While teaching Bible at Desire Street Academy I developed a series of lessons that I called “Famous African American Christians”. Approximately every Wednesday I would teach a lesson and help the students discover African Americans who became well known for many things, and who primarily gave glory to God for who they were. Some in the series are well known, others are not so much but who through a little research I ‘discovered’.
Why embark on a series such as this? Mainly because I love telling stories about people whose faith can inspire us all. A second reason is to educate people about some Christians who in my humble opinion people should know about. A third reason is that I pray that these stories will help break down barriers that still exist between those who worship primarily in racially divided churches.
You may use these stories for family devotions, for dorm discussions, for work discussions, for carpool discussions, at your Sunday School classes, youth groups, bowling league, at the barber, stylist, I don’t know, tell these stories! They’re interesting, fun, tragic, sad, inspiring.
Finally, if you have a suggestion for someone, send me a note, comment here, give me a phone call. I’ll do the research, writing, etc. I’m a teacher, it’s what I do, I enjoy it.
Check back Wednesday, I’ll have my first post. I’m not sure if I’ll produce one of these every day, but most days I’ll try.
When I attended our Grandma Gantz’ funeral we were instructed to open our Bibles to Isaiah 55. It was explained I believe by my Uncle that this was Grandma’s favorite chapter. I took out my pen and made a note at the beginning of the chapter “Grandma’s Chapter”. I’m glad I did. I can now, nearly 22 years later (she passed away in March of 1990) remember her each time I look at Isaiah 55 in my Bible. I can read the wonderful words of this chapter that loses attention to its’ proximity to the very well known Isaiah 53.
I had an Isaiah 55 type of week.
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.”
My job can be trying at times. I in no way pretend to have cornered the market on trying jobs. It’s a daily struggle for a lot of us here on the earth. I guess I could blame Adam for messing it up for all of us, but that might be counterproductive. After several trying days at work, with the death of a former student weighing on my mind as well, I came home feeling defeated. Maybe there’s something else the enemy whispered in my ear. I went out for a walk after dinner. I felt miserable. I had my walkman with me and after listening to a sports show for a while, I began to thirst. The enemy said, you’re not thirsty, the Spirit said, you are thirsty. Listen to your podcast you downloaded today. I did. I thirsted. I listened. There’s a time for weeping, a time for laughing, he said. In fact, he continued, there is an eternal purpose in what you do. Okay, eternal purpose, that’s good. Maybe this can be done after all.
Wow, now I was getting satisfied. My thirst was being quenched. The enemy was neutralized. His defeat for this night was still to come.
I kept walking, I try every day to walk for exercise, so I was briskly walking by Cedric’s house. Cedric is a man in the neighborhood whom Janice and I have met in our frequent walks around our little subdivision. Cedric is a believer. He has a great Spirit within him, and as these things happen, he pulls into his driveway just as I’m passing by, and just as the preacher on the walkman is finishing, sees me and bellows “hi Steve”. I almost didn’t hear him. But I did. I ran over, we exchanged pleasantries.
I knew he’d be interested in the story of my tough day with the kids at work as he used to do the same thing. I told him of my relying on my own devices which was very unsatisfying and leading to frustration, and how the preachers’ message resonated. He offered to pray for me.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:7) There on the streets of our subdivision the LORD was near. Cedric prayed. It was a powerful prayer. I almost want to say I felt it, but that would sound weird. I walked away feeling like a new man. I did go to school the next day, it was a great day with the kids, I laughed, made them laugh, (see the you shall go out in joy part below) and I came home rejoicing in the LORD who had done it all.
The chapter ends with some great words: “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle (we know what a myrtle is now that we live in Louisiana!) and it shall make a name for the LORD and an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
I’m getting emotional thinking of Grandma. I am the opposite of Grandma Gantz. I’m excitable, loud, opinionated. She was a beautifully stoic, faithful, graceful woman. I wish you all had a chance to know her. I’m grateful that for 26 years I did.