Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Excerpt from Ch. 16 – New: Wineskins and the Simple Words of Christ

When God’s Spirit invades us, it should not only birth in us a new devotion to the Scriptures, other members of the body of Christ, and communion with God, but we should also long to gather more and more people into His family, regardless of the sacrifices required.

My mother’s parents, Horace and Alto, were committed Christians who lived in the West Texas town of Rankin during the early 1960s. One day, the small Baptist church where most of the African American community attended burned down, leaving them without a church home. Alto, feeling this was what Jesus wanted them to do, invited an African American child to go with her and Horace to the all-white First Baptist Church of Rankin, where they attended.

This happened before laws were passed to end segregation, and needless to say my grandparents’ decision caused quite a stir in the church and in the town. Yet they continued to bring this girl. Soon, African American children from two families were coming with them each week, and eventually several Hispanic children came with them as well.

Sunday after Sunday, my grandparents brought these children to church despite subtle and not-so-subtle resistance from church members and friends. One day, the oldest girl told my grandmother she wanted to give her life to Jesus and be baptized. Once again, this was a problem for the majority of white members who felt they had already made significant strides in allowing these children to attend their white church. After all, getting baptized at First Baptist Rankin meant membership.

My grandfather, a deacon, dug in his heels and stood up for this new daughter of the King of kings. The pastor said he would meet with the others and thought things would be all right. When the deacon body met, they voted to allow the child to be baptized into the church. And so she was.

In spite of intimidations and persecutions, First Baptist Rankin was integrated, and my grandparents became living examples of how the power of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost enables us to walk as Jesus walked. It is a tall order “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). It can often feel like an impossibility to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Jesus (see Matthew 16:24). It is a tremendous task to go into all the world making disciples of Jesus, teaching them to obey everything He commanded (see 28:19-20). However, those whom God calls He equips.

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