Will we learn from history’s lessons?

By Gerald V. Paul

Eyesers, Dr. Mary Anne Chambers’ keynote address on Self-Empowerment at the Black History Month launch was also a clarion call for the church to continue to be engaged in the community.

She delivered her speech to a standing ovation Sunday at Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the Ontario Black History Society’s (OBHS) kick-off brunch.

Rewind: “It is my great pleasure to send greetings to you as you assemble to celebrate the 162nd anniversary of the founding of the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church has played a vital role in the community for many years. May God continue to shower His blessings on the work of your church as you continue to serve steadfastly in your community,” penned Dr. Jean Augustine while serving as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister.

The politics of slavery had an impact on the number of slaves entering Canada. Slavery in Canada was abolished in 1834 and runaway slaves were made welcome. The Underground Railroad conducted many hundreds of slaves to Canada. Eyes shared that moving experience with OBHC President Dr. Rosemary Sadlier when we visited historic sites on a trip to Windsor.

Yet we still have racial profiling and carding. When will it end? We are faced with a community broken one way or the other and in need of a message of self-worth – that you can do all things in Him, the Creator.

A basic psychological cause of suicide is that the individual has lost any hope of finding any meaning in this life. Loss of hope, of love or of self-esteem is the foundation.

“I have had great success as a schoolman and a leader. As of the moment, it appears that my last piece of dignity is being stripped,” penned Black school superintendent Frederick Holliday in the U.S., before taking his life. It was reported Holliday felt his integrity was on the line – his self-esteem.

When I was covering a conference in Trinidad and Tobago, the late Bahamas-born Dr. Myles Munroe made an interesting statement: “I do not have to be here.”

“Say what? Beg your pardon,” said my mental indignation. You see, Eyesers, I was in Trinidad earlier as a missionary on a voluntary teaching exercise at West Indies School of Theology at my own cost.

Guess what? The perception of the immigration officer was, ‘Since when yuh come here to teach fuh free, when white American preachers a come and then tek wee money and leave, ent?’

You see, Eyesers, when you are called, you serve where you are with self-esteem and self-worth, not only for you but the people you are ministering.

We know how Dr. Monroe lived and died: Prayed for an airplane. Received it. Flew around like a big shot and died in an accident. Was it worth it? To have the outward appearance of ‘arrived, wealth, fame’ and then lose it all?

So the faith community must take note that they need to serve, especially our beloved young people, not in a brand new Lexus – although that is not a sin- but do not give the wrong impression. Let’s give young people faith and hope in things supernal/eternal. Go in the trenches and communicate, make contact with young people. Share their pain, suffering. Share their joy, success stories.

What does the Good Book say? “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” Added not for you to show-off, rather you are blessed to bless others.

Others like the runaway slaves huddled in churches, which were stations on the railroad. In their memory, we stand on their shoulders, heads held high with self-worth, knowing God is alive and well.

Press on!

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul