Christina Marie Bennett, a Connecticut-based conservative writer and pro-life advocate, offers a compelling case for the power of forgiveness.
Blacks in America have a long, rich history of holding prayer meetings. In the days of slavery Blacks gathered secretly, whispering prayers under kettles and muffling their voices to avoid punishment. Slaveholders, even religious ones, feared the prayers of slaves. While outwardly devout plantation owners quoted scripture to hold men captive, they also worried the slaves would pray for freedom and God might just turn his ear to listen.
During the Civil Rights movement the prayer meeting was the place where Blacks gathered to find strength. The lack of justice created by segregation and the pain from lack of political and social progress pushed Blacks to find justice on their knees. The court of heaven was always open and a man, woman or child of any color could come before the throne of grace freely and without discrimination. In the days of Jim Crow and institutionalized racism when Black voices were being stifled on earth, simultaneously they rang clear and true in heaven. The secret place of prayer gave Blacks power and access to a supernatural being stronger than any judge, more just than a national leader and more compassionate than their closest friend. While the marches in Selma and boycotts in Birmingham caught the attention of the public, the prayer meetings captured and arrested the heart of God.
Today in America we are a nation mourning the deaths of the Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney and 8 beautiful souls from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In a racially motivated act, a demonized 21 year old man took the lives of these dear children of God during a time of Bible study and prayer. On Sunday, June 21st, the church bravely opened its doors and held the first service after the terrible massacre. During a passionate sermon the church’s interim pastor, Rev. Norvel Goff, said these words:
"A lot of people expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot. Well, they just don't know us. We are people of faith."