They Know His Voice

“You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you and I forgive you.”

We cannot know if a racially-motivated mass murderer in Charleston, SC, really heard the words addressed to him by family members of his 9 victims.

We know that when church members welcomed him to join them in prayer, this damaged young man did not or could not hear the voice they heard. Or, if he did hear, he did not listen, because evil, hate-filled voices had captured him and held his spirit too tightly.

But that night, and since that night, Emanuel AME church family and friends gathered and gather to lift their hearts in prayer and to listen for the voice of our Lord. And many of us gather with them and one another to listen.

They were gathered in the name of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, who “goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice” (John 10:4).

And they, in their great grief, spoke to their loved ones’ murderer: “I forgive you.”

How? Because they know his voice, the voice of Jesus Christ.

That night, and since that night, Emanuel AME church family and friends gathered and gather to lift their hearts in prayer and to listen for the voice of our Lord. And many of us gather with them and one another to listen, too.

Those with ears to hear, let them hear.

 

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What Could We Do with 65 Million Dollars?

mite

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth a penny (Mark 12:42).

Except for a brief but unforgettable donkey ride, the Gospels indicate that walking was the mode of transportation Jesus and his disciples exclusively used. And Jesus and his followers covered a lot of ground on foot.

Following worship yesterday, we were at lunch with a few church families. I was asked: “Did you see where Creflo Dollar got his jet?” It took me a few seconds, and then I realized what he was talking about.

The Atlanta-based leader of World Changers Church International, Creflo Dollar, made headlines when he appealed to his followers to raise 65 million dollars to purchase a luxury jet for him. Dollar (that’s a loaded name) is now purchasing a Gulfstream G650 as a necessary (to him) means of sharing his faith message.

$65,000,000 — that’s a lot of mites.

Of course, many folks have commented and will comment on this use of resources and this use of Jesus’ name. This kind of offensive excess is an obvious and easy target.

But what COULD be done with 65 million dollars?

The Christian brother who asked me about this at lunch is deeply involved in our church’s ministry with an orphanage in Haiti. Through our partnership with Matthew 28 Ministries, we support and supply feeding centers for the orphanage and other children, a new school, Bibles, and a range of skills training for orphanage staff and area families.

As we sat at lunch, this fellow Christian, the Chief Financial Officer for a multinational corporation, did a quick calculation:

“In the context of our mission work in Haiti, $65M invested at 5% rate of return could yield $3,250,000 per year. A feeding center for 50 kids costs $3500/year. He pointed out that by this calculation, we could open 928 feeding centers in Haiti and feed over 46,000 children forever with a $65M endowment.”

He added: “Now that’s my definition of ‘prosperity gospel’.”

Let me reframe the question — what could we do with 65 million dollars in Jesus’ name? Because “Jesus” is a loaded name. Our Lord’s name is a variation of a Hebrew word meaning “he saves” or “savior.”

We Christians follow a man who went almost everywhere on foot. And he is still changing the world.