Since contributing to the writing of Mahoning Matters for matters of inspiration and faith, my intentional effort has been to offer a balance of hope amidst life’s challenges, humor to alleviate stress and anxiety, information about events in the community and help for those who need to access community resources.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know my plans for you,” says the Lord. “These are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, a fair question to ask: “When should we have hope? Psalm 131:3 provides a wonderful answer: “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord — now and always. This verse speaks to Israel, but it can just as well speak to us. Hebrews 13:5-6 advises us to have hope in our conduct: “Do not love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God said, ‘I will never fail you. I’ll never abandon you. So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can simple people do to me?
Yet our hope must be applied correctly. Psalm 130:7 says, “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. We must therefore maintain this hope. The gospel of Mark 5:25-28 provides an excellent example of the blessing obtained in the pursuit of hope: “A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a lot from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had not improved. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard of Jesus, so she walked behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. Because she thought, ‘If I can only touch her dress, I’ll be healed.’”
Finally, Psalm 31:24 advises us on how we should hope: “So be strong and courageous, all of you who put your hope in the Lord! The late Reverend Lawrence E. Shells once shared, “All discouragement is the product of misdirected trust and expectations. The cure for discouragement is a clear focus on Christ. Alexsey Plotnikov, a social media influencer, recently remarked that “Even though it may seem like all doors are closed, the door to heaven is always open!” Trust in the power and might of God, who remains our best hope. here is the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s Inspirational Message “God Is A Great God”.”
Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
It has been correctly observed: children can say the craziest things. This is especially true when they are in church. As my own children read this missive, they’re likely to breathe heavily thinking, “This is just awesome! Dad went from using us as illustrations for sermons in church to advertising our business in his article. To which I can only say, “Calm down, your shenanigans are safe with me…this week!”
First episode: A little boy was at a relative’s wedding. As he walked down the aisle, he took two steps, stopped, and turned toward the crowd. Facing the crowd, he raised his hands like claws and roared. So here we go, step, step, ROAR, step, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle. As you can imagine, the crowd was on the verge of tears from laughing so hard the moment he reached the pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child snorted and said, “I was the ring bear.”
Episode two: One Sunday, a young child was “acting out” during morning worship. The parents did their best to maintain some order on the bench, but they were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked up the little guy and walked sternly down the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the home, the little one cried aloud to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”
Episode Three: A little boy was heard praying, “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry. I’m having a great time like me.
Episode 4: The preacher was wired for sound with a lavalier microphone, and as he preached he moved briskly across the platform, wiggling the mic cord as he went. Then he moved to the side, wrapped in the cord and nearly tripped before shaking him again. After several circles and shakes, a little girl from the third pew leaned over to her mother and whispered, “If he comes off, will he hurt us?”
Episode five: A 10-year-old girl, under the tutelage of her grandmother, was beginning to know the Bible well. Then, one day, she floored her grandmother by asking her: “Which virgin was the mother of Jesus? The Virgin Mary or the Virgin King James?
Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to do acts of love and good works. And let’s not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but let’s encourage each other, especially now that the day of his return draws near.
Men of Color Summit
The Reverend Kenneth Donaldson, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church and newly elected member of the Youngstown Board of Education, and I will be presenting at the Youngstown State University Colored Summit on Saturday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be held at the Larricia Cultural Collaboratory within Jones Hall, 410 Wick Ave. The keynote address will be delivered by Mailk Mostella who serves as the community liaison for the Youngstown Police Department. Carol L. Bennett, deputy provost of diversity, equity, and inclusion, appointed graduate student Orande Roy Jr. to lead this effort. For more information or to register, call 330-941-3522.
Black History Webinar
Join the Minority Community Vaccination Action Group, made up of community leaders and medical experts, for a Black History Month conversation: “What more will it take?” The hour-long zoom aims to further educate and answer questions about COVID-19, MCVAG’s role in increasing vaccination rates among minorities and, most importantly, is a space to hear ideas and community thoughts to further reduce the spread of the coronavirus and vaccinate more minorities. Dr. Dee Banks, a world-renowned infectious disease physician, will discuss the facts and fiction about COVID vaccines. The event will take place remotely at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 28. The link to join us will be provided next week.
Isaiah 58:7: “Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those in need and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Youngstown Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
The sorority is seeking community support for its ‘Caring for Kenya’ fundraising project. Proceeds from this project will go to the I Can Fly International School in Machakos, Kenya. I Can Fly International’s mission is to provide “quality education, lifesaving programs, shelter, meals and enrichment activities to dozens of children affected by extreme poverty, female genital mutilation, early marriage, tribal warfare, abandonment and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.”
The organization’s theme for 2022 is “Expanding Opportunities for Kenya’s Forgotten Girls”. They focus on fundraising for technology upgrades and Wi-Fi access for the school campus. They are also launching a new community outreach program due to the increase in domestic violence, prostitution and teenage pregnancies among I Can Fly International students who had to return home to their villages during the related lockdown. to COVID-19 in Kenya.
The Youngstown Alumnae Chapter is seeking donations from supporters in the community to help I Can Fly International with its mission and goals for the year. Tax-deductible donations may be submitted to: Delta Research & Education Foundation (DREF); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; PO Box 1455, Youngstown, Ohio 44501; Memo: Caring for Kenya.
Mahoning Valley Stay in the Past
Area students on the immersive seven-day civil rights trip are organizing fundraisers to cover their $600 share of the trip’s total $3,700 cost. They’re hosting a take-out pasta dinner sale from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 at Flambeau’s Live, 2308 Market St., Youngstown.
They are also sponsoring a Chipotle fundraiser at the Boardman location from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. To enter, all you have to do is tell the cashier that you support Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past and they will direct 30% of what you spend on students.
Finally hold on
God never promised us that this life would be easy, but He promises that He is greater than any storm we face…and He is always working for good. He is with us. Right in the middle of it all, so keep the faith.
— Reverend Lewis W. Macklin II is the senior pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain to the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Ministers Council, and local coordinator of the Mahoning Valley African American Men’s Wellness Walk. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and eight grandchildren and their mischievous dog, Sir Winston.
— All Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation, unless otherwise stated.