Community Columnists

KEEPING THE FAITH | Thoughts about the reason for the season

The Rev. Lewis Macklin
The Rev. Lewis Macklin

A wise elder once suggested about holiday shopping: “Before getting them what they want, consider buying them something they need or can read!”

My wife and I have long advocated the same among our family. Often educational in focus, we share gifts that incorporate the arts, literature and music.

Our adult nieces and nephews often reflect upon the Christmas that we gifted them all books. As an incentive, we offered $50 for an oral report and $100 for a written report. It would be accurate to say, my additional payout was minimal.

I imagine the stakes are even higher now as I ponder doing the same for my grandchildren. I suspect their ambitious parents would ensure a maximum payout. Perhaps I should simply insert $20 bills as bookmarks!

The reason for the season

I have some great suggestions if you are still looking for gift ideas for someone who has everything! Apostle Darren Thomas released his latest musical project entitled “Sacred Soul Christmas” and is destined to become a holiday classic. Every track reveals the essence of God’s love, grace and mercy. The compilation is available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and all digital platforms. Pastor Thomas is the founding shepherd of Rebirth Worship Center in Columbus, Ohio.

The Youngstown native is an accomplished palmist and preacher. I proudly acknowledge Pastor Thomas’ formation in ministry began years ago at the church where I now serve. He has traveled internationally sharing his profound and prophetic gift.

Help complete their personal library by securing a copy of the newly released book “The Guide to Unstuck” written by local physician Michael Chichak. It is a user-friendly 31-day devotional to assist you to get unstuck in whatever season you’re in! This powerful yet practical guide is for anyone who feels stuck in life’s ruts. You can purchase the book on Amazon.

This book will fuel the passion needed to pursue life goals and fulfill your God-given purpose. The principles in this guide will equip you with the skills to overcome the restrictions of being stuck in every area of your life. Dr. Mike also has an excellent podcast that shares messages that are motivational and empowering.

Judy Bowie, the first lady of Greater Friendship Baptist Church is a local author as well. This gifted educator wrote a book simply titled, “Beautiful” which is an easy read for children. Her brother Steven “Dynamo” Brown shared his talents as the illustrator for the completed work. Tilly, the main character, loves the beautiful colors of God’s creation. The applications contained within the book are timeless lessons.

The Mahoning Valley has been tremendously blessed with talented artists in various mediums. I encourage you to seek out and support their efforts. In future articles, I will share other projects that merit our consideration.

A Night of Hope

Second Baptist Church - A House Of Hope along with Trumbull County Children Services present Night of Hope 2021 today at 6 p.m. The evening’s theme “A Very Churchy Christmas” will feature national recording artist Terrence J. Dooley and Testimony.

This event in the sanctuary at Second Baptist Church, 1510 Main Ave. NW in Warren is free to the public and will also be streamed live online. The evening will celebrate the culmination of the 2021 Angel Tree Campaign which supports approximately 100 children whose care and well-being has been entrusted to the county.

Congratulations to Second Baptist Church’s Pastor Todd Johnson who was recently elected by his constituents to represent the interests of the First Ward residents in Warren. He was also elected by his peers to serve as the moderator of the “Great” Northern Ohio Baptist District Association.

A city-wide celebration

Consider this an early Christmas gift for the Mahoning Valley courtesy of Pastor Mark T. Jackson and the fellowship of The Light Church. Within the auditorium of East High School, nationally recognized Gospel recording artist Pastor John P. Kee will present his Broken Tour on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Light Church is located at 474 Bennington Ave. in Youngstown. Admission is free but go here to reserve your ticket.

Vax Up against COVID and the flu

Thanks for the positive feedback shared regarding the Glenwood Avenue billboard which reminds everyone that practicing “The Ups” is the right thing to do. The message is simple:

Mask Up outside of your home; Wash Up using soapy water to keep your hands clean; Back Up to maintain appropriate social distancing; Roll Up your sleeve to get your vaccination or booster shots.

Thanks to the Youngstown City Health District, additional billboards and messages will be posted throughout the city.

The health district is offering new shots, second doses, and boosters to those who qualify. They have all three vaccines: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer. You should bring I.D., insurance cards (if applicable) and your vaccine card if you are getting a booster.

