MLK & The Bread Lady

During the early nineties in East New York, people of my skin color were not seen very often walking down the street. I remember a Cru mission I joined that was helping a local minister advertise a tutoring program at a notorious high school in the neighborhood. We would go door to door in the…

The Little Girl With Generous Eyes

The little girl with generous eyes and small teeth set in a wide smile, drifted from one side of the parade to the other. She offered a small pamphlet to everyone watching the parade, an invitation to a pageant at the African Methodist congregation. Courageous young spirit, I thought to myself. The marching bands, floats…

A Father Again

Clouds hung low, spitting light rain mixed with sleet. The weatherman predicted a brown slushy holiday. He had promised a mom he would visit today. He had met her son that fall, but he was slipping, headed for the streets. Jesus, you are enough to save from the pull of easy money, aren’t you? As…

The Last Turn

When I sat down I noticed that her eyelids were tightly drawn, lips moving, but with no sound. Her fingers caressed a string of beads, and her head was titled upward. I watched, rather rudely, but then relaxed. It dawned on me that I was invisible. This elegant silver haired lady found herself on a…

What Letters do for Lovers

In the summer of 1980, I was in New Jersey working for a mason contractor named Alphonse. One day a post card arrived from, “Ginnette,” who was living in Michigan. I remembered having dinner at her apartment once, but I couldn’t quite picture what she looked like! We began to write, and once we left…

Climb the Stairwell

Back in the 90’s we would take our new staff into East New York, Brooklyn, for their first brush with evangelism. It never failed that the beat cops would stop our group, point to the subway and say, “leave! It’s too dangerous for you here.” We didn’t. We had an affiliate, Willie Branch, who ran…

This Favored Wound

I was weeding with a double-edged machete, and hadn’t noticed I disturbed a hornet’s nest. Forgetting I gripped a weapon, I swatted at my stung hand, and sliced open my forearm, a gaping wound. It has taken a long time to heal. I like to think of wounds as a mark of God’s ownership. Spiritual…

Light to Dark Edges

I accepted Christ in the winter of 1979. That summer I worked for an Italian mason who swore a blue streak, and demanded relentless labor from his crew. The work didn’t bother me, but the environment of foul language and temptation had my new faith on the ropes. So, I called Mary Anne. A couple…

The Fire He Gives Me

On the beach, late afternoon, tide out, sand firm under foot. I’m not here to ogle at the pelicans, but to test my strength by running a mile as fast as my legs can carry me. When I lace up my old track spikes, memories flood my mind, and oddly, thoughts land on a long…

Walter,’Never at the Altar’

My partner for the ‘afternoon of outreach’ was Daniel, a high school student from Brooklyn. It was a first for him, this ‘going out and talking to perfect strangers.’ He was nervous, visibly. Later, he confided that for the past couple of years atheists, who challenged his every belief, had bullied him. The weekend retreat…

Mr Greengrass

During my growing up years, I called him Mr. Greengrass; wrinkles, wispy white hair, deep crow’s claws around penetrating eyes. He was the old man who came by often, and smelled like mothballs. Ironically, Leighton Greengrass lived up to his name, not a single blade of grass out of place in his manicured yard. One…

When God Breaks In…

He was a doctor of internal medicine, and his words were a jaded iceberg, admittedly desensitized by the dying he sees every day. “There are no miracles for someone in stage four cancer… at least I’ve never seen one,” he said. “My mom passed away about eight years ago. She was only 55, and at…