What I learned in Teaneck
“ . . . Not words, but deeds. The daily life tells much more than any number of words. A uniform cheerfulness, tender kindness, Christian benevolence, patience, and love will melt away prejudice, and open the heart to the reception of the truth. Few understand the power of these precious influences.”*
Message joined Pastor Robert Smith, Jr., and the First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Teaneck, New Jersey for “Interfaith Day,” Sabbath (Saturday, April 1). Special guests included the New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, the Executive Assistant Attorney General, Shirley Emehelu (who heads the civil rights division), Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Patrick Callahan, and founder of the Interfaith Action Movement Derrick Green, who was also the speaker for the morning.
Throughout the weekend, I took a few hours to learn from the expertise of our colleague, Derrick Lea, who directs Adventist Community Services (ACS), a humanitarian response arm of the Adventist Church in North America. I personally sought, along with about 25 other energetic, community response types, certification to assist individuals who are in crisis by providing emotional and spiritual support. As Lea indicated, one need only track the growing rate and severity of major crises to see an upward trend and intensification. And, it’s no surprise, given the times in which we live, and the words of prophetic words of Christ, he said.
Christ, also, as if watching today’s streaming headlines, and trending stories highlighting new depths of divisiveness, and the violent push for religious rites to be practiced in ancient spaces, the intolerance for simple differences, and the vilification of opposing views, warned us that for so many, love would grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
That’s where we encountered the quote above, one that seemed to underline the whole weekend. We are challenged, in times of crisis and cruelty, to wield the weapons of truth, kindness and love.
*Evangelism, by Ellen G. White, p. 543