Bishop Harry R.
Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Chairman, High-Impact Leadership Coalition
Shots rang out in a courtroom in Atlanta on March 11,
2005. In just a few minutes, the world would know that a dangerous man
who allegedly murdered several people was on the loose. The entire city
had set up a police net to catch this man at all costs. Surprisingly, he
was not apprehended by the high-priced traps of the investigative
community, but by the power of compassion and love.
To the world's shock, a single mom had talked this man into giving up.
Ashley Smith was not a preacher or church leader. She was not a model
Christian in stereotypical terms. She was just a woman on her personal
journey with Christ. Her response to the would-be rapist or murderer
demonstrates every person's ability to change their world. She chose to
take courageous action instead of succumbing to fear and intimidation.
Confronting her negative situation with faith, she overcame dangerous
facts with her own understanding of truth. Let's analyze how she did
"Whoever Wants to
Be Great Must Become a Servant"
Ashley happened to be reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick
Warren. Interestingly, she read the 33rd Day of Warren's book to her
captor. The two Scriptures for that day's reading gave both Smith and
Nichols a way out of a hopeless situation.
The first Scripture declared that greatness is accessed by servanthood.
It reads as follows, "Whoever wants to be great
must become a servant" (Mark 10:43 MSG). Ashley Smith must
have taken this Scripture to heart. As a servant she spoke to the deep
needs of the desperate man who had abducted her. She served to him the
Word of God like a friend would bring a cold cup of water to a man in
The next Scripture was also important. It said that someone is judged by
what they do (Mark 7:16 CEV). Brian Nichols must have taken this
Scripture to heart as well. The chapter offered hope that this man could
find purpose from an otherwise ruined life. Although both people had
great choices before them, Ashley's wise decision may have saved
She became the voice of reason and, in a strange way, a prophetic voice
from God. Perhaps she spoke with conviction because she had looked at
her own life. In her personal inventory she no doubt found reasons for
anger, reasons to be discouraged, and reasons to give up on herself and
others. Drawing strength from both the Scriptures and the power of
Christ, she acted courageously, deciding not to escape, but to influence
a man that others called a monster.
At the end of the ordeal, she convinced Brian Nichols to go out in a
blaze of glory -- no not gunshots and anger. The glory with which her
assailant left her house was because of the power of Christ. All
Christians need to remember that recognition of the deity of Christ and
repentance is all that it takes to turn a person's life around. At the
heart of the Easter message is the Christian belief that Jesus died on
the cross for the sins of all humanity. The eternal penalty for each
person's sins was paid by the death of Christ. The Scriptures say it
this way, "Him who knew no sin to be sin for
us" (II Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).
"Preach the Gospel
at All Times. Use Words if Necessary."
One of the thieves on the cross repented after he recognized the deity
of Christ. Jesus then offered eternal life to that man sentenced to
death by the world. This Easter let us follow the example of Ashley
Smith. Let's not live our lives in a high and mighty fashion, isolated
and independent. We must become humble, touchable, and real. The
personal struggles that you are facing today will lead to selfless
service that gives you ministry moments that may transform two lives --
yours and theirs.
Martin Luther once said of Christians that we are all just beggars
helping one another find bread. Just as significantly, St. Francis of
Assisi is reputed to have said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use
words if necessary." This Easter, live as though He is risen to save the
whole world -- even the thief who may be just about to cross you. He is
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. is a national evangelical Christian
leader and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church (www.thehopeconnection.org)
just outside Washington, D.C. and the co-author of the book,
High-Impact African-American Churches with George Barna. Bishop
Jackson is also chairman of the new grassroots nonprofit organization,
High-Impact Leadership Coalition,
which is currently educating the nation regarding biblical, moral value
issues in key urban areas across America through its Black Contract
with America on Moral Values. Bishop Harry Jackson is a conservative
and he was a vocal national advocate for the re-election of President
George W. Bush. Bishop Harry Jackson will be coming to New York City on
Wednesday, April 13th to The King's College, a Christian liberal
arts college located in the Empire State Building, for the Summit on
Family and Moral Value Issues in New York and America. A press
conference will take place at 2:30 pm ET on April 13th after the summit.
For more information, contact Mike Paul of MGP & Associates PR at
212-595-8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.