I can recall a time in my life in which I felt God had forsaken me; He had turned away. It was during the latter part of the sixties when many of my kindred, that is, black people, felt a type of foreignness about this land which had wrought nothing but bitterness and strife for them. Yet, that volatile time period was infused in the mindset of the black church toward making it become a more spiritually-inclusive haven. Consequently, I found myself being drawned to that venerable institution in which I made the decision to become part of the Family of God.

But what is a family? My own family had forsaken me; I could no longer perceive the Christian Church as the Family of God let alone the black church as a spiritually-inclusive haven. So how did I come to the conclusion that the black church was the Family of God when there were so many inferences to the contrary.

When I was thirteen years old, I became a member of a unique community of believers whose only purpose was cemented in the fact of living out their faith in the world. Yet, the powers-that-be in that small southern town of my birth kept blacks relegated to an inferior status until the Fall of 1970. I remember that the southside of town, where black people lived, had these dilapidated single-family dwellings that were a throwback to the days of slavery. Whereas the northside of town had recently added a brand new subdivision; of course, the northside was occupied by white people, but we blacks were giddy in wanting change, and thus, social equality to come to our community, but was powerless to bring it about. One way that blacks were able to prove their equal status with whites was through the power of oratory via the black pulpit. Thus, the black church became a political forum from which various ideas would be espoused so that conditions under which black people lived could be improved. However, the black church started becoming more distant from its' mission; alas, the leadership of the black church started going outside the parameters of the local community and inviting notable black clergy who had attained degrees of national celebrity to speak to their congregations. Needless to say, my hometown church began to drip away from its' mission and follow the dominant pattern of those major black places of worship.

I will never forget the day when one such clergyman was invited to speak at our church. The event coincided with that most infamous day of days: The day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. We were a very small and obscure congregation, but the dynamics of our faith were cemented in those fundamental principles of God's Word. In spite of obvious reservations about whether Reverend Fred C. Lofton would accept our invitation, we went ahead and extended the offer to speak; he accepted. Yet, up until that momentous event, we were sold on the church's mission in the world: We had no reason to believe that the Reverend Fred C. Lofton's presence would abrogate that mission.

Furthermore, the Reverend Fred C. Lofton had played a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement; he had stood alongside Dr. King and other notable leaders steering the movement toward its' chief objective: To not only uplift the grassroots of America's citizenry, but to give African Americans a basic voice in democracy. A lot was at stake then; black people had to prove to the dominant constituency of the status quo that they were just as patriotic as the most staunchest conservative plus bring themselves to a greater awareness of being American citizens. That objective was without precedence in how black people were expected to live up to certain societal demands imposed on them as a direct consequence of their equal status.

Needless to say, those demands were unexpectedly brokered when the Black Power Movement got underway during the latter part of the sixties'. But what does the Black Power Movement has to do with the spiritual-inclusiveness of the black church? The sixties' were an explosive era; so much so, that the many factions that vied for change during that time became pawns in the hands of whoever was able to incite the masses of Americans with their rhetoric.

Consequently, Stokely Carmichael, one of the leading proponents of the Black Power Movement would galvanize a new generation of younger more militant blacks toward a new sense of perceiving themselves. He would become a frequent speaker at college campuses where his power to incite the masses to take action would be felt. Even Dr. King would championed this new breed of activism, but he would fiercely warn of the too militant approach of their politics.

Alas, the black church would become something of a political forum and began to espouse ideas that went against the grain of its' true mission. That mission was nonetheless abrogated the day that the Reverend Fred C. Lofton spoke to our congregation. Our theme for that day was culled from Phillipians 1:6 which says "Being confidence in this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

It was midafternoon on a Thursday when we had gotten word about the shooting death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; and for two days, the church entertained the notion that maybe it would be best to call off the event. Yet, there was no telegram or phone call and on Sunday, the Reverend Fred C. Lofton shows up with a speech that was slightly altered from the theme.

The Reverend Lofton took that theme and espoused a brilliant treatise about the need for black people to not rest "until the day of Jesus Christ." It was a very moving speech that I will not quickly forget; it strucked a responsive chord with not only me, but with every member of that small, obscure congregation of my youth.

Finally, after that event, we were never quite the same again, but we knew that we were part of God's family with the mission of taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the "uttermost parts of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

Author's Bio: 

Roger Crain is an author, motivational speaker and a life coach. He has established himself as a professional journalist with a list of accolades to his credit.