I read the most beautiful story in the newspaper yesterday.
I’m not much of a newspaper reader. For most of my life, my dad hasn’t been either, but the last few years he’s enjoyed taking in a Daily Times. And he’ll save articles he thinks would interest me, usually those covering Native American issues.
Yesterday, my dad said he’d found a great story for me on racial reconciliation. I usually read the articles he finds and then throw them away. But when I read this one about Police Chief Kevin Murphy and former Freedom Rider John Lewis, I knew it was a keeper.
I’d been captivated by the story of the Freedom Riders a couple years ago when I saw a gripping PBS documentary of their story. In the 1960s, these groups of black and white young people rode on buses throughout the South, peacefully defying Jim Crow laws. Riders of both colors were horribly beaten when they reached the deep South, including Montgomery, Alabama. John Lewis, one of the African-American students and now a Georgia congressman, was one of those beaten. And the Montgomery Police did nothing to stop the vicious mob.
But last year, Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy, a white man born the year after that incident, personally apologized to the black community at a Civil Rights commemorative event at the First Baptist Church where African-Americans had gathered in 1961 after that mob’s attack. Murphy asked forgiveness for how the Montgomery Police force had failed to protect their black citizens at that time. Holding back tears, Rep. Lewis embraced Murphy, and Murphy gave Lewis his police badge as a pledge of reconciliation.
Since then, Lewis has called Murphy his brother. The men have stayed close friends and even traveled internationally together. All because one man said, on the behalf of many others, that he was sorry. And the other man was willing to forgive.
This story (click here and scroll down to see a video of Lewis and Murphy speaking) brought tears to my eyes, as I realized anew that reconciliation is possible. However years it may take, it can and does happen. God is in the business of it:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
There is still much need for reconciliation in our families and country and world, much strife and hurt and division and anger and anguish, racial and otherwise. Situations from global to personal press heavily on my heart sometimes. But let us not lose hope, dear friends. With God, all things are possible. And He is the Sun of Righteousness who rises with healing in His wings.
Does this story encourage you? Are there situations in your life that need God’s touch to bring repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation today? Let’s ask Him together to do that…because He can.