Moving forward to see God work


     A few days ago, I listened to a woman share about a phone conversation she had with her father. Her father mentioned a blessing that brought tears of joy to his eyes. Her response to her father was, “Look at God.”


     Her 5-year-old son, listening intently to the conversation, said, “Mom, where is God? I want to see Him too.”


     This story spoke volumes to me. As I look around, I see God at work in so many lives through the Christian movement called Mission Mississippi. For 17 years, I have been active with Mission Mississippi in bringing people together across racial and denominational lines.


     In the early 2000s, I initially attended a Mission Mississippi event held in one of the local churches in Greenville. During that gathering, Dolphus Weary and Neddie Winters, along with others, gave the clarion call to move forward in racial healing. This vital moment encouraged me to not lose hope as a part of the body of Christ.


     Over 21 years ago, while living in northern Orange County; California, I visited a church the first Sunday after moving there. I selected this church by searching through the yellow pages the previous night. When I entered the church building, I immediately noticed it was a Caucasian congregation.


     As I walked around. no one looked me in the eyes. No one spoke to me even as I tried to say hello. The greeters, standing at the entrance of the sanctuary; did not offer me a worship bulletin. They looked away as I passed by them. When I sat down, it seemed no one wanted to sit next to me. The people on my left and right on the pew found some reason to move from my proximity


     As a young adult, I was devastated. I had not experienced this type of behavior as an undergraduate student at Mississippi State University, nor during my service in the military. To my surprise, this church had spoken hurtful words without opening their mouths.


     As I reflected. I see that God was placing inside of me this strong prompting to create a welcoming atmosphere for all people regardless of the color of their skin. I learned that I never wanted anyone to come to a local church to worship God in spirit and truth and not feel welcomed.


     I have not harbored ill feelings toward that church. I continue to cultivate relationships in Mississippi and beyond that will go deeper in building on trust, respect and truth. My prayer is that Mission Mississippi will continue to be a leading resource and catalyst for Chris tian reconciliation and racial healing.


     Thank you, Mission Mississippi, for inspiring me to stay focused and promoting living reconciled. To God be the glory!


Stephen  Cook is the West Jackson District superintendent in the Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, and a member of the Mission Mississippi Board of Directors. He and his wife, Erma, have two daughters and a soninlaw.