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Let the Walls Come Down
On August 15, 1999, I felt
a sense of history as I participated in worshiping our Lord with the members
of New Hope Baptist Church in Lake Village, Arkansas.
In 1850, racial tension ripped
apart Baptists at the Mason-Dixon line. Southern Baptist believed missionaries
could own slaves, the Baptists in the north disagreed, so we split. Eight
short years later, a slave, Jim Kelly, started the New Hope Baptist Church.
To prepare for its 100th anniversary, the members of the church
remodeled the auditorium in 1958-nothing has been done since.
Our Mission Team arrived
to tear down the interior and put up a new one. The work was hot, dirty,
and noisy at times. Exactly what you'd expect-tearing down walls is hard
As the worship service began,
Rev. Haney said, "Will you stand to welcome the choir as they enter the
room." I stood. The back doors of the auditorium opened and the choir began
singing a song and swayed into the building. We worshiped.
As the guest preacher approached
the pulpit, I glanced at my watch-we'd already worshiped for almost an
hour and a half. It seemed like minutes.
At the end, I stood to give
the closing prayer. For a few minutes I looked at the congregation without
saying a word, then began thanking God for the service, the presence of
His Spirit and the privilege of worshiping and serving him.
As I said Amen. The people
just stood there. No one began to move. I didn't move either. I didn't
want the moment to slip away. It was historic. Our church, made up of Anglos
and Hispanics from New Mexico drove 1000 miles to hang 125 sheets of dry
wall and worship with a Black congregation. As we left, I couldn't help
but hear the sound of walls falling down.
"For he is our peace, who
hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between
us;" Ephes. 2:14