lost again down the back streets of Atlanta Georgia. You could tell there were drug transactions taking place in the park, and other things taking place all around us. I was so excited, because I felt God ordering our steps. The next person we encountered was a woman who had walked with Dr. King himself during the peaceful demonstrations he led in 1963. Her name was Ricki, and she was a 91-year-old, ordained minister, and now worked as a guide in the old Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King had pastored in, as well as his father and grandfather before him. Dr. King came from a long line of Godly men, and the Lord called him for a specific time in history to lead his people, and to stand for righteousness. He was uniquely equipped to minister to his people, and to a nation. We could take a lesson from his peaceful demonstration of love that impacted the world at large.
Dr. King spoke of a freedom that we have not yet attained as a country, but I hold to the promise of the freedom being fulfilled in Christ Jesus. It was such a blessing to walk where Dr. King walked, but it made me ask myself what are we doing as leaders, and as citizens to impact and make a difference in our own community here in Exeter, California. There is a rich history of agriculture, and faith in this community, but there are also those who are suffering from brokenness, poverty, and addiction.
I am blessed to be a part of a faith community that is attempting to put aside religious boundaries of doctrine and differences to come together, but we need to do more. Dr. King’s dream was one of social, and racial equality, and freedom for all. It was the Apostle Paul who said, “It is for freedom that Christ has made us free… You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. In this the law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” Galatians 5:1,13-14.
We are blessed to have so many resources in this small community. Let’s use the freedom and blessing that God has given to us to reach those who are still in spiritual and physical bondage. As Dr. King once said, “When we allow freedom to ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state, and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black, white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!’” Martin Luther King Jr.