The Pfizer vaccine is also available for children ages 5-17 years old. Persons receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will receive a $100 gift card. Flu shots will also be available and free with proof of insurance. Appointments can be made here, however, walk-ins are accepted as well.

We are blessed that area Houses of Worship have made their facilities available to the community. Here is the week’s upcoming vaccination schedule.:

Monday: New Bethel, 1507 Hillman St., 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Congregation Ohev Beth Sholom, 1119 Elm St., 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center, 903 Otis St., 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Metro Assembly of God, 2530 South Ave., 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center, 903 Otis St., 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Praise report

We thank God for the recent release of three additional kidnapped missionaries who served in Haiti. We remain prayerful for the safe return of the 12 remaining individuals representing the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. I believe Hebrews 6:10 is in full effect: “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do.”

Free at-home test kits and mask giveaway

The Youngstown Health District is also hosting a drive-thru to pick up at-home testing kits and masks just in time for the holiday celebrations! You may obtain these items on either Wednesday, Dec. 22 or Wednesday, Dec. 29 at the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center, 903 Otis St., from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Many area churches, temples, as well as synagogues also will have kits on hand to distribute.

The Emancipation Proclamation Service

The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Youngstown, after prayerful consideration, has decided to suspend the annual Emancipation Proclamation Services for 2022.

The Emancipation Proclamation should be considered the preface to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which translated into law most of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement, protecting citizens from racial segregation and discrimination.

Our hopes soared to heights of joy when we remember the emancipation of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and his rise to the presidency of South Africa after 26 years in prison. Yet mindful that apartheid exists, even in our beloved United States of America and manifests itself in different ways institutionally.

Blessed are the righteous laborers who have been on the forefront in our community to achieve equality and equity. We acknowledge our venerated leaders of the past within our secular and sacred community: the Rev. Elizabeth Powell, Bishop Norman Wagner, Dr. Ernest Perry, Rev. Dr. Morris Lee, McCullough Williams Jr., Ora McCain Barrett, Edna D. Pincham, Rev. Lonnie K.A. Simon, Arlette Gatewood, William. Ronald Miller, E. Nikki Davis, Pastor Eleanor Felder — and this list can go on for infinite!

We have been blessed with a plethora of ardent heroes and sheroes who have fought for social justice. There is no lack in God as He continues to raise new and innovative talents in our community.

Therefore, as we approach the anniversary of African Americans’ freedom from slavery, we proclaim for every subsequent generation that we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us to not to be weary in our journey because He did not bring us this far to leave us! Our challenge is to remain ever vigilant in our commitment to proactive citizenship. While the annual service will not take place, the efforts shall continue without ceasing.

Keep Hope Alive

At some point in our lives, we all will deal with hopelessness. No matter who we are or what our situation is, these days, it’s easy to be worn down by hopelessness. Every time I turn on the news it seems as though we are living in a strange and chaotic world.

HOPE is one thing we all desperately need. Hope is powerful! Hope is more than a motivational thought or a fading daydream — hope is a personal conviction that no matter how things seem right now, God will have the final word in my life. It’s an awareness that God is actually expecting, looking and longing to show you His goodness. Hope is what stabilizes your frantic thoughts and emotions — it is knowing that there is no problem big enough to keep God from rescuing you.

Hope is a positive expectation that something good is going to happen to you because of God’s great goodness. Hope is not a wishy-washy, vague, wait-and-see emotion, but an action you must choose to take on purpose each day. In fact, Hope and faith go hand in hand.

Hope enables you to persevere through trials and tribulations, as God uses these times to develop your character and endurance. For the true reward of a life of Hope is best summed in Isaiah 40:31 which tells us: “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

A year-end prayer

Dear Lord: As we approach this Holy Season and the end of another year, help us to retain our focus resolutely upon You. Amidst of all the distractions of the world, let us reflect upon the sacred place which represents a blessed quietness and an ever- still silent night, grateful at all times for Your grace and the power of Your Word that allows us to experience rest in Your love which renews our strength and reveals our purpose while we continue our endeavors to keep the faith. It is so.

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 eight grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

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

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