Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered on April 4, 1968. On April 4, 2018, a handful of pastors, community leaders, and members of the Cedarville University family traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, spending a few days digging deeper into the life of Dr. King and building on cross-cultural, multiethnic relationships we have with each other. We were not alone; 4,000 other people from around the country were with us as part of the Gospel Coalition gathering, MLK50.
Our group included Bobby Hile, Eddie Jaudon, Murray Murdoch, Ernest Brown, Jeff Pinkleton, James Cobb, Sam Bryant, and me. To add to our experience, we packed into just two vehicles and stayed in one house (using air bnb).
Our days were spent at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, which meant we were always close to some of the top barbeque places in the area. At lunch and dinner breaks when we went outside, we were met by the largest police presence I’ve ever seen, including Memphis police, state troopers, two SWAT teams, and Homeland Security. It was at that moment that I remembered Martin. Not Dr. King, Nobel Prize Winner. Not Rev. King, pastor of churches. Not Advocate King, impacting the world with non-violence. Just Martin. A man, simply a man, willing to get up every day and put on his pants one leg at a time. Living in a world struggling to understand what the Bible says about so many things, including unity, and a man who was silenced 50 years ago. Russell Moore reminded us that Martin Luther King, Jr., has not spoken in more than 50 years, yet we are still impacted by his life. When I saw all that protection so I could have the right to gather, to pray, listen to the Bible taught by my friends and 4,000 new friends, I was overwhelmed. I had asked my church family to keep this trip in prayer, and I knew there were people praying around the world for what would happen. I’m so very thankful God heard and responded to those requests!
Many moments left me in tears and hopeful that the Gospel implications will change the tenor of the conversation on race in America. I remembered Martin, just one imperfect, willing hero unable to remain silent.