On May 12, 1961 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and Albert Bigelow a World War II veteran and white Freedom Rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Two days later in Anniston Alabama a vicious mob of about 200 people bombed a Greyhound bus and brutally beat the Freedom Riders as they fled the burning bus. Later that day in Birmingham Alabama a Trailways bus carrying another group of Freedom Riders was meant with a similar fate These Freedom Riders were aware of the dangers they would encounter and over several months they were attacked repeatedly yet they persevered so that the racist practice of segregated bus terminals would come to end and in the fall of 1961 their perseverance bore fruit as the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations that prohibited the segregation of interstate transit.
THE FREEDOM RIDERS STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Liu Xiaobo was a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from China who through nonviolent protests fought against communist one-party rule in China. For his efforts he was imprisoned in 1989 to 1991, 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1999 and 2009 until his release in 2017 after he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He died less than 3 weeks after his release. Despite his multiple imprisonments he continued to fight until his death for the betterment of the Chinese people.
LIU XIAOBO STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Razan Zaitouneh was a Syrian Human rights activist who was involved in the Syrian uprising. She acted as a lawyer for political prisoners, was one of the founders Human Rights Association in Syria and the Syrian Human Rights Information Link through which she reported about Syria human’s rights violations. Razan Zaitouneh worked tirelessly for years to bring light to Syria’s oppress regime despite the obvious dangers involved with doing so. On December 9 of 2013 she was kidnapped and has not been seen since, presumed to have been killed.
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH STEPPED INTO THE GAP.
Michael Todd has been getting bullied at his new school since the year began. He would wear the same clothes every day and students at MLK College Preparatory School would make fun of him for it. High school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwann Garrett didn’t just go along with their class mates to be part of the crowd and on September 10, 2019 they surprised Michael with a bag full of bags full of shirts, shorts and shoes and apologized to him for previously laughing at him.
KRISTOPHER GRAHAM AND ANTWANN GARRETT STEPPED INTO THE GAP
Everyday countless number of individuals step into the gap. But sadly many in a position to do the most good lack the courage to step into the gap Last week at church my pastor preached to us from the book Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
In Bible times, cities had walls around them to help defend them from attack. Broken parts of the wall created a physical gap in the city’s ability to protect itself from invading armies. In this Bible verse, because there is a gap in the wall, God is looking for someone to step in and guard the broken, vulnerable territory.
Today God is still looking for us to step in and guard the broken and the vulnerable. Victims of violence, oppression, discrimination, bigotry. Those who are denied fundamental human rights such as medical care, food and shelter and education. Yet when we turn our eyes to Washington D.C. we find there are far too many concerned with their own self, maintaining their power and reaping the benefits that come along with it than with stepping into the gap. We see children, the Lord’s most innocent souls, gunned down in mass shootings yet no action has been taken to enact sensible gun control to protect them. We see mothers and fathers working two and three jobs, sixty and seventy hours a week yet still unable to earn enough money to put a roof over or adequately feed their families. Yet at every opportunity the very social programs designed to help them through these troubled times are slashed, and more and more money is appropriated to building weapons of war. Racism is unbelievably on the rise again in this country but far too many in power either pretend it doesn’t exist and simply ignore it or worse tacitly give their approval, so they can appeal to a base of unenlightened individuals they believe will allow them to maintain their power. Education budgets are cut and college tuition soars while tax breaks for the wealthy are passed into law. Prescription drugs prices rocket, inflating the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies while the affordable care act remains under constant attack. The gap between the haves and have not continues to expand as CEOs take home millions and workers struggle to survive yet steadfast opposition to raising the minimum wage continues.
We are witnessing the abject failure of the very individuals we have tasked with stepping in the gap. However, it is never too late as a people to change things. United each of our whispers becomes a mighty roar for change. We can demand that change takes place and we can start at the voting booth. We can educate ourselves on the issues and not let some 24-hour news network “opinion” show host skew our perception of reality. We can protest racism and social injustice and when those in power try to change the narrative and quiet us we can roar louder. We can rise as one and let our voices be heard. We can let them know that it is we not them who are the coalition of the many and if they won’t stand in the gap we surely will find someone who will!
They don’t really care about us.
This statement could be attributed to the attitudes of many so called American “Christians”. Many of whom have decided, led by Pat Robertson, that our current President was sent by God to save America. The same President who rose to power by preying on the baseless fears of many. Campaigning on a platform of hate, fear, and division.
A President who turns his back on the concept of global unity for a doctrine of America first.
A President who appointed an Attorney General in Jeff Sessions who once said: “We are a Christian nation. We should only be accepting Christian refugees.” This at a time when some twenty-two million people are displaced, and the world is amid the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Almost a quarter who are refugees from Syrians. Yet each iteration of Trump’s travel ban has sought to block travelers trying to enter the U.S. from Syria, and to restrict refugee admissions from the country. A country whose people are so devastated Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in May of 2018 “I’ve seen refugees from Asia to Europe, Kosovo to Africa. I’ve never seen refugees as traumatized as coming out of Syria.”
A President who has submitted proposed budgets that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies. A budget that would gut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, by $17.2 billion in 2019 — equivalent to 22 percent of the program’s total cost last year. It calls for cuts of more than $213.5 billion over the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
A President whose policies are applauded by many of his “Christian” supporters as Making America Great Again.
But Matthew 25:41-46 is clear in saying:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
This is a resounding answer to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9), The person who helps those in need will inherit the kingdom. The person who fails to do so will be relegated to fiery punishment.
It has always been easy to say to the world I am a Christian. It is not so easy to live your life as a follower of Christ and his teachings.
Are you ready to show through your actions that you can love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39)?
Are you ready to show through your actions that you can feed the hungry, clothe the needy, visit the sick? (Matthew 25)?
Are you ready to show through your actions that you are ready to love your enemies (Luke 6:27).
Sadly, for many of those that love to brag America is a Christian country, founded on the principles of Christianity it seems want their religion to be is easy and simple. A religion that affords them a comfortable living with no room for outsiders unless they immediately become like them.
The time has come to choose. Are you a person who simply gives lip service to the teachings of Jesus?
A man who gave his life willingly as he said:
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10:17-18 NLT
A man who died willing for our sins, to save us and purchase us from death.
Or are you a person who chooses to follow a President that many have turned into a false god.
A President who preaches hate and division.
If you truly are a follower of the Lord, it shouldn’t be a hard question at all to answer.
Because as a follower of Christ the world should be saying:
They really do care about us.