©2002 WingcomLtd. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from Tomi Morris Johnson.
February 17, 2002, Atlanta, GA…New Hope A.M.E. Church in Buckhead hosted its annual Black History Month Celebration Sunday with Rev. David R. Bishop, IV, senior pastor presiding. The theme was “Remembering Our Past, Rejoicing in Our Present, and Relying on God for Our Future.”
The Rev. Andrew Young was guest minister. Young is a former adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., former Ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter, former Mayor of Atlanta, and presently is Chairman of GoodWorks, International, a strategic services consulting group. He was accompanied by his wife, Carolyn.
In his opening remarks, Young compared New Hope to his home church, a small but refreshing change from mega-churches. Introduced by Celebration Co-Chairman Vince McFarlane as “one of the greatest and most humble workers in the history of mankind,” Young approached the podium and read from Deuteronomy 32:10-12 concerning the Song of Moses and God’s deliverance- saving power over Jacob and his people:
found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness;
He led him about, He instructed him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye. As
an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth
abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth
them on her wings:
Young said Moses realized he was not going to reach the Promised Land, but he was comforted and reminded of his heritage. That is what Black History Month is all about – remembering that God can make a way out of no way.
“The purpose of an eagle is to fly,” said Young. “In order to do that, he has to trust currents of air and the strength of his own wings. One problem with our community is that we don’t let our children fly. When you allow them to fly, you allow Our Heavenly Father, the Great Eagle, to catch them in His pinions if they fall. They learn to trust the unseen.”
Young remarked that he has a Good Father in Heaven, but his earthly father was not supportive of his work. He said his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps by becoming a dentist and playing baseball. Instead, Young became a minister and fighter for human rights. Young said while he was working with King, he was satisfied with staying in the background and whispering advice into King’s ears.
“MLK didn’t know what he was doing either,” he said of his early leadership years. “He was only 29 years old, the same age as my son is now, and very immature when he started in the Civil Rights Movement. He was afraid.”
“He liked to swim, shoot pool, and play basketball even though he was only 5’6” tall, but he could shoot with both hands! He learned that at the Butler Street YMCA. He liked to talk trash, too. We were the ‘get down brothers’ that just happened to be in the right place at the right time and had courage enough to do the right thing.”
Young said King would have called him a fool if he had told him in 1968 that he would one day become a U.N. ambassador or mayor of Atlanta. “He would have told me I didn’t have good sense,” Young added. “People do change.” He remarked that Americans have learned a diversified workforce aids economic development. Young said God allows a crisis to stand in our way, but we can overcome anything with amazing grace.
He said America was plagued by a moral heaviness before 9/11. “Sometimes we get too fat to fly. That’s what September 11 taught us. Before then, people were making money so fast that they got heavy materially and began to worship the stock market, cars, homes and even family.” Young added that tithing and putting God first will lead to prosperity and less waste.
“You’re simply a steward,” Young said. “God stirs up the nest and creates a crisis to help us understand that through adversity, we must strengthen ourselves and believe in Him.”
Young said that one of the darkest times in his life happened when President Jimmy Carter removed him from the United Nations. “I’ve been laid off. I came back home broke. I had no interest in leaving the U.N.” He said he was discouraged from talking to highly educated middle easterners, “terrorist” prisoner Nelson Mandela and his followers, and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu.
“Less that a month later, I was asked to run for mayor, proving that as one door closes, another one opens.” He said he inherited Atlanta's messed up finances similar to ones inherited by present Mayor Shirley Franklin. He ended his remarks by saying, “God’s way is always the right way. He is the powerful Eagle of our lives.”
This information is the opinion of the author and, therefore, should not be construed as libelous.