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Hope Inspires Action: A Reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Lord he served inspired people to hope. Why is hope important? When we lose hope, we become apathetic and give up. Hope motivates people to take positive action for the benefit of humanity. That is why we celebrate holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Easter, and Independence Day. They remind us of what people were able to accomplish in the past during great difficulty so that we, too, will keep fighting the good fight when it seems all hope is lost.

Here is a short excerpt from one of Dr. King’s most inspiring speeches.

I recall a conversation I had with my son, Isaiah, some years back. As a teenager, he was starting to lose hope. He felt there was way too much wrong with the world to expect major positive changes to occur. It was at this point I shared with him all that had been accomplished in the world in just the short time since I had been a child.

Strides Made for Racial Equality provide Hope

When I was young, racial segregation was in force. African-Americans were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as Euro-Americans. They had to go to different schools, ride in a different part of the bus (public transportation), and sit in a different part of the restaurant or just be excluded from the restaurant entirely.

A lot has changed since that time, has it not? Bless God! Much of this was due, in part, to the contributions of Dr. King and many other Christians and Jews fighting for civil rights in this country.

The day after the first African-American students were bussed in from their far-away neighborhoods to attend our school (in an effort to bring desegregation) many parents kept their children home for fear of rioting between black and white children. Yet everything went rather smoothly. Nevertheless we children would soon have to pick a side. Those who, like my older brother and I, chose to embrace African-American children were called “n–ger lovers.”

My brothers and I were not raised with any racial prejudice. On the rare occasion when racial comments were made by others, our mother quickly intervened. She was raised in the home of a tenant farmer during the great depression along with other families of various races. My mom played most happily with the African-American children and was doted on by their families.  Mom also knew what it felt like to be discriminated against (for being poor) during these difficult times. She remembers walking into the bedroom of the little girl whose parents owned the farm and marveling at the fact that she got to sleep in her own bed. Mom slept in the bed with her parents and baby brother. She also  had her own room, closet, toys, and so many pretty clothes. Sadly, the girl’s mother looked down her nose at my mom the whole time.

I digressed…

Anyway… I remember how proud I was when my big brother came home from junior high school not long after desegregation to announce that he had been voted an official soul brother by the African-American students. He was awarded an official certificate drawn upon notebook paper. This honor was bestowed upon him in appreciation of his friendliness and willingness to bridge the gap between the two cultures.

My point for taking this trip down memory lane was to show how much things have changed in just my own short lifetime. Maybe this will provide hope to those who see the circumstances they are facing as “hopeless.”

The proof is in the pudding! At one time it seemed like slavery would never end, but it did. At one time, it seemed like African Americans would forever be discriminated against even after slavery ended. Yet today we have an African American president. What a contrast to those terrible inequities! It was definitely a struggle, but we got there by those, like my brother, who did their their small, seemingly insignificant part.

Dr. King motivated us to take positive action by inspiring us to hope.

Remembering the Price to be Paid

The never-ending social unrest due to the fight for civil rights and other issues during my childhood molded my character by putting the activist stamp forever upon my heart. There were several times in my lifetime when I would be called upon to take a stand on various issues. The results would not always turn out as I had hoped they would but there are times when one must choose to sacrifice their rights and comfort on principle rather than live a life of compromise and soul-crushing inaction.

At the particular time I referred to earlier when my son was wrestling with the inequities of life for the first time, I happened to be on the losing end of one such struggle. Consequently, it fell upon my shoulders to provide him with the hope he would need to keep fighting the good fight, at which point I reminded him of all that had changed for minority races as well as for women.

If people lose hope, they will give up. That is why we need people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; to give us the hope we need to inspire us to positive action. Like King, most of our pastors and itinerant ministers and televangelists serve that role as well.

Jesus was our example. He provided great hope to all around Him by healing the sick, feeding the poor, setting people free, delivering the demon possessed, and speaking against oppression. He didn’t teach us to be fearful or to hide from the corruption in this world just to sit around on our thumbs waiting for the end to come! He called us to tell everyone of the good news, to trust Him as we follow in His footsteps, helping others and advancing His Kingdom on earth… no matter the cost.

As a minister, King carried out the Great Commission that Jesus Christ calls each of us to. That particular expression of Christ’s commission to him at that particular time was to fight against oppression. Just like Jesus, it cost him his life, but there was great fruit from his sacrifice.

Hopefully holidays like today will keep us focused on what those people who dared to hope have managed to accomplish in the past. If Dr. King’s work was not enough of an inspiration for you, remember what started out with only one man grew into a religion comprising of one out of every three people on the planet. Jesus and His small band of twelve followers has forever changed the landscape of the earth and Western history.

Hope against all Odds

There may have been a high cost to many of those Christians who were martyred and persecuted for their beliefs, but it was well worth it:

  • Without Christianity there would be no public schools (the motivation for their establishment was to equip people with the skills to read their Bible to ensure their freedom to worship).
  • If it had not been for the Protestant fight for religious freedom and the knowledge contained within the Bible which freed people from a mindset that tolerated tyranny, it is highly unlikely that we would be living in a democratic society today.
  • Public sentiment for the freedom of the slaves was generated by many abolitionist pastors and through the efforts by missionaries to establish abolitionist churches in the United States.
  • After the Civil War, these missionaries and Christian organizations started over 1,000 negro colleges.
  • What about the hospitals, orphanages, and other humanitarian aid instituted by Christians? Travel the world a bit and you will find that the quality of care for human beings is just not up to the standard that we enjoy in Christian cultures.

When the Christians were being fed to the lions, do you think they knew the benefit that their sacrifices would bring to humanity? Maybe not. But they trusted God and didn’t give up the good fight of faith. So don’t give up! Keep fighting!


© Tracey Nelson

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Jan. 16, 2011 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

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