Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Dearly Beloved: May God’s mercy, grace, wisdom, love and understanding be ever upon you. I want to start by sending my deepest and sincerest sympathy and condolences to the family of my dear sweet friend Erica L. It is with a heavy heart that I report that my friend Erica lost her long and hard fought battle with opiate addiction. I had an overwhelming urge to call one of my family members a few days ago. That family member was very close to Erica and battling the same addiction. When she answered the phone, I began talking to her about her addiction. I told her I loved her very much and that she needed to get help. I asked her, “What is it going to take to wake you up? Please get help. I am praying for you.” That night, Erica overdosed and I was so sad and angry. I called that same family member when I heard the news the following morning. “You see?”, I yelled. “What did I tell you?! God put it on my heart to call you. This is a sign that it is time to quit.” She was crying and so was I. I could not bear to stay on the phone, so I hung up on her. I was so hurt. My friend, Erica L., was a person of color from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, my home town. She was part native american and part cape verdean and she was a beloved member of the Wampanoag tribe.
Why, you ask, do I mention her race? Because yesterday, I was watching the news and the governor of the State of Maine, Paul LePage, was again making racial comments. Once again, he was denying accountability for his state’s drug problems and laying the blame on corporate America’s favorite scapegoats – people of color. He spoke as if persons of color are a scourge on white Mainers; as if we are not people too; as if only white people matter. He didn’t mention that it is American drug companies which are producing fentanyl, which is the cause of most overdoses and can now be bought, by the kilo, cheaper than heroin, on the street. He didn’t mention that the majority of heroin is produced in the poppy fields of Afghanistan or that our government protects those fields. He didn’t mention that drugs are affecting all people everywhere and that my dear friend, Erica, mattered every bit as much as any white person or that in the eyes of Jesus ALL SOULS MATTER!!!
Listen, my beloved, we are not going to get anywhere by pointing fingers and hating each other. We need to come together and be united in Christ. Evil is preventing us from uniting. Satan is using lying, corporate politicians to blind us to the truth. People like LePage are using racist rhetoric to divert attention from the real truth. It is the oldest trick in the book – divide and conquer. The Lord our God can remove our blindfolds and unite us. Hate divides, but love unites. God is love and love is God! Amen and amen! Evil uses fear and prejudice to drive us into darkness. We are all victims of the devil’s scams. All of this is in the scriptures. The Lord warned us that the devil would divide us with schisms and he told us how we Christians should conduct ourselves in spite of evil.
I Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
And so, I caution all of you who wish to respond to the governor and people like him in kind, to remember I Peter 3:13-14: And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”.
And that is why I will not respond in anger. That is why I did not respond in anger to the loss of my trial and appeal, even though the same hatred and bigotry spewed by LePage was echoed in the courtroom. In the face of adversity, I have chosen to follow the path of my Lord. Instead of writing something angry right now, I choose to use this experience to enlighten you to the truth and bring you the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I choose love over hate. As a Christian in possession of the Holy Spirit, I see the truth behind the lies and I pity the liars. Though I believe Mr. LePage and people like him hate me and all people of color, I choose to love them. I refuse to hate them in return or to view them any differently than myself. I choose to hope for a better tomorrow and a brighter future. I choose light over darkness. For, I choose Jesus Christ and His gospel.
To the family of my dear sweet friend, Erica L., I love you so much and my prayers, thoughts and tears are with you. And that goes for everyone else as well.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Let us love each other and heal. I love all of you. I want all of you to be with the Lord.
May God bless and keep you! May you forsake evil! May you love in spite of hate!
Love in Christ,
(A man who chooses to love in spite of hate!)