Reverend Andrew Young: What in the World God is Doing Now? Part I
Civil Rights icon Reverend Andrew Young visited West Angeles COGIC in December of 2017 and shared a visionary word with the congregation. Be inspired by Part I below.
INTRODUCTION BY PRESIDING BISHOP CHARLES EDWARD BLAKE, SR.
Way back in the 1960’s, I was a student at the Interdenominational Theological Center. I had a friend by the name of Albert Brinson who, in 1964, suggested we go visit the home of a great man; a collaborator and assistant of Dr. MLK, one deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. With great joy, I accepted the invitation to go to the home of Reverend Andrew Young.
We sat on the floor, all of us in our stocking feet, and Reverend Young shared with us young seminary students. He inspired us and lifted us, and helped us to define our purpose; to rise above the mundane, and to live for something great. That was one of the most inspirational moments of my life.
Little did I know that over 50 years later I would have the privilege of welcoming him to the church that I serve. Former mayor, former ambassador and congressman; one who stood by the side of Dr. King and was on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel when Dr. King was shot down.
Friends from across the world and across the nation: let’s praise God for Dr. Andrew Young.
Reverend Andrew Young: What in the World God is Doing Now? Part I
I’m here as a seeker, and I’m not behind the pulpit because I don’t have the answers: but I hear the Holy Spirit hangs out around here. I came to return the favor. Bishop Blake came to me as a student some 55 years ago, and as we sat on the floor that day, we talked about what God was doing in Birmingham, in Selma, in St. Augustine. I’m here now because I’m trying to figure out, ‘What God is doing now and what is He calling us to do?”
Coincidence: God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous
When you see things happening that don’t belong together but all of a sudden it makes sense of your life, you need to see that the hand of God is at work in your midst. When the Lord sent me to Atlanta, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be a part of Martin Luther King, Jr. and those rabble-raising preachers, but I was trying to find a way to help without getting beat up along with everyone else. Then lo and behold, I married a girl from Marion, Alabama who said, “We have to go home,” and I ended up in an office right across the hall from Martin Luther King. It was the very thing I was trying to avoid, and there I was, right in the briar patch. I haven’t been able to escape since.
I just read Coretta Scott King’s book, My Life, My Love, My Legacy, and the first story in it was something I didn’t know. She too was from Marion, Alabama, and at 15 years old, she and her sister came home from choir practice one evening to find that their house had been burned down. Their Daddy, a black sharecropper and a brilliant man with no formal education but who was filled with the spirit, said, “Now wait, hold on a minute.” He then made them get down on their knees to first thank God that they were not in the house. He accentuated the positive first. Then he started dealing with the negative: he asked God to forgive the sick people who burned their house down. And then he prayed for his children, Coretta and her brother and sister, that they would have no hatred in their hearts; that they would turn it over to the Lord, and be able to forgive their enemies.
Now that’s miraculous. That is a spiritual phenomenon, and that’s part of the movement in the Spirit of this church.
A similar thing happened to me when I went down to run a voter registration drive in South Georgia. I hadn’t gotten to nonviolence yet, so when we saw the Ku Klux Klan I said, “Now Baby, I want you to sit in the window with the rifle while I go down and reason with them. If I have you with the rifle there, then I can negotiate from a position of strength (when we were courting, we’d go and shoot tin cans in the gulch, and she could hit them better than I could). She said to me, “I can’t do that.”
“Why can you?” I said. “You’re a good shot you’re a better shot than me. What are you going to do?”
She replied, “I don’t know. I can’t point a gun at a human being.”
“But that’s the Klan!” I said.
My wife replied, “You’re supposed to be a preacher. If you ever forget that under that sheet is the heart of a child of God, then you need to quit preaching.”
I said to her, “If they throw one match in here, the whole place will go up in flames! We’ve got our baby in here… we won’t make it!”
“So?” she asked. “Don’t you preach about the cross and the resurrection? If you’re going to preach it and live with me, then you need to live it. If you don’t believe it, then you need to leave it.”
Damn, woman, I said to myself, what kind of woman is this?
I point that out to say that to say: Martin Luther King didn’t learn [forgiveness] at Boston University; he didn’t even learn that at Morehouse. And it was Coretta’s Daddy who had taught her to forgive.
The Power of Forgiveness
Forgiveness. That’s what you all preach here; that’s how you stay saved. You have to pass on the blessings forgiveness to your enemies: and that includes your next door neighbor.
I never had a problem with my neighbor: I can understand them. I never had a problem with my enemies. But my wife and my children can get on my last nerve! It’s hardest to love those who are closest to you, but that’s why you have to pray: to love.
Noone can do that except people who follow Jesus. You have to have the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. And when you sing praises in here, you’re praising God for empowering you with the ability to love your enemies. You have to ask God for the power to forgive.
Come back to Westa.org for PART II of our historic visit with Rev. Andrew Young.
Andrew Jackson Young has worked for the social, political and economic advancement of oppressed people around the world for almost half a century. He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1961 as director of the organization’s Citizenship Schools, joining veteran activist Septima Clark to teach literacy and leadership skills to rural southern black women and men. Young was an aide to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and a thoughtful strategist for some of the most important protests, including the Birmingham campaign and March on Washington in 1963. He served as executive director of SCLC (1964-1968). He helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After the assassination of King, Young was named executive vice president of SCLC (1968-1970). He was the first black Georgian elected to the U.S. Congress since Reconstruction (1972-1976). President Jimmy Carter appointed Young U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter awarded Young the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award. Young returned to Georgia and served as mayor of Atlanta for two terms (1981-1990). In 1994 President Bill Clinton appointed him to oversee the $100 million Southern Africa Development Fund.
Andrew Young is a co-founder of GoodWorks International, a consulting group that promotes initiatives to improve conditions in Africa and the Caribbean. He is also a professor in the Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Young lives in Atlanta with his second wife Carolyn.
MAIN IMAGE by Leroy Henderson – Andrew and Jean Young with daughters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; Poor People’s Campaign, 1968. Courtesy, In Our Own Image.