On a Mission by Kwame Osei Reed

ON A MISSION

REV. KWAME OSEI REED

THE STORY IS TOLD OF A LITTLE BOY WHO LOVED GOING TO CHURCH WITH HIS GRANDFATHER.

AFTER LEAVING SERVICE ONE SUNDAY, THE BOY LOOKED INTENTLY AT HIS GRANDFATHER AND SAID, “GRANDPA, ARE YOU AFRAID OF DYING?”

SURPRISED, BUT PATIENT, THE OLD MAN SAID, “WHY WOULD YOU ASK ME THAT?” HIS GRANDSON REPLIED, “IN SUNDAY SCHOOL WE READ THAT IF YOU TRUST GOD, YOU WILL NOT BE AFRAID OF DYING.”

THE OLD MAN SMILED AND SAID, ‘IT TOOK ME ALONG TIME. BUT I HAVE REACHED THE POINT WHERE I AM NO LONGER AFRAID OF DYING.”

IS IT BECAUSE YOU TRUST GOD?” THE LITTLE BOY ASKED. “YES, AND IT IS ALSO BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS WANT TO GO TO CHURCH WITH ME. NOW I HAVE A PURPOSE IN LIFE. BECAUSE I HAVE A REASON FOR LIVING, I AM NOT AFRAID OF DYING.

I AM ON A MISSION “

ONE CONSISTENT MESSAGE FLOWING THROUGH OUR FAITH IS THAT THERE IS A REASON FOR YOUR BEING HERE. YOUR LIFE-MY LIFE HAS PURPOSE.

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YOU MIGHT HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT-YOUR GOALS-WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND HOW YOU PLAN TO GET THERE.

OR YOU MIGHT BE IN ONE OF THOSE PERIODS WHERE YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? WHY HAVE I BEEN HERE SO LONG.?

IN ONE OF THOSE “WHY” TIMES-“WHY ME?”

BUT WHETHER YOU ARE MASTER OF YOUR FATE-CAPTAIN OF YOUR SOUL—DOWN RIGHT CONFUSED OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, THE STILL SMALL VOICE OF GOD IS QUIETLY, BUT FERVENTLY SAYING TO YOU, “ I HAVE A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE.”

SCRIPTURE MAKES SOME CLAIMS. THE GREAT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE-THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS, COMES TO YOU AND QUIETLY EXPRESSES LOVE FOR YOU. FOR YOU. GOD’S LOVE. THERE IS REASON FOR YOUR LIFE.

STILL, THE MESSAGE-THE WORD THAT BREATHES THROUGH OUR FAITH IS THAT OUR GOD WILL NOT FORCE GOD’S PLAN ON YOU. YOUR JUDGMENT COUNTS.

DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH MOTHER THERESA? AT LEAST WHEN SHE SAID,

I KNOW THAT GOD WILL NOT PLACE ON ME BURDENS MORE THAN I CAN BARE. BUT I JUST WISH HE DIDN’T TRUST ME SO MUCH!”

.

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I WAS HAPPY WHEN I FINISHED LAW SCHOOL. ACTUALLY, I WAS HAPPY THAT I FINISHED. THAT WAS WHAT I SO DESPERATELY WANTED TO DO.

BUT I HAD ALWAYS KNOWN THAT GOD HAD A CALL ON MY LIFE. PEOPLE AROUND ME OFTEN SAID THAT I WAS GOING TO A MINISTER BUT THIS FUTURE LAWYER SAID “I OBJECT,’” NO!!!

I WAS ABLE TO CHOOSE WHERE I WANTED TO GO. SOME STILL SAY IN A VERY DIFFERENT DIRECTION. BUT I COULD NOT GET AWAY FROM THAT CALL. OUR GOD DOES NOT GIVE UP ON US..

THERE IS A MESSAGE THAT DOES AND WILL LET YOU KNOW THAT PEACE AND JOY COME WHEN YOU ARE WILLING TO RECEIVE THE CALL ON YOUR LIFE.

HAPPINESS IS POSSIBLE IN WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE. BUT HAPPINESS IS TRANSIENT AND HAS TO DO WITH EXTERNAL THINGS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.

