Let’s unite our community togetherPublished 12:03am Thursday, March 21, 2013
I promised myself that I wouldn’t write another article for a while but I just couldn’t help myself this time. This time it’s serious. I prayed for God to give me the words and the wisdom to convey this message to you. It all started two Sundays ago. My Pastor preached a sermon that really moved me. He read from Ephesians 6:1-20. The very first verse is what really captured my attention, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” He also spoke of raising our children in the ways of the church and making a stand for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone. That’s when the Holy Spirit began to move me, and I knew that I had no choice but to write this letter.
I moved back to Natchez a little more than three years ago. Since then, I’ve paid close attention to my community and the spiritual leaders. I found it hard to believe that my sweet little town had turned into a place of high crime and violence. I wrote about the things that I saw and I told you that it was going to get worse if things didn’t change. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are failing our children. How can the parents teach the children how to act when they’re bad examples themselves? All of this didn’t happen overnight. It’s a trickle-down effect that has gotten out of control. It’s my opinion that it starts with the Church. I used to think that the Church was the answer to all our problems. But the Church really is the problem. I see a separation, isolation and competition between the churches that deeply saddens me. All you have to do is stand around right after church lets out. It won’t take you long to overhear a conversation where somebody is talking about somebody else. I’m amazed at just how much gossip can be generated between the adults.
Too much focus is placed on the status of the next church. Who’s doing this, who’s doing that! I’ve heard stories of folks even fist fighting in church. I’ve found out that bad news travels much faster than good news around here. Too many people are caught up in holding a title or a position that makes them feel important. The churches are getting bigger, but the congregations are getting smaller. I’ve watched how the people leave their home churches to flock to the next one just because of the popularity it presents. The next time you’re in church just take a moment and look around you. Pay attention to the average age of your members. Think about what the next 10 years will look like. The children have been forgotten about. We have to keep in mind that they’re watching everything that we do. How can we expect them to act accordingly when all they see is negativity.
The shepherds are responsible for their flocks. The focus should be on building God’s kingdom. Divide and conquer is an old trick that Satan has used forever. We are all born to die. The goal isn’t to live on this earth forever but to create something that will. What about your legacy? It’s time for a change in the way we do things. Change is difficult but so very necessary. If God is the most important person in your life, it should show.
Now there’s someone probably saying to themselves, “Who does he think he is?” Well I’m just a true God-fearing man that’s passionate about Natchez. I’m a man that’s already died three times on the operating table as a result of five gunshots. I’ve already seen that brilliant white light that near death folks talk about. The prayers of the righteous saved my life. I know for a fact that God chooses the most unlikely people to use as an example. So I know a little something about humility, grace and mercy. God gave me a powerful living testimony to share with you. Yes, I lost the use of my right hand, but He blessed me with the gift of one finger on my left hand that I’m using to write you the very words you’re reading right now. I wrote a book that many of you have already read. I give away more than I sell because I want to be more like Jesus and spread the Gospel. I share my testimony with both blacks and whites. I’m hoping that somebody will see what I see. God has already performed a miracle on me, there just has to be a reason why He spared my life.
I realize that Natchez has a dark past of racial injustice. I’ve met some black and white racists. I don’t have time for either.
But times have evolved, and we can’t hold the future accountable for what happened in the past. You’re doing your children a disservice if you’re teaching them to hate the other race. Natchez has the potential to be a model city for the rest of the nation.
Your religion is not going get you to Heaven. It’s the love that we have for each other and God that will.
This letter is not intended to belittle anybody. This is just a passionate plea to get some attention to some real talk.
I’m just doing what I’m suppose to do. I have a dream of all the churches uniting. A dream of our youth seeing how we can get along.
In closing I’d just like to say, let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words. If that doesn’t happen, than God help us all!
Greg Marshall is an Adams County resident.