February 17, 2016
This Week’s Storyteller is…
Regina Johnson, Kerr Memorial, Miami
Paying It Forward
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
The journey to a church rummage sale started out as a fascinating voyage. I discovered it was place where Jesus could live in the hearts of all people, regardless of color, race or religion. Every Saturday I would go on an adventure to a church with my mother; this quest would be a shopping spree of used clothing, food and other goods that mom could use to support her family in the 1960s.
This endeavor took place in South Miami, a community maybe five miles north of Coconut Grove near the City of Coral Gables, Florida. I grew up in South Miami, Florida, in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. This was a time when the churches were taking a stand against racial inequality, segregation and discrimination; thanks be to God, I was a little girl and my life was being shaped and supervised by God and my parents, being sheltered from the war of oppression, racial hatred and bigotry.
But, in the midst of this radical change for equality and justice and the struggle to survive the civil rights movement, my mother found refuge—safe harbor in the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church of South Miami. For an hour or two each Saturday, adults were able to set aside their differences, ignore the ugly world around them and respect each other across racial barriers in a church fellowship hall at a Saturday morning rummage sale. It was apparent that the racial difficulties outside the walls of the church proved to have no power over what was taking place on the inside of that church fellowship hall.
This Saturday morning mission was an exciting experience for a little black girl who was happy to be strolling along with her mom to a church building for food and clothing. I remember the pleasantness and gentleness of little old white ladies with beautiful silver hair, giving hugs, kisses, and sometimes milk and cookies. Now that I think about it, something had to be done to settle the children who came along with their parents.
My family attended Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami, so I knew of the church setting; attending Sunday school and worship service every Sunday was essential to the family. However, this Saturday morning stroll with my mom to the church made an everlasting impression on the way I would view the church and those who serve in it today.
In the midst of war and calamity, hatred and anger the church is where we find refuge and hope, peace and joy, love and kindness. Fifty years later, I am still reminded of the beauty, splendor, and compassion of God in a fellowship hall of the United Methodist Church. This is why I find joy in giving back to Jesus Christ and His church today.
Up Next Week…
Amy Perry, CrossRoad Church
Amy finding peace with her identity of being "in the hallway." This is God's story...as evidenced in Amy's life...for His glory.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011