JOY IS VERY DIFFERENT. JOY COMES FROM WITHIN. ONCE YOU START TO RECEIVE IT, JOY NEVER LEAVES

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THAT IS MY SERMON FOR TODAY. THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY….BUT I AM A PREACHER WITH A PODIUM AND A MICROPHONE. SO, LETS CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION FOR A FEW MINUTES.

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IN HIS BOOK, “PILLAR OF FIRE,” TAYLOR BRANCH DRAWS A DISTURBING PICTURE OF MY HOMETOWN. THOSE WORD PICTURES REGARDING THE EARLY 1960’S WERE DISTRUBING TO ME IN PART BECAUSE THE TRUTH HURTS.

IT WAS NOT JUST THE FACT OF THE BITTER AND DOWN RIGHT EVIL SEGREGATIONISTS THAT WAS SO PAINFUL.

IN MANY WAYS BRANCH PRESENTED ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS OF MY HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, WHO SEEMED TO ALWAYS BOW TO THE EVILS OF RACISM-LARGELY ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS OF OTHER LEADERS IN MY TERRIFIED PART OF THE VERY SEPARATE COMMUNITIES.

THE OCCASION FOR HIS INTRODUCING McCOMB, MISSISSIPPI IN THIS SECOND BOOK OF HIS TRILOGY, ‘AMERICA IN THE KING YEARS” WAS THE ARRIVAL OF BOB MOSES THERE.

ROBERT MOSES-NEW YORK CITY NATIVE-LONG TIME MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENT-TRAINED IN MATHAMATICS AND PHILOSOPHY, ZEN BUDDISM-

THIS MYSTIC WAS AN ODD DUCK IN THAT CESSPOOL OF AMERICANS’ INHUMANITY TO AMERICANS-DEADLY RACIAL HATRED BEFORE DURING AND AFTER HIS TIME THERE.

BUT HE WAS ON A MISSION.

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HE HAD A CALL ON HIS LIFE. HE HAD BEEN SENT TO MISSISSIPPI BY SNCC (STUDENTS’ NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE) AS A FORERUNNER OF ITS PLAN TO START A VOTING RIGHTS PROGRAM FOR BLACK FOLK, IN A PLACE

WHERE AFRICAN AMERICANS NOT ONLY DID NOT VOTE, BUT WHERE THEIR LIVELIHOODS AND INDEED THEIR VERY LIVES WERE IN DANGER, WHEN THEY EVEN ENTERED THE DOORS OF THE REGISTRATRAR OF VOTERS’ OFFICE.

WHEN HE FINALLY LEFT McCOMB-SEEMINGLY DEFEATED AND PERSONALLY BROKEN, NO AFRICAN AMERICAN HAD BEEN REGISTERED TO VOTE.

ONE PROSPERIOUS BLACK FARMER WHO HAD JOINED WITH HIM HAD BEEN MURDERED IN BROAD OPEN DAYLIGHT WITH MANY WITNESSES-MANY, INCLUDING MOSES, HAD BEEN SEVERELY BEATEN IN PUBLIC.

ALL SIDES, WHITE SUPREMISTS AND CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS DENOUNCED HIS FUTILE VENTURE.

YET! THE DESIGN AND GROUND WORK THAT HE PRESENTED AND TAUGHT WOULD BECOME THE MODEL THAT THE FEDERAL GOVEERNMENT AND ORGANIZATIONS WOULD USE TO BRING VOTER RIGHTS TO MISSISSIPPI AND THROUGHOUT THE REGION WHERE CITIZENS HAD BEEN DENIED THE FRANCHISE-THE BASIC RIGHT TO VOTE.

HE WAS ON A MISSION AND THE STILL SMALL VOICE GUIDED HIM WHEN ALL EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES

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SAID HE WAS A FAILURE. AT THE TIME LOUD VOICES SAID THAT HE HAD PRESIDED OVER A DISASTER.

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TAYLOR BRANCH DESCRIBED BOB MOSES’ GOING TO MY HOMETOWN.

I WITNESSED HIS ARRI VAL.

THAT FIRST WEEK, HE CAME TO A REVIVAL AT MY MOTHER’S METHODIST CHURCH. ALL OF THE BLACK MINISTERS IN TOWN WERE IN THAT PULPIT THAT NIGHT; INCLUDING THE PASTOR OF MY FATHER’S BAPTIST CHURCH.

