Old Memories. New Hope.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
The Lord’s presence is never so sweet as in moments of appalling difficulty. Robert Morgan
You can take the girl out of the Delta, but you’ll never take the Delta out of the girl. I haven’t lived in Indianola since 1971, but when I travel and someone asks, “Where are you from?” I always find myself replying automatically, “I’m originally from the Delta.” You may have to be a Delta native to relate. There’s just something about that place that sticks to you and defines a whole lot of who you are—and beyond that statement, I can’t explain it.
My earliest memories are riding the dusty ribbon of two-lane highways through those flat lands. Before the days of seatbelts and child restraint laws, I was either sitting shotgun beside my mother, the string reporter or eavesdropping from the backseat en route to Jackson or Memphis where Daddy would attend a meeting and Mama and I would shop. My parents’ nonstop conversation was a constant commentary on the health of the cotton crops as we passed field after field of the Delta’s unique gold bullion. I learned early on that when the crops were good, my daddy’s automobile business was good, too. If the crops failed because of too much or too little rain, the entire Delta suffered together.
I guess when your entire world exists within about a 200-mile radius you have very little means of comparison between your own normal and someone else’s. Across the Delta, there were always great numbers of poor people. There were also a good number of wealthy people, and then there were families like mine. We were just very middle class, I guess.
After I married and moved away and had my own family, I visited my hometown as often as I could. Somehow, I failed to notice at first how the poor were getting poorer and the little towns all along those familiar highways were looking broken down and sad. The winds of change were not being kind to my Delta. I think a lot of promises were made here and there by outsiders to bring jobs or to provide a more secure safety net to the have-nots, but most of those promises were empty. Many gave up.
In the past few months, however, I have been hearing much about revival sweeping across those very counties where Martin Luther King, Jr., launched his “Poor People’s Campaign” in 1968. I had to see for myself.
The truism that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is on full display. White and black locals, bound by a shared bond as brothers and sisters in Christ, are not just talking—they are working together and finding innovative ways to bring real hope and change to their communities. I think Dr. King would be pleased. I am pretty sure God is.
What we believe matters, but what we do with what we say we believe matters even more. I have heard from many a pastor that our God will always meet us at the point of our need. It’s also true, as Sissy and Danny Jackson demonstrate in our cover story this month, that consciously seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need, can open doors to the Gospel like nothing else!
Learn a little about my Delta this month. And Enjoy!