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Viewpoint: ‘A Father’s Wondrous Day’

Dennis Edwards
By Dennis Edwards
Editorial Columnist

After Father’s Day at Chesapeake’s The Mount (Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church), I think I might finally understand how Peter, James and John felt on the Mount of Transfiguration as they witnessed the moment where Jesus connects humanity to God in the company of Moses and the Prophet Elijah. Peter said, “it is good for us to be here.” Inherently good to witness a moment God used to help change our lives and the world forever.

It may be that the most lifted of moments come at our lowest times in life. Maybe it’s the distance from which we come or how rapidly we rise. Either way, it can’t happen minus the presence of the Living God. When it does, heaven merges with earth and we see his eternal power to changes lives even now. When the 8 a.m. service started, no one, not even Bishop Kim Brown, knew what would happen. He was honoring fathers from the pulpit when Jason literally ran out of the audience, fell on the floor in prayer, paced before their old congregation and then sat down on the steps. The 52-year-old couldn’t stay silent, couldn’t believe what a group of men got together and did for him without telling Bishop Brown.

Jason had lost his job at the worst possible time. His wife is seriously ill, there are 5 lovely daughters and he’s been working at a convenience store to make ends meet. But the bills and the money weren’t working out. He had to give his vehicle back to the bank because he couldn’t pay the note. When a group of men at The Mount heard about his struggle, they got together, bought him a used Lexus, paid to have it insured and registered then gave him the keys.

So when he stood before the congregation, knowing his mortgage was behind, Jason thought he’d experienced the best he could expect. Bishop Brown couldn’t ignore his spirit of gratitude, called him to the pulpit and asked about the mortgage. Jason said “Pastor I’m $17,000 behind.” Both thought the house was a lost cause until The Lord spoke and Bishop Brown was moved to ask for 17 men who would give $1000 each to bring the mortgage current. 34 men came forward to add their gifts to $2000 Bishop and Elder Valerie Brown pledged. Countless others pledged $500 each and some (with small sons and daughter in arms) rushed forward to pledged $250.

People started pouring out of the audience leaving donations at Jason’s feet. They came from all over the sanctuary, as security kept an amazed watchful eye. Folks on the Internet made online donations, all were glad to plant a faith seed in his life. Before the day was over at least $52,000 was raised for Jason and his family. Instead of calling moving vans, bankers in the congregation were summoned to help Jason renegotiate his mortgage and give his family a new start. Then a man in the audience who hires people in the industry that laid Jason off pledged to get him a job. A woman who runs a daycare center pledged to provide a place for his daughters to go after school at no charge.

This was a spontaneous ground swell of help and support for a man whose name the Bishop didn’t know until a few days earlier; who’d never asked the church to help him in his time of need. Jason’s daughters sat next to him. Friends talked about how he never stopped ministering to assigned partners in the Circle of Light ministry; how he’d used his spare time on better days to rebuild a porch on the home of an elderly woman free of charge; how he didn’t stop coming to church and never abandoned his family or the Savior who’d promised never to leave him alone.

This moment of generosity, empathy, kindness and unconditional compassion spread through the congregation like a kind of Holy spontaneous combustion. All of us were singed by the spirit of a Savior who honors generosity in the most creative ways. It was good for us to be there! Even better to see how a man weighed down by the stress of debt, unemployment, illness, the loss of his car and the potential loss of his home expressed his gratitude to people who were just as excited to give.

All he could offer was a demonstration of thanks suggested by one of his daughters. She said, “Daddy doesn’t this deserves a tumble,” what many might call a somersault. So that’s what he did and his tumble in front of the altar was more than repayment for a congregation weeping in joy at what The Lord had done for Jason through them. Bishop Brown always says, “Church should change people’s lives.” Well, on this Fathers Day, The Mount did just that while also changing the lives of those who made it possible.
Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award winning Television Investigative Journalist. He is a graduate of Suffolk High School, Virginia Union University and its Samuel Proctor School of Theology.

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