WHEN ALL OF THEM REMAINED SILENT IN THE FACE OF BOB’S REQUEST FOR SUPPORT, I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT. I VERBALLY PROTESTED; EMBARASSING EVERYONE EXCEPT MY FATHER.

I JUDGED THEM HARSHLY. AS A 13 YEAR OLD, I UNDERSGTOOD, SOMEWHAT. BUT I DEDIDED THAT THE TIME HAD COME FOR OUR ELDERS TO STOP BEING AFRAID.

MY FATHER PUT HIS ARM AROUND ME. THE NEXT DAY HE TOOK ME TO A MEETING WHERE SOME OF THOSE SAME SCARED BLACK LEADERS WERE GATHERED ALREADY HAVING PLANNED A MEETING WITH BOB MOSES AND SOME CHRISTIANS FROM UP NORTH.

IT WAS THEN THAT I BEGAN TO LEARN ABOUT THE LONG HISTORY OF LOCAL FOLK JOINING WITH JUSTICE

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MINDED PERSONS FROM NORTH AND SOUTH COMMITTED TO CHANGE – TO A NEW DAY.

OH, I WISH I HAD TIME TO TELL THE STORIES THAT I BEGAN TO LEARN.

THE STORIES OF PERSONS WHO HEAR THEIR MISSION CALL CAN BE TRACED TO VARIOUS PLACES-EVEN TO THE HORRORS ASSOCIATED WITH SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS. BUT WHICH LED SAMUEL SEWALL TO BE THE ONLY ONE OF THE THREE JUDGES TO ADMIT GUILT-STAND IN HIS HOME CHURCH AND APOLOGIZE FOR HIS ROLE IN TRIALS IN WHICH 19 PEOPLE WERE WRONGLY ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT AND PUT TO DEATH.

SEWALL THEN DECLARED THAT THE CHURCH MUST BE THAT CITY SET ON HILL WHOSE LIGHT CANNOT BE HIDDEN. HE CALLED ON HIS CHURCH TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST THE EVIL OF SLAVERY.

THE MISSIONS CAN BE TRACED, MUCH LATER TO THE METHODIST CAMP GROUNDS HERE ON THIS ISLAND AND THE CAMP GROUNDS IN NEW JERSEY.

CERTAINLY THE CALL ON PEOPLE’S LIVES TO BRING AN END TO THE EVIL OF RACISM CAN BE TRACED TO THE AMISTAD INCIDENTS-WHERE JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, INSPIRED BY OTHER FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS, HELPED OBTAIN THE FREEDOM OF THE CAPTIVES IN HIS SUCCESSFULLY REPRESENTING THEM BEFORE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

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INPSIRED BY THIS SUCCESS AND WITH MONEY RAISED IN FREEING THOSE CAPTIVES, THESE FAITHFUL FOLK ORGANIZED THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT.

THEN AFTER THE U.S. CIVIL WAR, TEACHERS AND PREACHERS POURED OUT OF NEW ENGLAND GOING SOUTH- AND ON THE HILLS OF UNION SOLDIERS GOING TO EDUCATE THE RECENTLY FREEDPERSONS.

ESTABLISHING 500 KINDERGARDEN THROUGH 12TH GRADE SCHOOLS UNTIL PUBLIC SCHOOLS WERE ESTABLISHED THAT COULD RECEIVE BLACK CHILDREN AND ADULTS.

THE COLLEGES THAT THEY ESTABLISHED STILL EXIST.

THAT WAS A POWERFUL MOVEMENT THAT TRANSFORMED OUR SOCIETY.

BUT IT IS ALSO THE INDIVIDUAL STORIES THAT ARE SO FASCINATING. PERSONS WHOSE PERSONAL FAITH ENABLED THEM TO HEAR THE CALL TO GO AND NOT BACK DOWN.

WE TEND TO HAVE A SENSE OF THE HARDSHIPS THAT AFRICAN AMERICANS FACED UNDER AMERICAN APARTHIED.

BUT IT IS NOT WELL KNOWN THAT BOTH BLACK AND WHITE TEACHERS WERE BEATEN AND KILLED BECAUSE OF THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE UPLIFT OF THE FORMERLY ENSLAVED.

