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KEEPING THE FAITH | Caring for children truly 'The Greatest Love of All'

Our home has always been blessed by the overwhelming presence of children whom we consider our own by blood and spirit. We believe caring and mentoring children is a calling that has been answered by our families for generations. 
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

One of the first songs I ever performed publicly was the inspirational message of George Benson’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Those penetrating lyrics are still poignant today. 

It is the call to express your humanity and concern to benefit the common good. Beyond the beautiful melody, the message of this song compels us to recognize the power and strength of our unselfish acts of kindness. The act of love still remains a powerful force within our lives that fuels our responses while directing us toward positive light and energy.  

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.

Folks often ask my wife and me how many children and grandchildren we have and we both looked at each other in puzzlement. You would think after more than three decades this question could be answered with a rapid response. The truth is God has blessed our home with an abundance of children, both naturally and supernaturally which we consider each our own. 

Our home has always been blessed by the overwhelming presence of children whom we consider our own by blood and spirit. We believe caring and mentoring children is a calling that has been answered by our families for generations. 

Dorothy and I are mutually blessed to continue the tradition by sharing our hope, heart and home.

Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfills my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me.

The late Rev. George Clements was the visionary and founder of the One Church One Child concept. When he challenged members of his congregation to adopt a child no one came forward! Heeding his own plea, he became the first priest to formally adopt a child. His One Church-One Child philosophy remains simple: If every church would encourage and support a family to foster or adopt within its congregation there would be no displaced children. 

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity.

Imagine if we expanded this concept to encourage members of our congregations and faith community to intentionally mentor youth and their families. The person you know today as “Pastor Macklin” was guided and embraced as a child known as “Little Louie” by members within the community. 

The late Whitney Houston reminds us in the narrative of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child.” May we commit as members of our village to insure our children receive the necessary love, support, corrections and direction. They are looking to us for guidance. We must offer hope with a compassionate and caring attitude. Without a doubt, that will require much patience and thoughtfulness. Yet I am reminded we too once were benefactors of the same.

And if, by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love.

The Rev. Kenneth Donaldson, the pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church and community youth mentor, shared his battled-fatigued heart in a very profound, poignant and powerful appeal. With the same passion of the late Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights heroine who once lamented that she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Pastor Donaldson identifies the weariness of a community failing to actively confront its challenges:

I’m tired — Yes, TIRED! — I’m tired of the balloons on the telephone poles memorializing dead kids whose fathers traded in responsibility for a few dollars. I’m tired of the wet teddy bears, candles and airbrushed T-shirts with R.I.P. Get a grip! We are losing this battle for our kids!

I’m tired of our young boys borrowing their personalities from rap stars who never lived the life that our kids are dying for. I’m tired of the “old heads” glorifying the thug life instead of pushing our kids away from the things that had us bound! Don’t believe the hype!

I’m tired of these cycles. Chasing the roughnecks, getting knocked up, shot up and sent upstate.  I hate that we have gotten used to the “celebrations of life” when we did very little to celebrate them while they lived.  

I’m tired of the “GoFundMe” pages because no one has prepared to die, much less live. It’s time for us to give, give more than we take because too much is at stake. I’m tired of the complacency of the church that has the antidote to this sickness but stay behind the walls praising as the streets are hazing our kids, and selling them false dreams.  

Invest in one child. It’s easy to identify the problems. Become a part of the solution. Don’t talk to me about nothing. I know I don’t have it all together but I’m tired! 

Get active, and get out of the stands! Some of their blood is on our hands because we are not tired enough to do something.  

Start on your own block. Pick one child and make it your business to show them something different than what they see. Start under your own roof and the proof will be evident when that boy grows into a man and that young girl is so classy that these fictional thugs won’t have the confidence to step to her in any kind of way! 

Model what we say! Then and then only can we celebrate life! Celebrate a life well lived while they are living. We do that by giving our lives away. We are not here to stay so on my way home, I’m going to take one with me, help them see that God has more in store for both you and me! Are you tired?  Do something!

STOP THE VIOLENCE/PURSUE PEACE: The community continues to address the issues of violence within its neighborhoods with calls for prayer and action. Join me and area residents at 1:45 p.m. today for the first of several planned Prayer Walks & Holy Ground Gatherings. We will convene at the corners of Glenwood and Sherwood Avenues. 

Prayer appeals will be offered by Pastor James Bowie of Greater Friendship Baptist Church, Pastor Rafael Cruz Jr. of Unity Baptist Church, Pastor Tracey Dawson of New Covenant Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Kenneth Eldridge of Fellowship Tabernacle Christian Center, Pastor Ross Johnson of Bethel Church of God in Christ, Pastor Larry McCulloh of World Fellowship Interdenominational Church and Pastor Cynthia Wright Palmer of the Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church all of Youngstown.

The” Stop the Violence Campaign” has been embraced by the leadership and membership of Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods, Baptist Pastors Council, Community Mobilization Coalition, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Ohio Baptist State Convention and the Youngstown Police Department Chaplaincy. It continues to be a broad-based effort to galvanize the sacred and secular communities to work together to eradicate violent behaviors while promoting peaceful alternatives. 

SEE SOMETHING/SAY SOMETHING: We must use our voices and resources to address issues that negatively impact the stability of a community. There will be “Hot Cards’ available at the prayer march. If you believe that there is alleged or suspected illegal activity in the neighborhood, your help is invaluable in collecting relative information. This information will be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement and jurisdiction such as the local police chief, county sheriff or other agencies. All concerns are handled confidentially and you will remain anonymous. If you have additional questions, please call 330-775-9884.

Prayer for Focus and Strength: 

Dear Lord, 

I am exceedingly grateful for all You have done thus far on my behalf. Help me to shake off the limits of my faith. Keep me focused on the persons, places and things you have set before me. Remove the distractions and quiet the naysayers, especially the negative mental chatter from within me so that I can see Your Will with clarity.

As Your Word declares in Psalms 27:1, I am thankful that You are the strength of my life; You are my Rock, my Fortress and my Protector; therefore, whom shall I be afraid? You are my Shield, my Strong-Tower and my Stronghold. I will call to You because You are worthy to be praised. I thank you for being my Strength and My God in whom I trust. Now I humbly ask You to please reveal when You desire me to “Be Still” or to “Go Forth!” I trust You and I will continue keeping the faith. 


The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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