Over the weekend, God was baiting the hook. Based primarily on my social influence, I was extended an opportunity to attend CHAT, South Florida’s Gospel Brunch (test) Tour. The expedition would allow media and other influencers to visit the Black church as a tourist, and unbeknownst to me, I was amazed by the experience from start to finish.
In all honesty, being a Christian, the idea of visiting the church as a tourist did not sit well with me when I first heard the idea being discussed between CHAT CEO Stephanie Jones and Pastor Henry E. Green, Jr. of Mount Hermon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Jones mentioned, “The goal is not to have tourists spectate but to share in the worship experience.” The opportunity for Black business owners to become a part of Florida’s Billion Dollar Tourism industry was evident, and pastors in particular, could find unique ways to generate funds while introducing new audiences to The Word of God. While I was trying to find peace in the idea of gospel tourism, God was fishing, and He knew exactly what to bait the hook with.
The Gospel Brunch excursion began with a tour of my stomping ground, Black Fort Lauderdale, led by retired Old Dillard Museum Curator Derek Davis. Davis fascinated tour attendees with his in depth historical accounts of the area.
Most Black churches got their start by holding church service outside under a tree. We visited those trees. We also came to understand the allure of project housing, and we even gained a better understanding of Dr. James Sistrunk, the Mizell family and what we call shotgun houses.
I flashed back to my youth, a time when my great grandmother lived in a shotgun house. I remembered the yogurt cups she used to spit tobacco in, a can of grease sitting on the stove, and a corded wall mounted dial phone. With each visit, my mother, my sister and I could expect to receive a dollar from her. Despite what it looked like, I was convinced granny had millions stashed under her mattress in an old tin coffee can. Yet as we moved out west as a family, her refusal to move with us was baffling.
This tour helped me to better understand her pride in her home. My history was on the hook.
Our visit to Fort Lauderdale’s Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the few places Blacks could be buried in the 1920s due to segregation, was gut wrenching when we learned that plans to enlarge Interstate 95 near Sunrise Boulevard included paving over some of the dead.
Amongst us, a diverse group of tour attendees inclusive of Whites, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Elderly and Millennials shared emotional disgust. Together, we saw with our own eyes the history of America’s blatant disregard for Black bodies. Even in death, we could not sleep in peace.
My empathy was on the hook.
Thankfully, Pastor Green was ready for us. His church staff greeted us with true southern hospitality, and the youth choir sang songs of rejoice before Pastor Green shook the walls with a message entitled “Faith in Desperate Times.”
God was fishing. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I knelt at the altar: unstable relation-ships, business deals gone bad, and more needs than money.
“A certain amount of rain will fall”, said Pastor Green, but thank God, we serve a God that will get in your business.” Often times, we are surrounded by people that won’t get in our business, but I want you to recall a time when God got in your business…”
The hooked was baited.
I had to give thanks. God had saved my home from foreclosure, healed me from a 7 year battle with high blood pressure and delivered me from some of the most imbalanced relationships. God met me where I was to make sure I got a Word that would increase my faith, ensure healing and inspire others.
It is my prayer that God met some of you in this edition of On the Scene. God still has his eye on us. Even in desperate times, He knows what to bait the hook with.
Crystal Chanel Press Release Marketing, LLC, Event Hosting – Marketing – Public Relations
www.justpressrelease.com @PressReleaseLLC on Instagram