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THEY HAD A FAITH THAT SAID DO NOT FEAR WHAT EVIL PEOPLE DO TO THE BODY-THE SOUL WILL TRANSCEND.

THEY HAD A FAITH THAT SAID, THIS PART OF LIFE LEADS TO LIFE THAT DOES NOT END- WHEN WE TAKE OFF THESE CLOTHES, THESE RAGS THAT WE CALL BODIES, WE WILL STEP FROM LIFE TO GLORIOUS LIFE.

WAS THAT PIE IN THE SKY BYE AND BYE?

IS IT? IS IT OUTDATED OTHERWORLDLINESS TO BELIEVE THAT WHILE WE NATURALLY WORRY ABOUT OUR ILLNESSES-OUR DYING-WHILE WE ARE CRYING BECAUSE OF THE DEATH OF LOVED ONES-

THOSE SAME LOVED ONES ARE LAUGHING? NOT LAUGHING AT US, BUT LAUGHING BECAUSE THEY HAVE DISCOVERED THE WORD OF GOD HAS BEEN TRUE ALL ALONG.

WE WITNESS TO LIFE. LIFE THAT DOES NOT END. WE TRANSCEND.TO GREATER LIFE.

THOSE PERSONS BELIEVED THAT THIS MESSAGE WAS NOT PIE IN THE SKY. BUT IT WAS FREEDOM.

THAT WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, THEN! YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

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SHOWING GOD’S LOVE. SETTING THE RIGHT EXAMPLE IN YOUR DAILY LIVING.

UNLIKE GOD’S WORD. CHURCHES OF THE LEFT AND RIGHT DRAW FALSE DICOTHOMIES BETWEEN PERSONAL FAITH AND THE CALL TO LARGER CAUSES.

THE STILL SMALL VOICE THAT IS TRYING TO SPEAK TO YOU LEADS YOU TO JOIN WITH THE STRUGGLES FOR JUSTICE- FOR PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT.

CONFUCIUS SAID IT WELL, “I MUST PROTECT THIS WORLD.

BEFORE THAT, I MUST BE A POSITIVE PRESENCE IN MY COMMUNITY

BEFORE THAT, I MUST SET S GOOD EXAMPLE IN MY FAMILY.

BEFORE THAT, I MUST SEEK TO HAVE A GOOD HEART.

STILL, EACH OF US NEEDS TO CHECK WHAT WE ARE HEARING WITH OUR COMMUNITY OUR COMMUNITIES AND MAKE SURE WE KNOW WHAT THE MISSION REALLY IS.

SOME OF THE YOUTH IN MY FORMER CHURCH TOLD THIS STORY TO ME. NOW LET ME BE CLEAR. THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT ME-SO NO ONE IS OFFENDED.

THEY WERE TELLING ME HOW IN THEIR MINDS, I JUST DON’T GET IT SOMETIMES. OUR YOUTH ARE ALWAYS SMARTER THAE WE ARE-THEY THINK.

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THEY TOLD ME THIS STORY WHEN THAT MOVIE ALADAN CAME OUT-A SILLY STORY ABOUT 3 BLOOD FROM THE HOOD-3 FRIENDS FROM THE NEIGHORHOOD—[STORY]———–

YOU NEED TO CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE MISSION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY.

WE NEED TO LISTEN TO ONE ANOTHER. EVEN THOUGH I WANTED TO, I DID NOT CHANGE THE SUBJECT WHEN FRIENDS IN THEIR CYNSISM SEEMED TO ALL AGREE THAT THE ONLY THING THAT WILL COME OUT OF THE SO-CALLED BEER SUMMIT IS THAT A PROFESSOR AND A POLICE SARGEANT WILL WRITE A BOOK, GO ON TOUR AND BOTH MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

IF WE KEEP LISTENING AND TALKING WE ALL MIGHT SEE THAT UNDERLYING ISSUES OF STILL FESTERING RACISM WILL BE ADDRESSED,, EVEN IF THE PH.D AND THE COP DO ALRIGHT FOR THEMSELVES.

WITNESSING IN OUR EVERY DAY LIVES MATTERS.

I WILL CLOSE WITH THIS. THERE WAS A LITTLE BOY IN CHURCH. PEOPLE SAID THAT HE WAS BAD———————————————————————–=————————————————-

AMEN

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