Bell exhorts blacks to reconnect their spiritual ties

January 16, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

The African-American community must move from powerlessness to empowerment to recapture Martin Luther King dream, the Rev. Michael E. Bell told an enthusiastic crowd at Martin's Westminster yesterday.

And the only way to become empowered is to reconnect spiritual ties to God and Jesus, he said during a passionate sermon at the Seventh Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.

"You put the key in the ignition and turn it, but the car has lost power and the battery is dead," said Mr. Bell, pastor of Bazil A.M.E. Church in Cockeysville. "But you get some cables and hook up that dead battery to a good battery and get some power.

"Many of us need to hook up our spiritual cables to him who has the power."

More than 500 people from the Baltimore area, including several elected officials, attended the annual breakfast sponsored by the Former Students of Robert Moton School Inc.

Robert Moton School, named after a prominent African-American educator, was a 12-grade school in Westminster for blacks. The last African-American school in the county, it was transformed after desegregation into the elementary school that still bears its name. The building itself is now part of the Carroll Community College campus.

Amid amens and applause, Mr. Bell used the biblical story of the man who brought his epileptic son to Jesus for healing as an analogy for solving problems in the African-American community.

"Our boys are in trouble," Mr. Bell said, drawing a parallel between the biblical child and modern African-American youth.

"They are most likely to be murdered before they are 30. They are likely to grow up never seeing a positive African-American man as a role model.

"They are confused, thinking that fast money and fancy cars are the way to knowledge."

In the biblical story, the father first approached Jesus' disciples, but they were unable to heal the child. African-Americans as well must go directly to Jesus to solve their problems, Mr. Bell said.

"As the story teaches, the disciples could not heal the child, so the father knew to go to Jesus as the source of the power," he said.

"Going to the health club and lifting 300 pounds a day isn't going to give you that power. A nice bank account, looking good, and a big, fat stock portfolio aren't going to give you the power.

"To get the power, you have to go directly to Jesus."

Faith, like the father's strong belief that Jesus would heal his son, also is necessary, Mr. Bell said.

"That's what made Martin Luther King 'bad,' " he said. "He believed that God had the power to change things. He knew God didn't make African-Americans to live in degrading conditions."

That faith must include taking God at his word, Mr. Bell said.

"If he says you must bless those who curse you and love those who despitefully use you, you must take him at his word," he said.

"If he says all things work together for good for those who believe, take him at his word.

"If God is not moved to help you, it is not because he is not able, it's because you don't believe. Unbelief will kill a miracle every time.

"Only believe and he will heal your husband, heal your child, make your enemies leave you alone, make our streets better, improve our schools and heal AIDS victims."

Finally, he said, prayer and fasting can help empower African-Americans.

"Fasting is denying yourself," he said. "Fasting is denying the flesh. It will give you power in the flesh to go into the streets of Baltimore, Washington and Westminster to bring down wickedness."

Proceeds from the annual event go to the Former Students' scholarship fund, which gives five scholarships each year to a black student from each of the county's five high schools.

George Collins, treasurer for the Former Students of Robert Moton School, said the group has raised more than $30,000 for the scholarship foundation.

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