Unbreakable Hope in a Slave

              I went to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center with several people from my church and I have so much to write about. So, I will be sharing my experience in several articles. To start the series, I’d like to start with how the tour started. With the undeniable and unbreakable hope of the enslaved.

           We started the tour outside looking over to Kentucky where there was no freedom for the slaves. You’d think there was no hope for them, either. My goodness, did we learn different! Slaves would cross the Ohio river into freedom. They called the Ohio River the ‘Jordan River’. It presented their freedom, their home,  the Promised Land to them. The still enslaved would sing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to keep their hopes alive. “If you get there before I do, tell all my friends I’m coming too.”

      How glorious! To be enslaved and hold on to such hope. The hope of freedom. This is why they really didn’t want slaves to convert to Christianity. The hope of freedom and identifying themselves with the story of Moses and the Promised Land would give these enslaved people an idea. And boy, were they right! Amen! I can just see it now. A slave master hearing their slaves sing songs of hope of going to the Promised Land was surely an uneasy feeling for them. I can see it now, but I would know nothing of the feelings inside, a physically worn down and beaten man crossing the “River Jordan” into freedom! This was a man who knew there was still many mountains to climb and valleys to crawl. This was a man that was not going to be stopped in the face of defeat. He was filled with the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. A hope found in the stories of the Bible. A hope that was found in singing songs of praises. Yes!              

             Is this hope possible today? I wonder what that hope would look like for me, for you, for our nation, and for our world. I believe it would be freedom from what we are enslaved to today. That level of hope would look like less anxiety for me. I’m a slave to the need to control things that just aren’t in my power to control. For my country, America, it would look like fewer guns, less greed, less shame on poverty, less poverty, less power-driven agendas. There would be better education. There would be no racism, classism, xenophobia, white supremacy, or sexism. This level of hope only brings unity, equality, the desire for everyone to serve one another the way Christ said it should be. As I see it, America is a slave to power, greed, control, and the ladder of success.   Wouldn’t it be great for us, as a nation, to aspire to have the hope of those people we once deemed subhuman. Hope in the world would look quite similar to the hope America so desperately needs to find. The fear created by war, famine, terrorism, climate change and its recent related natural disasters, can all be conquered with this hope.

             I know what you’re thinking. Well, that just sounds like rubbish. We can’t change the world with hope. That’s berserk! I would agree if I was telling you to travel the world and change it. This is not what I am speaking of. I’m speaking of being the beacon of light for anyone and everyone you come in contact with. Be infectious. Be zealous. Be radical. It will taint the hopeless. Just like a wild-fire, it will spread with the capability to kill out someone’s hopeless and doubtful attitude.

              

      In closing, I’ll say this.  There was such hope in the people I learned about today. There was a faith so strong that I bet they believed they could walk on water with Jesus. As a Christian, I aspire to be as hopeful, faithful, and graceful as these beautiful people were. I have placed “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” lyrics here below. I encourage you to learn more about the rich history of the African-American culture. I encourage you to remember these lyrics when you are felling hopeless. Most importantly, I encourage you to love God and neighbor. Amen.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan, what do I see,
Coming for to carry me home.
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan, what do I see,
Coming for to carry me home.
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home

 

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