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KEEPING THE FAITH | Thoughts on blessings and MLK Day events

I cannot think of a more poignant period in current history for a comprehensive examination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., his mission and his methods, which were committed to a more fair, just and humane society. 
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

A ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, deserted island. 

The two survivors, who were good friends, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from Heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.” 

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?” 

The voiced boomed: “He prayed that all your prayers be answered!"

This illustration often reminds me in my prayer life not to be selfish, not to think only of my own needs or just my concerns. Material success is not an indicator of God’s presence and lack does not imply His absence. 

It also challenges me to consider how others can be blessed by my own intentional appeal on their behalf. As a child, I remember concluding my nightly prayers after naming members of my family for God to “bless everyone in the whole wide world!” While that was all-encompassing I am more deliberate and thoughtful.  

Not only do I seek God’s blessing, but I also inquire how He can use me beyond prayers to assist. So as you are reading this week’s installment, know that I am asking God for His favor and grace upon you. 

The Martin Luther King Commemoration Planning Committee is hosting a series of community events embracing the theme “Fifty-Three Years Later: Remembering What is Civil: Doing What is Right.” In all honesty, I cannot think of a more poignant period in current history for a comprehensive examination of the man, his mission and his methods, which were committed to a more fair, just and humane society. 

Bishop David Thomas once suggested, “May we have deep roots of conviction and great branches of compassion.” 

The committee has opted to make all of its MLK Holiday events virtual. The Community Worship Service will be today (Jan. 17) at 3:30 pm. The messenger for the service will be the Rev. Michael Harrison, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church.

The Community Workshop will be Monday (Jan. 18) from 9 am to 11:30 am. The topics will be “Criminal Justice Reform & Healthcare During COVID-19.” There will also be a breakout session for a youth discussion. Young people up to the age of 30 are welcomed to participate in this session which will be moderated by Bryant Youngblood. You must register in advance for the Workshop to gain entry into the room. 

These events are free and open to the entire community

Congratulations to Carl Davis, Youngstown’s newest chief of police. I have had the privilege of working alongside this man of integrity as the officer liaison for the Youngstown Police Chaplaincy. I also extend my prayers and blessings upon former Chief Robin Lees who supported the men and women of faith who serve as chaplains. These fine gentlemen have strengthened the partnership of the faith community as a means of promoting healing and peace. 

Finally, despite the national unrest and tension, let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not, so keep 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 and 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.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise