The Historic Vernon A.M.E. Church stands in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Whenever I’m in downtown Tulsa, I walk over and look at that church. There’s just something about it. Maybe it’s the red welcome sign attached to the front. Maybe It’s the thought that someday I’ll be in Tulsa on a Sunday when I can attend because I bet there’s some praising going on in there. The most likely explanation for my attraction is that it still stands in that same spot surrounded by newer things. That old brick and stained glassed building still sits there surrounded by progress. There’s Oneok Field where the Tulsa Drillers play, and Oklahoma State University-Tulsa both practically at the front door of the church. Then there is the highway overpass that barely missed taking the church building down. In 1921 during the Tulsa Race Riots, Vernon A.M.E. and much of the neighborhood buildings, were burned to the ground. The congregation still met in the only thing left of their church building, the basement. The church was rebuilt and what stands there today is an example of an “Overcomer.” It didn’t overcome these things because of a strong concrete basement foundation, but because its members had and still have a strong foundation in Christ.
If each of us look back on our lives, we have all had to overcome things the world throws at us. My life started out backwards, literally. I came into the world as a breech baby and then the world began its work on me, but at the same time, so did God. When I look back at what I’ve had to overcome, it just amazes me what God has done, protecting, molding and preparing me each step of the way. Because of the grace of God, I am like those members of Vernon A.M.E., an Overcomer. My parents divorced not many years after my birth. My grandmother who was my security blanket during that time, passed away and I mourned her for years. Mama then decided to move from Tennessee back to her hometown in South Carolina when I was an eight year old, and I had to adjust to being in a new place and taking care of my little sister while mama had to work. At the age of thirteen I nearly died from something only 2% of the world’s population has. I have been terribly shy and awkward for most of my life and finally figured out in this day and age that I am considered an Introvert. I distrusted people for a long time, maybe the result of the divorce. Like the shyness, I still battle trusting a bit. Then there was high school along with some not so very nice students, and college where I crossed the line or came close to it too many times, but something inside of me made me pull back. My father passed away when he was only 49 years old, and there are still some days I wish I could call him for advice, but then I think he overcame this world and is in a place with Jesus that is overwhelmingly awesome. I had two rough pregnancies, my second one resulting in our son being a surviving twin. Because my life went down the crazy path of the baseball world I’ve had to overcome job uncertainty, loneliness, driving across country with just me and our two children, my introvert-self when being in a new place every few weeks or months, fear of flying, and trying to find my way around a new grocery store in every new town. Yeah, this world can be overwhelming, but you can decide to give in or to overcome.
As the years have passed, I found that people started talking to me about their problems. Some are friends, some are strangers. Some just need a sounding board and some are seeking advice. I share my experiences, my story because that’s what God expects me to do. I have told people the only way I overcome this world, the one and only reason is because of my foundation of faith in Christ. Some of those people hear what I have to say, others have avoided me afterwards because they don’t want the Truth, or maybe they don’t want to hear from a “Jesus Freak.” I only know what is true. God is my Creator who loves me and wants the best for me and from me. The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear and brings me back from crossing the line God knows I shouldn’t cross. Jesus is the Son of God, my Savior, THE ultimate Overcomer who died on a cross and rose again. Hate didn’t stop Him. Progress didn’t stop Him. Death didn’t stop Him. He Overcame and when you have Him in your heart and as your concrete Foundation, you can too.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:57
The Historic Vernon A.M.E. Church-Greenwood District, Tulsa, OK
As I was reading about Vernon A.M.E. Church , I came across this recent news story. The church is having to overcome once again, and I believe they will. There is a GoFund me account set up for them.