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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 work.

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 

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