Growing in Christ through forgiveness : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

One of the things I think about as a pastor are the areas within my life that I need to work on as a Christian for it impacts my ministry. And also to acknowledge spiritual growth when it occurs. The other night I was watching a christian show and the Pastor talked about "forgiveness" he said by not forgiving it opened the door to the enemy to take over our hearts.

I agree! One of the areas that I have seen tremendous growth for my self is in the arena of forgiveness, I have learned to forgive others and the hardest growth area for me was learning to forgive myself. I am getting better. The things that Jesus taught us, is a gift from God so we will not be burdened with hatred in our hearts, or beating up on our selves.

I remember many years ago I held a rally in my town, because the aryan nation had sent out mailings to residences in town, they were actively recruiting. Eight of them showed up at a rally I was having against white supremacist coming to our town, and began calling me the N word and saying to those at the rally "you are N lovers and enemies of the white race" several people became angry and wanted to fight them. I said NO! We will wear them down with the love of Christ, we sang we shall overcome louder and louder, till we could not hear their taunts, they came closer and closer because they wanted to upset us. As they got 4 feet from us. I stopped the singing, the Holy spirit told me to tell them we love them. I hesitated but I was obedient. I instructed those at the rally to repeat after me. We began to say " We love you" over and over again. It became a chant, we moved closer to them and kept saying it, they began to back away and finally ran away. The next day the story of love chasing evil away was in our paper. By the way that was 8 years ago and they moved out of my town.

What I have learned from that lesson is that the power of Jesus Christ is in love, and that it is magnified a million fold. I do not hate the aryan nation. For to do so takes my focus off Christ. Forgiveness empowers us. For many of us, we are carrying old hurts from the past, something mom, dad a relative did to us. It is time to forgive to be set free.

What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2003

Answers of those Christian words we just love to hear and talk about like it's sisters obedience, sacrifice, and humility. I think forgiveness is so important to our Christian faith.

I work with a ministry that ministers to women who have had abortions and forgiveness is the biggest stumbling block. They have problems forgiving themselves and others who may have contributed to their decision making in aborting the baby or in many cases babies. Usually as far back as a parent. It is so wonderful to see them move through forgivness and encouraging them to walk in that present reality, ultimately realizing that Jesus wiped it all out and

For myself, I'm finding as I continue to grow and mature in my Christian walk, forgiveness is becomming easier but remains a challenge and I have to remind myself that if Jesus can forgive me for my MANY MANY MANY.....who am I to not extend that same grace towards someone else? I have to check myself daily when I catch myself holding on to stuff that I thought I had healed from. It is such a great feeling to REALLY walk in forgiveness the burden is so light and it is that very feeling that I go to in prayer when I have to forgive someone - primararily myself.

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2003

As usual my sister, you are right on target. To not forgive does open the door to the evil one. After I read the story of the ayran nation, my thoughts went to Stephen who forgave his killers even as they stoned him to death and the three Hebrew boys (excuse me 4 Hebrews) in the fiery furnance; "Even if God does not deliver us . . ." for even if the ayran nation had persisted, God is still God and you and your group did the right thing in forgiving this group no matter the outcome.

Be Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2003

Rev. Paris, you have been one of my mentors from the beginning of my ministry with the ame church and I truly value your support and thoughts. Thank you for your kind words. One of the hardest groups I have to forgive have been the United Methodist in Montana. I was the first person of color in this conference in the UMC. By Bishop at that time is one of the greatest scholars on missions. He is japaneese american and he shared how badly he was treated.

I had been Methodist since the age of 16 when they came and told me God loved me, I was a high school drop out and bitter, but they showed me love. I was racism and was with the nation of islam and yet they showed me loved. So when I got to Montana I did not expect the level of racism I encountered. It was horrible. It has been 11 years and it has taken me 8 years to forgive the methodists in this conference for what they have done to me. I did what so many other do I lumped the entire denomination in the same boat with the few that hated me. I forgot the wonderful things the denomination had done for me, I let the hatred of a few color my perspective. Just what the enemy wanted.

This year I was asked to do a funeral for a prominent family in my town. They are United Methodist and I have done 3 funerals for the family. They asked the pastor if I could do the funeral and they would pay triple the price because they wanted me. The day I got to the church. The event coordinator said I was not allowed on the pulpit because they do not allow blacks on the pulpit and that I could do the eulogy standing on the side. The funeral director refused to speak to me. The family walked in and requested that I also sing. I said I would. I had a music track. Then another pastor walks over to me and said "you are not allowed on the pulpit, I will do the service." I looked over to the family that were only holding on because I was there. The pastor said "You do the eulogy" I said "that would be fine"

I sat on the side while the other pastor opened with prayer, he was horrible and I could see the family was outraged. The spirit told me to go to the pulpit. I did, and I thanked the pastor for opening the service, I next sang a song the UMC turned my mike off. I do not need a microphone to sing, and when it came time for the eulogy "I preached a wonderful sermon" there was such joy on the families faces. I allowed the other pastor to close the service. I walked over to the funeral director and said "God saw what you did to that family and I will pray for you"

I wrote my Bishop and Presiding Elder to let them know what happened. That UMC church is falling apart now, the Pastor is overwhelmed because his wife is dying of cancer. I have offered him my prayers and I have said when the time comes I will come and help his church. He was shocked that I would do that. I had forgiven him.

I read so many times on the board about things the ame church has done. It is not 2.5 million people who have done something but a handful. The children of darkness want us to hate and not forgive. But when we do we are free to receive God's blessings.

My ministry is unique, joyful and transforming. When we as the body of Christ forgive one another then we are set free. Again thank you Rev. Paris, I always know I have your support.

-- Anonymous, October 24, 2003

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